Watching the lanterns light up the sky is beautiful, but knowing that each lantern is connected to a person’s dream, wish or message is extremely moving. I was surprised I became misty-eyed after the first launch. I thought about my own message a little, but then I thought of the thousands of other messages. I hoped that everyone there received a little closure for their message or the motivation they needed to fulfill their dream.
I was a little skeptical of the Rise Festival since I had heard the horror stories from the previous years’ parking fiasco. I also thought the tickets, ranging from $60 to $100 plus $20 parking, were a little pricey. My final gripe: the 45 minute drive from our hotel to the event took about 2 hours as thousands of people were being funneled off the same exit. However, once we arrived, the event was flawless, and I understood the price of the ticket. The organizers delayed the first lantern send-off to accommodate the traffic situation, and event-goers were updated by Twitter, as well as by the band.
A folk band, Magic Giant, was playing when we arrived. It was a fun, but mellow vibe, which was perfect for the occasion. I often find the music at outdoor events too loud, but I could carry on a conversation even when we were next to the stage. I liked the band so much I plan on searching for them in Spotify and adding some songs to my playlist.
Before the event started everyone was busy preparing their lanterns to send off their messages. It was touching to see families working together to craft their personalized message. Some people were creating elaborate drawings on their lanterns, while others wrote personal statements not meant to be shared with anyone on earth.
The first wave of lanterns went up around 9PM. It was magical! I wish I would have sat and enjoyed it, but I saw so many people’s lanterns falling so I ran to save as many as possible. Once you light a lantern you must wait 1-2 minutes for the hot air to fill the entire lantern otherwise it only goes a few feet before heading back to the earth. I must have saved half a dozen lanterns, but there were a few I couldn’t help. It was heart-breaking to have to throw away someone’s wish.
Overall RiSE was a beautiful and magical experience. I look forward to going again in 2016!
When visiting the Land Between the Lakes you can’t help but to want to be on the water. When we were there in September the water was as smooth as glass and the weather was perfect for boating. We just missed the peak season, so rates were low and boats were available without reservations. We enjoyed a mid-day cruise around the Kuttawa Harbor Marina with Toko.
We choose an hour scenic drive from Lake Barkley to Kuttawa Harbor Marina so we could see some Kentucky farmlands and different sections of The Land Between the Lakes. Also, Kuttawa Harbor offered low rental rates and dog-friendly pontoons. We paid $156 for a four hour rental including gas.
The section of the lake near Kuttawa Harbor is busier and more industrial than the area near the Lake Barkley Resort. There were several barges hauling goods up and down the Cumberland River. We navigated up river to see the Kentucky Dam and then back down to see the State Penitentiary. I was surprised to see the State Penitentiary was a beautiful building on the water. The boating experience was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the tiny bird island and the tall river banks, but I would recommend another location, such as the Lake Barkley Marina.
The Lake Barkley Marina is located on a channel that branches out to the West. I imagine the barges that navigate the Cumberland River don’t travel into this section of Lake Barkley which dissolves into a few small creeks. The Lake Barkley channel has lots of little islands which make boating interesting, but it does not have the cliff-like embankment of the Cumberland River.
Anywhere you choose to take a boat out at The Land Between the Lakes is sure to be a wonderful experience. Enjoy!
My husband and I spent the first two days of our road trip back to California at The Land Between the Lakes. We stayed at the Barkley Lodge which is part of the Kentucky State Parks system.
I had read a few bad reviews about the lodge at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, so during the drive I told my husband to be prepared for a small, dirty motel room without a view. Since I booked the only pet-friendly room available I hadn’t noticed what type of room we had reserved. We were pleasantly surprised by a nice-sized room with a spectacular view of the lake and a balcony. The room did smell musty, but everything was clean. The beds were very comfortable and the pillows felt new. The sheets smelled fresh and were free of stains or hairs. The bathroom was very clean and I was surprised to find it didn’t appear too dated. I was also surprised to see a new flat screen TV. The carpet, curtains and walls did appear dated. The balcony could also use some TLC, but overall I was very impressed with the room at Lake Barkley Resort.
We were so excited to be right on the lake and to have a balcony where our dog, Toko, could lounge. As soon as we unloaded the car we headed to the lake. Toko loved the walk around the lake. There is a nice sidewalk which runs the length of the lodge adjacent to the lake. Along the sidewalk are plaques that describe the wildlife found in the area. People were fishing from the shore and boaters were just yards away. The sun sets just to the left of the lodge which is perfect from viewing from the room’s balcony or the restaurant.
We had dinner at the restaurant, and I would recommend the restaurant for a convenient, casual meal or to enjoy the view. The prices are extremely reasonable and the portions are filling. I had the veggie wrap with a baked potato. The wrap was delicious; very cheesy and full of juicy vegetables. I couldn’t finish the wrap or the baked potato. My husband had fried catfish with the baked potato and salad bar. He said the catfish had a light flavor and the texture was flaky and buttery. I recommend the salad bar as it includes lots of beans and seeds as salad toppings. Our total was $19.06 without tip, which I think is a bargain. While the service isn’t stellar, the view is amazing. If you go somewhere else for dinner, stop here for a drink on the patio to watch the sunset.
In addition to a restaurant the lodge has indoor and outdoor pools and hot-tubs, a game room, tennis courts and a fitness center.
I highly recommend the lodge at Lake Barkley State Resort Park. You can’t beat the price, and you get a fantastic view and great facilities.
Our first stop on the official beginning of our road trip was for Bar-B-Que in Tennessee. We shared a plate of slow-cooked ribs, which were absolutely delicious.
The ribs had a flavorful dry-rub that seemed to penetrate flavor to the bone. The ribs also had some sauce, but they weren’t soaked in sauce as is the style in Florida. The meat fell off the bone with just the slightest nudge. Even the bone was soft! I really liked that all of the fat seemed to have melted away during the cooking process. The ribs were moist, but not extremely juicy.
I was very impressed with the coleslaw. I wish I had asked how it was made. It wasn’t too sweet and it didn’t leave a pool of white liquid on your plate. I can usually only eat a couple bites of coleslaw, but I gobbled up the entire portion.
The service is great! Everyone was very friendly. The server saw us taking pictures of the entrance and ran outside so we could have a picture of the entire family. A cook came outside and asked if we wanted an extra large bone for our dog.
I would definitely recommend stopping at Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que in Chattanooga even if it is a little out of the way!
Planning a road trip can be super exciting. It is also easy to be overwhelmed with the planning; determining the best route, when to stop for the night, what attractions to see, etc. There are lots of tools to help you plan your trip, but sometimes navigating the helpful tools can be more work than actually planning the trip. Below are two great websites that I absolutely love to use for planning a road trip.
Furkot is great for mapping out your road trip. The website uses Google Maps so you can be confident in the drive time estimates. I love that Furkot can tell you where to stop based on what time you want your day to start and end. My other favorite feature is the ability to export your trip in a variety of formats. I personally like to see it in Excel so I can add hotel costs and other notes to my file.
Furkot has an easy interface that guides you through creating your trip. You start by entering basic info such as start and end dates, times you want to begin and finish driving each day, and average stop-over time. Don’t worry you can edit everything! Furkot then gives you the fastest route with yellow markers for the needed stops. Now the fun part – add your stops! You can click the map or search for an attraction just as you would in Google Maps. You can also adjust how long you want to spend in that location and add notes. The notes are a great way to add reminders or reference websites about hiking trails or other attractions. Whenever you add a stop Furkot automatically adjusts your overnight stops so you end your day by your predetermined time.
Below is an example itinerary for traveling across the country.
Furkot has a feature to find attractions along your route, but I haven’t found that feature useful. I prefer to just look at Google Maps for large green spaces or use RoadTrippers.com to find obscure stops.
Tips for using Furkot:
Add your hotels last – The most useful feature in Furkot is that it automatically determines overnight stop locations. Take the time to predict how long you want to spend at each stop and let Furkot tell you where to spend the night. If you aren’t sure you want to make a stop, but you want to see that stop on the map, use “skip”.
Lock hotels once finalized – Road tips evolve along the way, you learn about exciting places to visit so you add and remove stops to your plan. If you want to keep your overnights static, but you want to edit your stops, simply use the lock button in the “Plan” tab for the overnights you want static.
Duplicate trip – If you like an itinerary but want to continue playing around, duplicate your trip so your first itinerary is saved. I duplicate my trip every week or so while I am in the planning stage. Some people may prefer to just use the ‘skip’ stop feature, but I like to see the alternatives mapped out.
Roadtrippers.com is another great site for planning your road trip. It has a great feature where you can find things within 5/10/30 miles of your route. You can narrow it down by all kinds of categories. I like to find oddball stops within 10 miles – like world’s largest peanut, or truckhenge. The find feature in Roadtrippers is better than the one in Furkot because it has pictures, reviews and better categorization.
I also like the itinerary layout in Roadtrippers because it includes a clear picture of every stop with miles/drive-time clearly labeled between each stop. Below is an example itinerary from Roadtrippers.
I hope you find these sites useful. Enjoy your travels!