Thursday, November 29, 2012


I don't do much ironing anymore, but I keep an iron on hand for those occasional touch-ups. My iron is still stored in its original box. Its age is unknown, but I found an identical one on the internet with a note that it had been purchased in 1956. So I guess the term "vintage" could accurately describe it.

It's been in our family for its entire life, first belonging to my mom and then to me. In fact, I believe it's the iron that I used when learning the art of ironing, an art that I'm afraid I never quite mastered.

I guess that makes me "vintage," too.

Oh well. It has a nicer ring to it than "old."

I love the picture of the very slender lady, with a lovely full apron covering her tasteful dress, ironing a pleated skirt of respectable length...and doing it with a smile on her face.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Smokies vs. Rockies

It's no secret that we love the Smoky Mountains.

Smoky Mountains October, 2007

Some, however, might point to the majestic, snow-covered heights of the Rocky Mountains and question whether the Smokies even deserve the designation of "mountains."

Spray Lakes Road, Alberta, Canada, 1988

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, 1988

The Smokies, however, have claimed Doug's heart to a much greater extent than the Rockies. He agrees that the Rockies are beautiful to look at, but he explains the difference this way:

According to Doug, the Smokies say, "Come play with me."

The Rockies say, "Play with me, and I'll kill you."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Smokies...Little River Trail

On November 9, the final day of this visit to the Smokies, we took a stroll on the Little River Trail. I say "stroll" because we were just meandering, enjoying the beautiful day in our beautiful surroundings, without setting a destination or a mileage goal for ourselves.

Little River Trail is an easy trail that follows an old roadbed alongside one of the many picturesque rivers in the national park. For the first quarter-mile or so, the trail passes some now decaying old homes. The National Park Service ended the leases on these homes in 1992, leaving them to rot where they stood.

A peek through a window into one of the abandoned homes

This lovely stone bridge stands at the site of one of the old homes.

A couple of fisherman doing what fishermen love most

A glimpse of Little River. Notice the tree (or trees) growing around the boulders.

The sun was lighting these leaves perfectly.

The trail curves through the trees, making it look as if we're entering a tunnel. Doug shot this with the camcorder.

The trail, after we had turned around and were beginning our return trip.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Smokies...Laurel Falls and Plemmons Cemetery

On November 8, during our late-fall visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sun was shining; and it was a beautiful day. We decided to hike to Laurel Falls, probably one of the most popular day hikes in the park. The trail is paved and suitable for strollers and wheelchairs; although, like most trails in the park, it is almost all uphill going to the falls.

Along the trail to Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

After our hike, we drove to the area of the park known as Greenbrier...sometimes called Big Greenbrier...located between Gatlinburg and Cosby. We had planned to enjoy an afternoon of reading in front of a fire in the fireplace at the picnic pavilion there. Since the pavilion was in use when we arrived, we went for a walk to the Plemmons Cemetery nearby.

I saw this leaf glowing in the sunlight on the walk to the cemetery.

The shadows seem long for mid-afternoon, don't they?

There are a number of interesting grave markers in the Plemmons cemetery. The old stones are crudely carved, and many are becoming unreadable. Many of those that can still be read contain quaint misspellings or letters printed backward. On some, interesting verses have been carefully etched. One of our favorites is on the stone marking the resting place of Charles Rafield. It says:

Remember man as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so shall you be
Therefore prepare to follow me

There is a story about another grave with that verse on it and two more lines added by an unknown passerby:
To follow you I'm not content
Until I know which way you went

A soldier of America's Revolutionary War is buried here. This photo shows both old and new grave markers, although the old one is no longer legible.

This one marks the grave of a soldier of the Civil War.

A slender plant throws a shadow almost bigger than itself against the trunk of a tree.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving. It's a good time to think about all our blessings, and to give thanks to God, from whom they come.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Smoky Mountain Weather...It's Like a Box of Chocolates

After our hike on the Middle Prong Trail, on November 6, we drove the 11-mile loop road through Cades Cove. It was dreary and sprinkling rain, but we wanted to see some of the damage from the big storm that had passed through there the first week of July. With the rain and low light, I didn't get any pictures of the numerous trees blown down by the storm; but Doug caught a shot of a pretty buck with the camcorder. Actually, there were two of them grazing together, but too far apart to get both of them in the same picture.

Weather in the Smokies is, as Forrest Gump would say, like a box of never know what you're going to get. We awoke to a cold, rainy day in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, on November 7th. So we decided to drive up over Newfound Gap and down to Cherokee, North Carolina, hoping to find a little better weather there. As you will see, though, it had to get worse before it got better.
The drive up the mountain took us from rain to fog to snow.

Snow-covered trees grace a hillside just past Newfound Gap

It was raining again by the time we reached Cherokee. We stopped there for lunch, then drove on over to Bryson City, North Carolina, where there is another section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park called Deep Creek. The rain had stopped, and the sun was trying to break through by the time we got there.

One of the features of that area is a waterfall hike which leads to three nice waterfalls. We went to only two of them on this visit.

Tom Branch Falls

Indian Creek Falls

There was still an abundance of beautiful autumn colors, even at this late date. Following are a couple of examples:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Continuing Day 2 in the Smokies...Hiking Middle Prong Trail

Continuing the account of Day 2 in the Smokies, featured in the last post...

After our drive down the five-mile Tremont road, which ends at the trailhead for Middle Prong Trail, we enjoyed a "picnic" lunch in our vehicle before beginning a short hike up the trail. The day was overcast, but the rain held off until we finished our hike.

The river from the bridge that marks the beginning of the trail

Some of the beautiful fall foliage remaining on the trees

The trail follows the river. These trees on the opposite shore caught my eye.

A look back down the trail, where Doug was busily shooting video.

A small waterfall just off the trail

A multi-level cascade just upstream from the previous waterfall

I loved the way this red tree was virtually the only spot of color in this bit of woods.

Hope you enjoyed this little hike with us. This is a great trail for an easy hike. The incline is gentle, and the scenery is beautiful. If you're ever visiting the Smokies, put this on your list of things to do.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 2 in the Smokies...Bear, Water, Fall Colors

On November 6, our second day in the Smokies, we awoke to a dreary day. But, being the late risers and slow movers that we are, the sun was shining by the time we got around and headed into the national park.

We drove the Little River Road, towards Cades Cove. Just past the Laurel Falls parking area, we spotted a black bear in the woods beside the road. Most of the trees had already dropped their leaves, which made spotting the bear much easier than it would have been a couple of weeks earlier.

This picture was taken off the video that we shot of the bear. There just wasn't time to grab my still camera. This bear was traveling.

This area is known as The Sinks.

This is The Sinks, looking back toward where I stood to take the previous photo.

Just a mile down the road from The Sinks is Meigs Falls, easily viewed from the road.

The five-mile side road that leads back to Middle Prong Trail, in the Tremont area, follows this beautiful river.

On the other side of the road is this woods, still dressed in some of its autumn finery.

This is another view of the river.

This is a closer look at the cascade in the previous photo. Doug took this one with the camcorder. We're so pleased with that little investment. It not only records high-definiton video, it takes still shots in six megapixels.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Smoky Mountain Assortment

After our drive up to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome on November 5th, we were ready for a little walk. We chose one of the Quiet Walkways that can be found throughout the park, offering an opportunity for a pleasant walk.

The signs at these Quiet Walkways usually say something to the effect that no backpacks or hiking boots are required. I think Doug and I must have gotten off the path, though, because I was definitely wishing for my hiking boots. We found our way down to a beautiful river, enhanced by some remaining colorful fall leaves.

River on Quiet Walkway

After our hike, we drove to the Elkmont area of the national park, to visit the site of the Old Wonderland Hotel, where our love affair with the Smokies began in 1990. The old hotel is gone now. Only the steps leading up the hillside from the roadway, the remnant of the old fountain, and the crumbling ruins of the chimney still remain.

This picture was taken from what would have been the dining room of the old hotel. The desk for check-in would have been to the right. A comfortable and inviting lobby was to the left, where guests gathered to visit, play table games, or just read in front of the fireplace. There was a long porch, lined with rockers, between the chimney and those two trees. Those trees framed a beautiful view of the lawn and fountain, with Blanket Mountain in the distance. Ah, the memories. We surely do miss that place.

Across the road from the site of the old hotel, we saw several wild turkeys foraging for food.

Wild Turkeys

Then we visited the Old Elkmont Cemetery.

The Old Elkmont Cemetery

There are a lot of these old cemeteries scattered throughout the national park since this area was once home to a number of families before it was purchased for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The cemeteries are interesting to visit and give mute testimony to the hardship of life for the inhabitants of this land.

Most of the original grave markers in these cemeteries were nothing more than stones with crude carvings of names and dates, many almost totally illegible after so many years. Some of these have been replaced in recent years by more modern tombstones, probably by surviving members of the extended family who still tend the graves.

The majority of the graves in The Old Elkmont Cemetery seem to be of children, many of them bearing dates of death on the same day, or within the same year, as the date of birth.

This one marks the grave of a man who lived to age 71. It has a verse that I particularly liked:

A precious one from us has gone.
A voice we loved is stilled.
A place is vacant in our home, which never can be filled.
God, in His wisdom, has recalled the boon His love had given;
and, though the body slumbers here,
the soul is safe in Heaven.

This one marks the grave of a seven-year-old boy. I couldn't quite make out the entire inscription.

As we returned to our lodging in Pigeon Forge that evening, I took this photo of Gatlinburg snuggled among the mountains.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Drive to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome

We had already made plans to spend a week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, before we received the plea from our missionary friends to come to Missouri. So we drove 600 miles to Missouri, then 750 miles from there to Tennessee. (It was on the way from Missouri to Tennessee that we encountered the bedbugs.)

Anyway, after the driving trip out west in September and the long drive to and from Missouri, plus the trauma of the bedbugs, it was just nice to spend a relaxing week in the Smokies, one of our very favorite vacation spots.

We timed our visit for after the peak of the fall color season in order to avoid the crowds and the higher rates for lodging. But, although we missed the peak of the colors, there was still enough left to satisfy us.

On Monday, November 5, we drove up Newfound Gap Road, hoping to see some of the three feet of snow reportedly dumped in the high country by Hurricane Sandy. Most of it had melted off by then, but there were mounds of it left by the snowplows, giving park visitors plenty of opportunities to play in the snow.

This is the view from Campbell of my favorite views in the Smokies

I almost missed this view, across the road from Campbell Overlook.

The view from Newfound Gap, on the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina

A view from the Clingmans Dome parking area, with snow left over from Hurricane Sandy

This is basically the same view as the previous picture, but zoomed in more.

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