ELIZABETHTON ––– Even as area pools are preparing to shut down for the season, Mother Nature’s water hot spots, like Wilbur Dam and Watauga Lake were active places Saturday afternoon.
From rafting to kayaks to picnics and pleasure walks, people were out and about enjoying their time off during the Labor Day weekend.
Jonathan and Tammy Cross of Kingsport were loading up a green kayak to the top of their vehicle, having just spent a few hours in the water exploring and maneuvering the water craft for the first time.
“We’ve been thinking about buying our own and figured we’d be better off giving it a shot and just renting first and then seeing how we liked it,” Jonathan said. “The water’s nice and still, so it was easy for beginners.”
The couple said they are always eager to try new things and thoroughly enjoy spending their time off in the great outdoors.
“Outdoors is basically what we do,” Jonathan said. “We like to be in the water, we like to be near the water. We’ve really gotten into riding our bikes lately, then hiking. We just like to try what we can.”
Tammy said they were definitely enjoying their four-day holiday weekend.
“It’s gorgeous out here today,” she said. “We had a big, long bike ride yesterday. I’m cooking hamburgers on Monday.”
Jonathan said he and Tammy, as well as their two sons, ages 12 and 16, and other family would be getting together on Sunday and he had hopes to pack in everything he could into his few days off from work.
“We’re going to try to keep it full, take advantage of it,” he said. “If you can take advantage of it, do it. Get out there in it and make some memories and turn the TVs and video systems off.”
The Birchfield family, made up of Gina, her husband Tony, and their two children Daniel and Ashley, were also seizing the chance to be beside the water at a picnic with friends from South Carolina.
“We’re grilling out and having a great time ... with wonderful people,” Gina said. “We really like being close to the water and it’s a nice cool spot right here.”
Joined by their friends, Randall and Martha Jordan from Conway, S.C., the group said they were happy to just be relaxing by the water with good company.
“Labor Day means to me just being off and just relaxing. I feel like you work ... all year and all summer, and summertime is so busy anyway with activities and sports ... and Bible school,” Gina said. “It’s just really important to have that day off just to take it easy and relax and really, after Labor Day, things kind of start cooling down and it’s really like the last good picnic time of the year.”
Gina said she’s not sure what her family has planned for the rest of their holiday, but that work is definitely out of sight and out of mind for awhile.
“We have church tomorrow and Monday, I’m not really sure what we’re going to be getting into. It’s my day off and I’m ready for it,” she said.