Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How travel made me fall in love with Knoxville

I’ve been fortunate to have seen a fair share of foreign countries in my day. One of the greatest things I’ve learned from traveling is how to live simply. Without a car, the best way to eat or drink sometimes is by foot. It may be a stretch, but I think it’s the closest I’ll ever feel to being a hunter, famished and exhausted after a day of walking around, scoping out different cafes and markets, trying to find something to eat that suited me and whoever I was with. It was tiresome, but the greatest. I’ve actually squandered all of my money in Europe somewhat recently and am confined to stay in Knoxville for quite some time until my next adventure.

When I look at my life, though, I realize how much Knoxville has become like those faraway places I can only revisit in my mind. I realize I’ve made my life here as simple as possible. I live, work, and socialize in close proximity to one another, getting to places by foot or bike. I live downtown, work downtown, and play downtown. I found myself having a “European” morning the other day. I woke up fairly early and walked 30 minutes to Old City Java. I saw downtown from a completely different perspective.

The other day, an old man and his wife saw me leave work and get on my bike. He mumbled something to me, like, "Enjoy that while you can." You can be sure I am, old man. I'm positive when I'm older and acquire more responsibility, I'll look back to right now and be incredibly jealous.

Of course “big city life” can get hum-drum and small, and so a little exploration drive every now and then has become necessary. This is one of my favorite things to do because it makes me realize something vital: The more I see of Knoxville and its surroundings, the more enamored I become with it.

Monday was my good friend's 24th birthday, and so we decided to have a picnic out at 7 Islands, which I had never been to. We got there by going down Chapman Highway to John Sevier, and then through some beautiful farmland. It took us about 30-45 minutes to get there from downtown. We parked our car, loaded our arms with blankets, wine, and food, and walked down the road that winds through beautiful countryside along the French Broad River, passing old barns and houses along the way. I can’t believe I only recently heard about this place, through the MetroPulse, actually. It is amazing.

I have a bad habit of never taking my camera anywhere, so you'll just have to go there to see it, I suppose. You can get there by taking I-40 East and getting off at the Midway Exit (I think). There should be "7 Island" signs that lead you all the way there.

Be careful, though, you may just fall in love with this place.

1 comment:

Robert said...

That is a very interesting thought, B, and I would have to agree with you that downtown Knoxville does give that sense of being in a foreign country - not some metropolis like Paris or Tokyo, but something on the village scale. A place where there are not endless bars and restaurants to choose from, but those that you affectionately frequent because they (and the people in them) are a part of your community.

Gooooooo (downtown) Knoxville!