I have shared everything from great food and great restaurants, to great music and great coffee mugs. Today I wish to share with you a great experience and, possibly, a great opportunity for you and your family.
First, let me share how this came to fruition. About two weeks ago, Ellie came home and reported that she was given a line in an upcoming school production. Her line was, "Bays Mountain is a 3500 acre nature preserve and the largest city-owned park in the state of Tennessee." Paige and I have memorized it too. I reflected on the fact that my daughter was now experiencing what many thousands of us who were raised in Kingsport experienced-- the yearly journeys to Bays Mountain Park on the school field trips. I always loved those days. But like many of you, after 12 years of traveling to Bays Mountain, I began to think I had experienced all there was to experience there.
I have never been so wrong.
The same week Ellie walked in with her big one-liner, I had lunch with several former high school classmates including Rob Cole, who now serves as the Operations Coordinator for the park. During our conversation, which ranged from the good old days to University of Tennessee recruiting (it was National Signing Day and we were watching coverage in the restaurant), we began to talk about Bays Mountain. I learned that a family could join the Bays Mountain Park Association for $35 per year and that included the following perks:
- Unlimited complimentary entrance to the park for your vehicle
- Invitations to attend special events
- A one-year subscription to The Interpreter, our member's quarterly newsletter
- Ability to check-out videos from our large collection of National Geographic, nature, space and related programs
- Families may receive as many as 6 tickets to any public program (including planetarium and barge rides) each time they visit the park
- Unlimited access to the hiking trails (my addition, in case it wasn't obvious)
When I began to think about the cost to adventure ratio, I figured it was the cheapest entertainment I could think of for my family over the course of one whole year. On top of that, Paige and I are in the midst of a wellness resurgence of sorts and the many hiking trails would be a nice change of pace.
Today we decided to hike up to the ubiquitous radio antennas which have stood their post like a sentry over Kingsport for longer than I can remember. How many times I have seen those and wondered what the view must be like from there and never once ventured up to see it-- until today.
Our plan is to continue to take excursions up there, as schedules permit, until we have hiked every trail they have. Considering this and the many picnics and planetarium shows we will enjoy when warmer weather arrives, I think we have struck gold as a family.
If you live in East Tennessee or Southwest Virginia, I HIGHLY recommend that you rediscover Bays Mountain. If you have never been there, what are you waiting for?