In search of ... The Biggest Waterfall
Friday, December 13, 2013
Hey, y'all.....here's my recent AdVentures column from Nashville Lifestyles magazine:
I've always been drawn to those things that claim
superiority: Biggest. Fastest.
After hearing/reading for the third time that Tennessee
boasts the Highest Waterfall East of the Rockies, I felt compelled to
I know what you're thinking. I thought it, too: Niagara Falls. If Tennessee did indeed have a waterfall
bigger than Niagara then we surely would know about it – right? There would be
postcards. And legends.
Fall Creek Falls, about two hours east of Nashville, sits
atop the Cumberland Plateau, in Tennessee's largest state park. My hike began
with what could be described as either …
… all depending on how comfortable you are when defying
gravity. A long, homemade suspension pedestrian-bridge spans the river. It
looks like it was made by a road crew in rural Latin America, cleverly constructed
of rope and two-by-fours and rusty, wire, barnyard fencing. Let's just say that
crossing it is a lesson in blind faith. The bridge moves more than you want it
to, especially as you near the end and another person steps onto the opposite
side, creating an effect not unlike
an undulating rug as it's being shaken on cleaning day.
The trail is steep at times, and rocky, and downright ugly –
worn, dusty paths strewn with litter and graffiti on the trail-guide signs,
more post-hurricane Nicaragua than Tennessee. The flora is sparse and beaten
up, as if a tornado or flood had swept through. Critters, both furry and
feathered, seemed to have moved on to greener locales. If The Highest Waterfall
East of the Rockies were not waiting at the summit I probably would have turned
As I neared the falls I kept stopping to see if I could hear
them – but I could not. I was perplexed: How could The Highest Waterfall East
of the Rockies not be heard from a mere quarter-mile away?
Eighty feet away. Still no roar of water.
"Ahhhhhhh, mystery solved," I said when I finally
saw the falls. Indeed, at 256 feet it is the Highest Waterfall East of the
Rockies (Niagara Falls is 176 feet), but it certainly isn't the largest. Niagara marks the spot where
one of the world's largest inland lakes pours into another of the world's
largest inland lakes. Hence, the roar.
Fall Creek Falls, however, is made from one little river,
almost a creek, which means the volume of water is so small that the falls is
not a wall of water at all but rather a tentative-looking, misty column that
resembles a long bridal veil.
"Cumberland Falls is bigger that that," said one
unimpressed man standing near me. "Burgess Falls, too."
Group by group, people approached the promontory, looked at
the falls and uttered a flat "huh." One woman surveyed the scene for
a few seconds then turned to her companion and said, "Did y'all know that
Connie Marie's havin' a baby?"
Having succumbed to gravity, an obese bulldog (The World's Fattest Bulldog, perhaps?)
was lying at her feet.
"How on earth did that dog make it up that steep hike?"
"Oh, We drove up," she answered, motioning to the
parking lot beyond the trees.
So, if you do venture this way to see The Highest Waterfall
East of the Rockies, I suggest you drive instead of hike. Unless you want to
collect some empty aluminum cans for extra cash.
If you drink beer and no one sees you ... are you truly drunk?
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Here's my recent AdVentures column for Nashville Lifestyles magazine: Canoeing on the Harpeth River:
The sign behind the counter at Tip-A-Canoe confuses us. It
says something like, $187.50 alcohol
penalty. We assume it's a joke, like the T-shirt message on the guy
standing next to me: Paddle Faster! I
I look at my companion, confused. "No beer on a canoe
ride?" I ask. "Surely they're not serious. … $187.50? What's that
I'd canoed and kayaked in Minnesota, Belize, California, Amsterdam,
Colorado, Florida – most of the time with a small cooler of beer in hand. A
canoe ride without beer makes no sense. It is an incomplete equation. A canoe
ride without beer is like a canoe ride without water or paddles.
Still, I'm a consummate rule-follower, and I fight the urge
to return my cooler to the truck.
"No one's gonna say anything," my friend assures
"Like don't-ask-don't-tell in the military,
We board the van that transports all the canoes and people
to their drop-off spot. With us is a group of giggling-girl teenage
missionaries and their adult female leader who have traveled from Memphis for
the day. The leader eyes my cooler (hungrily?). Does she know? I wonder, nervously. Will she tell on me? As I mentally prepare to break a rule or law,
I remind myself that even Jesus drank wine.
Most of the area's canoe-rental companies, located just
minutes west of Nashville, are clustered on a bend in the Harpeth River. At
Tip-A-Canoe, you can choose from a variety of rides, ranging from one hour to
eight hours, which includes an overnight rustic camping trip. We've chosen the
2-hour, 7-mile trip, which will take us from the Kingston Springs ballpark,
back to the Tip-A-Canoe headquarters where we parked.
The Harpeth is a Class-1 river, the lowest ranking on the
scare-scale. The smooth current and occasional, minimal rapids are reminiscent
of a lazy-river ride in an amusement park. Occasionally, we must steer. At
times we scrape bottom and must scoot forward to dislodge the craft from the
gravel. Our mandatory life preservers seem to be overkill.
The spectacular views from the water, including
plant-adorned cliffs that reach upward for nearly 100 feet, almost make me
forget about the contents of our cooler. Almost. I am thirsty.
We paddle up to a sandbar and pull the canoe ashore. I'm
nervous, still unsure. Is the quirky $187.50 penalty actual state law or the
whim of some pious manager?
I soon realize we have no cups, so we cloak our beers in
bandanas and look left, look right, and hope for the best.
The scary things I find ...
Friday, September 6, 2013
Seen on a visit to my favorite Nashville antique mart:
Rubber hand puppets of .... hmmm. Is that Desmond Tutu on the right? And I think that might be my high-school history teacher on the left.
Their hands are out, as if .... hmmmm....are they ready to fight? Are they describing the size of the fish they caught in Old Hickory Lake? Or have they just exclaimed, "Oh, my GOD! You did NOT just say that?"...and they throw their hands in the air.
I challenge someone to name the puppet show these two would star in. Winner gets two free Ad Hudler novels of her/his choice, signed and sent to a friend.
Gratuitous hash tags/phrases to boost website traffic:
Men who act like sissies
Does this gray suit make me look fat?
What color of tie should I wear to an interview?
Friday, August 30, 2013
As a novelist I'm always trying to figure out the blueprint of someone's personality, always trying to figure out what makes a particular person tick. I do the same with places, as y'all saw in my novel Southern Living, where the town of Selby became a character in its own right.
Nashville, however, is hard to pin down. Consider:
Two blocks from the national headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention is Hustler Hollywood, a high-end, grocery-store-size emporium with trained "sexologists" who can answer just about any question you have about male or female reproductive anatomy. (I know; I've learned a few very important things from them.)
We are home to Al Jazeera's news bureau for the Southern U.S. ... yet we've got plenty of xenophobic rednecks spitting tobacco juice out the windows of their trucks.
We are home to Taylor Swift ... and Jack White.
Our airport has signs written in both English and Japanese -- and we've got a Japanese consulate here.
See what I mean?
Reason #8846R4 to Love My Wife: Inventive use of a chicken carcass
Thursday, August 8, 2013
She plays with her food ...
"Look!" she said. "A pterodactyl!"
Postcard from Hell ...
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
"We're done!" I say, as the endodontist snaps off his rubber glove. "The root canal is done!"
"No, I'm afraid not," he says. "It was such a bad infection I couldn't finish the job."
I soon discover that he packed the nerve tunnels with an antibiotic/antiseptic fluid -- sort of like injecting it with Clorox, he explains -- and put in a temporary filling.....which will be drilled out next Thursday.
And I am thinking this: Bite me.
Snapshot from My Bank ...
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
... the woman in front of me is going on and on to the teller about wheat grass shakes ...
"They give me soooo much energy. I mean look at me! Those things are incredible! Have you had one? ... They just give me so much energy!"
And as they conducted their transaction over five minutes' time she reached for, opened and ate ... literally crunched and swallowed ... THREE lollipops the teller keeps for children in a basket at her station.
Hmmmm....methinks it's not the wheat grass. I am wondering what assorted collection of wrappers we would find on the floor of this woman's car.