The monsoon season we’ve been experiencing lately here at Hammock HQ couldn’t keep me inside last weekend. I decided to dive in and embrace middle Tennessee’s lakes and waterways by actually becoming ONE with them. Who knew you could have so much fun when there’s water, water everywhere … even without a boat or a paddle.

On Saturday I joined a group of volunteers for a big cleanup day at Percy Priest Lake as part of the Nashville Clean Water Project. One of the supporters of the well-organized event was the Cumberland River Compact, an educational nonprofit that promotes the water quality of the Cumberland River watershed. We dodged the thunderstorms and managed to pick up a ton of the usual trash—glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans, Styrofoam containers—and a few unusual (and disgusting) items—a tent, camp chairs, wheels, camouflage underwear (I KNOW). Recycling champion and green blogger Barbara Mathieson posted a video of the event here.

On Sunday, I competed in my first triathlon, the Lost Loon, benefitting the Harpeth River Watershed Association, another great nonprofit devoted to preserving and restoring one of our area’s beautiful waterways. It feels cool to say I’m a triathlete, but that moniker is a little bit misleading. It was the lowest stress team triathlon you can imagine: 9-mile bike ride, 2-mile canoe race, 4-mile trail run, and I just participated in the bike and run portions of the race. Because of the deluge of rain we’ve been having, Lone Hunter State Park’s Couchville Lake rose to meet us: In portions of the trail, we ended up wading in water up to our shins. But once you’re that wet, it just gets more fun. One of the best parts about the race was crossing the finish line: Race organizer extraordinaire Willy Stern required all finishers to squeeze a loon stuffed animal that was hidden in a tree. Join Willy and friends–and me!–for the seventh annual event next year!

P.S. What am I like when I DO have a boat and a paddle? Not too smooth, lemme tell you. Late last fall, friends and I paddled down Swan Creek, a winding and gorgeous creek not too far from Nashvillle. Things started off grand … until my canoe partner and I got caught in a strainer and sank our lil boat. Luckily we were rescued by the kind experts at the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association (TSRA). I’m hopeful that by enrolling in one of TSRA’s future paddling classes, I can keep future waterlogging to a minimum.