Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Smokey Mountains

We are into our third week at Look Rock Campground on the Foothills Parkway in the GSMNP (Smokies), so thought I’d post an update with several of many photos we have taken over the last couple of weeks. The weather is great now, but we were told it was very hot all summer before our arrival. After almost a week of clouds and rain, it was good to glimpse the sun for a few hours this morning. The folks around here so need the moisture, we can’t really complain too loudly about the weather.
We are still waiting for the fall colors to peak, which should be in two to three more weeks depending on the elevation. A few of the trees in this campground have started to turn red and gold, and it is only around 2400 ft.
We like this location as it isn’t as busy as the other areas in the park. We are on the west side farther away from the action in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but less than 20 miles from Maryville, TN. As with all the campgrounds, there’s no water or electricity at the sites. We are lucky to be near the main water supply, and I’m lucky Donnie doesn’t seem to mind carrying in fresh water and taking away the not so fresh stuff! With the use of the generator a few hours in the morning and evening, we have all the comforts of home!
Okay enough writing, on to the photos...

You can’t have pics of the Smokies without bears! Rylee and Parker, these photos are for y'all (P.S. Grandma and PaPa sure miss you two and your Dad and Mom). The top photo was taken one day while driving Cades Cove Loop. This bear climbed up a tree right over our Tracker. The second photo was taken a few mornings ago on Clingmans Dome Road. This little mama bear and two of her three cubs were digging up the grass on the roadside. We assume they were finding grubs and other insects.

Last week we were out exploring a gravel road that we thought would end up on Cades Cove Loop. Turns out we were on the wrong road, which was just as well when we learned the road we were looking for is one way leaving the loop. We did run into a friendly local couple out hiking with their dog, who told us about this old early 1800s farm place just up the road. It was such an appealing spot surrounded by big chestnut trees that were beginning to turn yellow. Sometimes there are advantages to “getting lost”!

Views from the Foothills Parkway less than a mile from our campground.

Just a few of the trees and shrubs on Clingmans Dome Road in the park.

One Friday we drove from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge. We started getting concerned when we saw all the chairs lined up along the main drag. Folks getting ready to watch a parade? Nope, just several thousand classic car owners set up in front of their cars, most of which were for sale. We both felt like kids in a candy store. These photos don’t really represent the scope of the number of cars, some parked in rows two and three deep for over 20 blocks. We were told that at night the cars cruise up and down the street for several miles.

More Pigeon Forge sights...the Titanic Museum and the Wonderworks building where you can take in magic shows.

We toured the GSMNP Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum which was pretty neat.
All of the early 1900 buildings (except this barn), were moved from their original locations throughout the Smokies to the current site to create an open-air museum.
The buildings on the museum grounds included a log cabin, barn, corn crib, cane mill, blacksmith shop, spring house and hog pen (complete with hogs).

The Davis house from the Indian Creek area in North Carolina. This house built from 1899 to 1901, was constructed of chestnut logs and chinked with hand-split boards instead of clay.

I’m ending this blog with a photo of another old museum relic. Oops, wrong photo...sorry Honey! Don’t you wonder why Donnie puts up with me?!

Bye for now!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Look Rock Campground in the Smokies

Our site at Look Rock Campground on the west side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We got here Monday and plan to stay three or four weeks until the trees start to turn. It is a nice campground although no electricity or running water.
So far we have really enjoyed the cool temps and a couple of days of rain. It didn't take me long to break out the sweater, while Donnie is still wearing his shorts!

The site across from us with a tiny peek of the Smoky Mountains.

A couple of days ago we set out on a day trip to locate historical Cumberland Presbyterian Churches (Becky's family goes back four generations as CPs in Denton, TX). The only old church we found that day was the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Louden, which was built in 1882. We know there are more in the area so we plan to continue the search another day.

Cumberland Mountains State Park Crossville, TN

Here we are in one of our favorite sites at Cumberland Mountain State Park near Crossville, TN. We stayed here four nights before heading farther east to the Smokies. There are alot of things to see and do in the park and surrounding area. This park is a great place to bring kids in the summer as there is a swimming pool, tennis courts, ball field, pond with canoe and paddle boat rentals and several playgrounds. We enjoyed just kicking back and watching all the different birds at our feeders.

Construction on this bridge and dam in the park began in 1935 and was completed in 1938.

A view of the park restaurant which overlooks the pond and bridge. They serve lunch and dinner buffets seven days a week. We ate there several times and the food was always really good, especially the ribs and BBQ pulled pork.

The pond which is home to several dozen Canadian Geese.

Friday, September 9, 2011

We're in Tennessee

We are now in Tennessee at Cumberland Mountain State Park in eastern TN near Crossville. Will include photos of the area here next time I post, but thought I'd bring you all up to date on what we have been doing the last month.
We spent a while in Lubbock TX, then two weeks in Chama NM. We were waiting out the heat in TN, as well as the rain storms predicted for the area. Turns out Tropical Storm Lee moved farther northeast and dumped most of the rain on New England.
Below are a few photos we took while "camping" in Chama.

This is the old sign for the Chama RV park. I thought it was kind of neat with the mountains in the background.

We enjoyed the warm days (75-80 degrees) and cool nights (45-55 degrees). A welcome change from the heat in Texas.

One day while driving back from Alamosa, CO we saw black smoke and pulled over at an overlook just in time to catch this photo. We didn't get to ride the train this trip but plan to do it next time we are in Chama.

Echo Amphitheater south of Chama.

Heron Lake near Chama.

Another day trip to Pagosa Springs, CO. You can tell how much Donnie enjoyed the "aroma" of the springs.

While on the way to Alamosa, we saw these towers in the distance and had to check them out. Turned out to be a private residence in Antonito, CO called Cano's Castle. The towers were covered with cut up and flattened aluminum cans. Needless to say Cano is one eccentric artist.

Abiquiu NM is a really interesting place to visit. We drove into the town plaza where we saw the above church, as well as the home of Georgia O'Keefe. The rock formations are awe inspiring, but we still prefer the mountains and pines.