Friday, June 17, 2022

Canoe The Caney, Silver Point, TN, Canoe and Kayak Tips

If you are near the Caney Fork River located in East Tennessee, then you may be familiar with the bright yellow canoes and kayaks floating down the river. These vessels are property of Canoe the Caney, an outfitter located in Silver Point, TN. They offer several trips with varying lengths, they also provide kayaks, canoes, tandems, even floating cooler carriers.

We recently went camping in East Tennessee and we decided to spend one of our days enjoying the Caney Fork River. Continue reading to hear our experience with Canoe the Caney as well as some helpful tips based on our personal experience. 

We showed up at the outfitters the morning of our trip. Everyone that we interacted with was helpful and the check-in process was quick and easy. After everyone on our trip had arrived, we sat through a short safety briefing and made our way onto an old black school bus. After a short ride to the drop point, we were on the river. Once on the river, there isn't much left to say regarding the outfitter. There's lots of floating, paddling, and making stops to hangout, picnic, skip rocks, fish, and make rock sculptures. At the end of your trip, Canoe the Caney will be there to provide transportation back to your vehicle. After nine hours on the river, the old black school bus resembled a golden chariot sent down from the heavens. 
The Caney Fork River is a nice river that can speed up or slow down depending on the dam. We had heard that when the generators are on at Center Hill Dam the shorter trips seem to be over too quickly. For that reason, we opted for the longer, nine-mile trip. The only problem is that you won't know the generators are on until the morning of your arrival. With no generating, the Caney becomes still water and requires a lot of paddling. On the morning of our trip, the dam generated from around 9:30 -11:00. This means that we had some current to help push us along for the first couple of miles, but no help for the remaining seven miles.

Below are some lessons learned from our experience with Canoe the Caney and the Caney Fork River. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments and share your experience.

Canoe and Kayak Tips - Things we wish we had known!

Plan a Shorter Trip - Unless you canoe or kayak all the time, then you really do not appreciate how long nine miles in a kayak can be. 

Manage Your Time - Since you are choosing the shorter trip, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the journey down the river. You can extend the trip by making extra stops or speed the trip up by staying in the canoe and making progress downstream.

Choose the Right Transportation - For our family of three, with one 9-year-old at the time, we should have gotten one canoe and one single kayak. The canoe allows you to carry items more efficiently, this is important when you're the one doing the paddling.

Do not get a cooler carrier - Putting things inside the canoe will be much easier than dragging a heavy tube behind a kayak.

Bring a Medium Size Cooler - We packed a full sized lunchable and a couple of granola bars for each of us. For the 9-hour trip we should have packed a few more snacks.  

Bring a couple of Bungee Cords - If you chose to disregard my advice, and you rented the kayak over the canoe, then be warned that the tandem or kayak is extremely limited on space. Please do not make the mistake of renting the cooler carrier. If you do decide to get a tandem or kayak, you need to bring a couple of small bungee cords to help hold things in the small storage compartment.

Always Wear Your Life Jacket - Things can get dangerous quickly and with little or no warning. On our trip, my son and I got hung on a down tree and got dumped out of the kayak. Thankfully, he had a life jacket on. I did not have a life jacket on, but I will not make that mistake again.
Wear Water Shoes - Any of the stops along the river will be covered with rocks. Some are smooth from tumbling in the river, but most are very sharp. You will be thankful to have a pair of water shoes with a hard sole. On our trip I was lucky enough to find a real arrowhead!

Safety First - In addition to wearing your life jacket, kids under twelve with little or no kayaking experience should not kayak alone. If a child were to get dumped out of the kayak, they could panic and not know what to do. We made this mistake as well, thank God that he was with me when we did get dumped.

Bring Toilet Paper - I am only going to say that there are no rest stops or portable potties along the river. In addition to "TP", you may consider bringing a small pack of wipes to wash your hand. 

Don't Forget your Fishing Poles or Magnets - We like to fish and magnet fish from time to time. This would be a wonderful opportunity for both. We decided not to take the extra gear since we did not know beforehand how much room we would have in the kayaks. Get at least one canoe for a family trip and you should have plenty of room for a few extras.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bella Nashville Wood-fired Pizza, Nashville, TN Farmers Market

When visiting the farmers market in Nashville, TN, it would be hard to miss the massive and multi-cultural food court. There are plenty of options to choose from: vegan Mexican, Caribbean, Greek, and fresh filled crepes cooked to order. In the mood for coffee, wine, or beer? You are in luck because you can find them all in one convenient location. The food court, located inside the Nashville farmer's market.

On our visit, we chose to eat at Bella Nashville, Wood-fired Pizza. Considering the variety of foods available, pizza may come across as boring. However, Bellas is more than just pizza, its authentic Italian cuisine. On this visit to the farmers market, we arrived near closing time. Because business was beginning to slow, we had a chance to speak to the owner of Bellas, Franco Ballarini. Franco is incredibly nice; he is originally from Italy and has been serving fresh pizza for over 20 years. After talking to Franco, I came to understand that the only secret to making a great pizza is to use quality ingredients. Though I forget his exact words, Franco says, "It's harder to make a bad pizza, than a good pizza".

If you can't already tell, we thoroughly enjoyed Bellas. The pizza was made fresh and cooked right in front of us. It had just the right amount of sauce, extra cheese, and the crust was perfect. When paired with an ice-cold Coke, this made for a perfect lunch. I cannot wait to have another free weekend to roam around the Nashville farmer's market and to try more authentic foods. If I were to guess, I would say that my wife and I will try Music City Crepes. Hopefully, my son will save me at least a bite of his pizza from Bellas.