When I hear “Tennessee,” I think of two things; the lame pickup line and COUNTRY. I’m talking country music, hillbillies, funny pronunciations and moonshine.
It wasn’t a complete let down. There were definitely big trucks, BBQ and four wheelers, but I also experienced southern hospitality, amazing people and beautiful water. Tennessee is freaking awesome. Plus, I didn’t have to listen to a country song for the two weeks that I was there. What a great way to start out my world tour.
I flew into Kingsport, was picked up at the airport and immediately shuttled to the lake. We drove along some crazy roads through the mountains and arrived at this amazing marina on a gorgeous lake. On top of that, I was told that we would be staying in a floating cabin at the marina. So sick.
Our first day out on the water was spent riding and checking out South Holston Lake, hanging out with the guys from CBK Watersports (these guys are awesome and if you are in eastern Tennessee, they may be the best boat dealership to work with) and me doing what I apparently do best... giving haircuts (thank you Tyler for making me feel like I’m at home).
If you have the opportunity to check out SoHo, you should definitely take it. The lake is incredibly deep, has islands everywhere and weaves its way through the mountains. Everywhere that we went was glass, which allowed for some epic riding.
The next two days at SoHo were spent running clinics for some of the local riders. These guys were charging it and weren’t afraid to push themselves. The Smucker brothers were coming into the wake like the Vandall and were doing everything as big as they could. This inspired me to step up and charge the wake a little harder than normal. We also had guys like Austin and Tyler demonstrating the up and coming talent in the area. It was great seeing these guys rip and their passion for riding.
After spending a few days at SoHo, I was off to a little town west of Nashville to coach some of my customers on Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River. This was going to be an interesting week due to my previous experience with the Thompson family. It is typically prank after prank with these guys. I’m talking about having fun with tampons, photos in baggage that would make most men feel uncomfortable, Levitra, etc.
To my surprise, things were reasonably tame. It was nice not having to watch my back the entire time and instead focus on the wakeboarding and just having fun in general. It was pretty much non-stop play time up there. We had access to boats, a Jet Ski, four wheelers and even a plane.
More than anything, this family was truly focused on having a great time with everything they do. Of course they were excited to learn new things, but more than anything they just wanted to have fun. I got caught up in this and stopped focusing on my riding and instead played on my board. It was great.
My girlfriend flew in for a few days and we ended up riding doubles. Not the normal doubles, but more of a showski doubles where it was both of us on my board. Then we decided that she should climb up and ride on my shoulders. I’m not sure how it happened, but we managed to pull that off too.
Later on in the week, I was out riding and a barge had just come down the river and completely ruined the water. It was worthless to ride where we were, but instead of tossing the handle, I had them pin the throttle and do their best to get ahead of the barge. We ended up cruising near the shoreline (best water available) at about 45mph when I saw a waist high tree stump floating in the water. At that moment, I decided that it was time to play. I cut out and ollied the tree, which then motivated me to jump the wake at that speed. As soon as we made it past the barge, I had them start to slow down, but still managed to do a Raley going 32 mph in front of some random boat and then watched the entire family absolutely freak out. Now I don’t recommend anyone doing any of those things, but it was a nice change of pace for me. I didn’t have to go out and do my hardest tricks. It felt good to play.
Since this entire week was about having a great time, on the last day Eddie wanted to show me what he loves to do. After riding all morning, he and I hopped in a car and made our way to the airport. We climbed into his plane and the next thing that I knew we were 3000 feet in the air above Nashville. To top this off, Eddie told me that he was turning autopilot off and that I needed to take control of the plane. This was my first time in a private plane and I actually got to fly it for a little while. Unbelievable.
What an amazing couple of weeks.