Eric Jackson Rediscovers Knoxville, Part 2

Waking up in Knoxville means it’s breakfast time, and while we were told about a number of  places, the single place that everyone mentioned was Pete’s. Walking in, it was easy to see that we were not being steered wrong. Three guys working the grill, Pete, the dad, and his two sons. Anytime you have the owner working the grill, you are likely to be in good hands. Kristine, KC and I sat at the counter and watched them work. On both sides of us were locals that offered their ideas on what we should eat. Kristine and I just followed their lead and went with Pete’s breakfast bowl — homefries, eggs, ham, sausage, four eggs over easy, biscuit and gravy. The biscuit was awesome and set to the side, allowing you to take small bites and take your time to not have it get soggy with the gravy during a casual meal. Kristine added bacon to hers just to get all of the meat groups. OK, sorry, I am just a breakfast guy, and this one was worth mentioning.

Pete and EJ

The rest of the day was checking out town, and most importantly, the breweries.
  

Zack, the owner of Knox Brew Tours, showed me around on the new Spin electric scooters. We pushed the envelope with them and went “out of range” about five times. Luckily, that only means that you have to push, like a normal scooter, and it still works.

North Knox, South Knox, Downtown. I only knew Downtown from years past. Each area has and is having a renaissance, with the old becoming new, everything getting a facelift, new energy and new opportunities for locals and visitors alike. The waterfront, where Calhoun’s on the River is located, now has amazing fountains, sidewalks, biking and hiking trails with kayak rentals, SUP rentals and storage. The Tennessee River flows through town on its way to Chattanooga. I have stopped here many times over the years to do a “flatwater workout” in my kayak on the way to races. The bridge pilings make for a great course to do slalom around. A full moon kayak paddle is scheduled here two days out of every month, and it just happened to be today. With May weather in Tennessee perfect for outside activities, it is a great time to check out this paddle with Billy Lush or Riversports.

Zach and I took the scooters to Elkmont Exchange Brewery for lunch and got the Brewery tour started. As you know, I am a fan of good beer and my favorite is Fat Tire Amber Ale by New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado. That is my measuring stick for all other beer. I drink everything from pilsners to stouts, from PBR, to homebrews, but a great amber ale is my “go to” when available. I got a chance to enjoy a lot of local brews I have never had before with the best guide available, Zach.

We started off at a German Brewery, Schulz Brau, and, in good form, we got the full story. I think one of the girls cried during Zach’s story of love and beer. Prost!

    

Kristine and KC met me back at the hotel, having their own fun during the day. I brought her chocolates from Knoxville Chocolate Company and a coffee mug that says, “Happy Cup,” She was very happy, so I felt I succeeded in my goal for our reunion.

Dinner, ice cream and getting KC to bed on time would round out the day of exploring town. KC would happily make the trip back to hit up Cruze Farm’s downtown shop for ice cream. I was a little worried when the line looked like a Disney World line at 9 p.m. It went fast, however, and we just decided what to get when we got to the front — milkshakes! Then we took a short walk back to the hotel for an early night to be ready for more outdoor fun on Sunday.

KC was looking forward to Navitat Knoxville’s Tree-Based Adventure Park at Ijams Nature Center more than anything this weekend. He did a ropes course in Austria with us a few years ago and remembers it well. While closer to home, this one did not disappoint. Our scheduled time was at 1 p.m. and we arrived in plenty of time to hike around the nature center and check things out. Self-made adventures in downed trees and playing tag made the time go smoothly for a 10 year old boy ready to rock in the trees.

      

Our Ground School crew, lead by Eric, got us up and running with the system of hooking up, switching to a new challenge and keeping safe. KC wanted to go, go, go! We did all of the courses they had to offer, each one more difficult than the last. The final hurrah was a 40′ jump of faith that the device would catch you, of which it did, of course. KC could be heard through the woods, hooting, hollering and screaming in joy. The staff was quite amused. I think KC may be the world’s most excited kid and happiest kid. That makes my life quite more enjoyable than if it was the opposite! We were sweaty, tired and happy. Kristine hiked the trails below us, watching in awe as her son went from one challenge to the next with skill and no fear. I was happy to be able to do this with him as an equal. He didn’t need my help. We just enjoyed each other’s company and took turns going first.

 

It was a good way to finish our weekend discovering the city … in the woods.

We’ll be back to Knoxville. We’ll do some more kayaking next time, and perhaps some more fishing as well. I would like to bring Dane, Emily, Nick, my grandkids, etc … I think they’ll love it.

 

🙂

EJ

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