Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn in Tennessee and North Carolina

These two photos were taken as we were leaving Look Rock Campground on Sunday morning.
Old Friends...

Here we are with the campground host, Fred Griffin, whom we met while camping here in September of 2009. Fred and his wife Millie have hosted at Look Rock for ten years now and have always made us feel right at home.

Jim Whaley (on left) and Mike Berry (on right) who are firefighters with the Alcoa, TN department. We met Jim and his wife Karen, Mike and his wife Audrey, and Mike’s parents, Dottie and Ken during our 2009 trip.

And New...
Hello to Jane and Hank Caruso, who were so kind to invite us into their home and make us feel so welcome. They have a beautiful house with a great view of the mountains on Flats Road just below the campground. We had a wonderful dinner with them and Hank shared his secret for the tasty pork roast. Thanks Hank! Donnie and I enjoyed meeting the Caruso’s neighbors, Ellen and Lesley, who joined us for the meal. I wish I had photos to post from the visit, but I forgot my camera. Maybe next trip...

Of all our travels since we have retired, the people of Eastern Tennessee are the most warm, friendly and welcoming folks that we have ever encountered. We should know, as a portion of our 2009 trip was spent in New York and near the Washington D.C. area, where none of our fellow campers would say hello, let alone talk to us! So... Hurrah for Southern Hospitality!!

On Wears Valley Road this old truck with the trees growing out of the bed really caught our eyes. Obviously it has rested in this spot for quite a few years. The owner was nice enough to let us take a few photos, even though we interrupted him while he was watching the Tennessee Volunteers football game.

One of our favorite drives was Miller Cove Road between Walland and Pigeon Forge, TN.

More scenery from surrounding country roads.

The kudzu vine was introduced to the South from Japan in the late 19th century as food for stock and to stem erosion on worn-out farmlands. Though we find it beautiful to look at, everyone around here sees it as more than a nuisance, as it grows at an alarming speed. In the South, Kudzu has been spreading at a rate of 150,000 acres annually.

On the way home from the Cherohala we stopped at this Bryson City, NC Drive-In for a late lunch. It is called Na-Bers and has been in business since 1954. We chowed down on the best fried chicken and good old southern veggies.

Burning Bush shrubs in Bryson City. Almost every Tennessee and North Carolina yard has these beautiful plants, which have no blooms just brightly colored leaves.

Another day trip to the Cherohala Scenic Skyway in TN/NC

Aunt Becky’s house in the Cable Mill area of Cades Cove.

This was our third and final tour of Cades Cove in the Smokies.

Hey Rylee and Parker, these photos of Grandma and PaPa's visit to the Gatlinburg Aquarium are for you guys. We think it is one of the best aquariums that we have ever seen. One of the neatest areas was the giant shark lagoon filled with 750,000 gallons of water. A moving glidepath (sidewalk) took us around three sides of the lagoon and through an underwater tunnel. We saw really large sharks, sawfish, stingrays and thousands of other fish.
Below are photos of the lagoon.

I love this ray's "face". Looks like he is smiling for the camera!

Blue Tang and Clown Fish.

A Sea Urchin....Oh wait, that’s just PaPa!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Camping in the Smokies...

Hello everyone! We are into our fifth week now at Look Rock Campground in the GSMNP. The following are a few photos we have taken during day trips out and about in the beautiful Tennessee and North Carolina mountains.

I can’t seem to blog without photos of bears. We came across a bear and her cub as we were driving along Flats Road just below our campground. Both bears ignored us as they climbed a tall oak tree and starting munching on acorns.

Here’s mama bear scooting up the tree. Donnie said she reminded him of lineman climbing a pole, and he should know!

She doesn't look very happy with us at this moment, but the bad mood only lasted a minute then it was back to lunch.

The cub climbed to the top of the tree, balancing on limbs so small we wondered how they supported his weight.

Last week Donnie and I walked to the top of Clingmans Dome which is the highest spot in the Smokies at 6643 feet. After a fairly steep half mile we reached the observation platform on the mountain top, with great views of the park. We also stood on the Appalachian Trail but I was too pooped to walk it very far.

We drove through this covered bridge which is all that remains of Harrisburg, TN (in Sevier County). It was built in 1875, and restored in 1972.

Just a few examples of the fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove twenty miles or so on the southern end of the parkway near Cherokee, NC to Waterrock Knob Visitors Center. Beginning near Waynesboro, Virginia and ending near Cherokee, NC, the parkway covers over 460 miles of beautiful scenery.

While driving through the park yesterday on our way home we noticed a sign for the Little Greenbriar School. We turned off onto a narrow one lane (but two-way!) gravel road which ended in a little cove. We found the school house which was built in 1882. Classes were taught there until the school closed in 1935.

Fontana Lake in North Carolina, on the southwestern boundary of the GSMNP, covers 10,230 acres. The Fontana Dam, at 480 feet, is the highest in the eastern U.S. It was constructed in the early 1940s to supply the growing need for electricity in the area.

A more recent view of a maple tree near our Look Rock site. We plan to leave next week and travel west to do a little more camping and exploring.