Posts filed under ‘Tennesee’

Happy 75th Birthday, Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

On June 15, 1934, Congress established the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In honor of the park’s 75th Birthday, I’m sharing some photos by Flickr user Jim Dollar. I think his photographs do an astounding job at showing why Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our nation’s most visited national park. Enjoy!

Sunset at Clingman’s Dome (Photo by Jim Dollar)

Cade’s Cove Methodist Church (Photo by Jim Dollar)

Greenbrier (Photo by Jim Dollar)

Rainbow Falls (Photo by Jim Dollar)

Spider Web (Photo by Jim Dollar)

More of Jim Dollar’s lovely photos of Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be found on his Flickr site or

For more details on the park’s anniversary and related festivities, visit

June 15, 2009 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Appalachian Trail Stomp

Last year at the Hiker Talent Show at Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, I discovered that Appalachian Trail thru-hikers are a musical bunch.

Trail Days - Talent Show - Lake[something] Playing Guitar Trail Days - Talent Show - Bagpiper (Close) Trail Days - Talent Show - Cornbread 1 Trail Days - Talent Show - The Andrew Johnson Mountain Trio 5
Trail Days - Talent Show - The Colonel Sings Trail Days - Talent Show - Amazing Grace (to House of the Rising Sun) Trail Days - Talent Show - Female Performer About to Sing Trail Days - Talent Show - Singer

Taste of Musical Hikers from the Trail Days 2008 Hiker Talent Show

That very summer, Bo Cox thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. He has some great videos of his journey, including this one which uncovers hikers making music on the trail. Keeping up with thru-hiker innovation, they use what was on-hand as their instruments– their gear, their hands and even the trail itself.

Smoky Mountain River Stompin’

Speaking of Bo Cox, he also has a great video condensing his northbound thru-hike into 20 minutes. (Hat Tip, The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog)

May 11, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

links for 2009-03-11

March 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm 3 comments

links for 2009-02-24

February 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Dogs: Plus 2 States and the Etymology of “Beagle”

It turns out the dogs doubled the number of states they were in this past weekend.  Our route to Asheville took us through Tennesee.  Here are two photos documenting their passage:

Jimmie in Tennesee
Jimmie in Tennesee
Jimmie in North Carolina
Jimmie in North Carolina

As you can see, the different states had a profound effect on Jimmie’s demeanor.

When I checked into the hotel, they had me sign a pet disclaimer.  The very first thing on the list read, “There is a $50 charge if you leave your pet unattended in the room and your pet causes a disturbance to other guests.”

Obscenities raced through my mind.  In horror, I recalled that I have a beagle.  Beagles are synonymous with disturbance!  Skeptical of my claim?  Look no further than the etymology sections of these common dictionaries:

[Origin: 1490–1500; perh. < MF beegueule one who whines insistently, equiv. to bee, 3d pers. sing. of beer to be open, gape (by-form of bayer (see bay2) + gueule mouth (of an animal); see gullet]

-Random House Unabridged Dictionary

[Middle English begle, possibly from Old French bee gueule, loudmouth : beer, to gape (variant of baer; see bay2) + gueule, gullet (from Latin gula).]

– The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

c.1475, possibly from O.Fr. becguelenoisy person,” lit. “gaping throat,” from bayer “open wide” (see bay (2)) + gueule “mouth.”

– Online Etymology Dictionary

Luckily, I happen to have a rare wuss strain of the breed.  Henry is so fearful of new environments that he is literally scared straight.  He doesn’t have accidents in new environments (especially lucky for Kevin Ledman) and it takes him a day or so to feel comfortable enough to resume barking at every suspicious sound.

So…it turned out to be okay.  Timid little Henry watched reruns of Man vs. Wild and The Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel and apparently refrained from any disturbance-making.  Sean and I skated through without any complaints or extra charges. 

This weekend, it seems, Henry did not live up to his breed’s name.

P.S. A couple of years ago, I was so amused by the etymology of “beagle”, I made myself Beagle Etymology T-shirts and stickers thanks to

May 28, 2007 at 9:16 pm 3 comments

Previous Post Updates

Today I have two updates to previous posts:

Sentimental Text Messages
Dang, I had good timing with this post.  Last night my phone died.  The display would only display white.  I could still place calls and hear the other party, but I could not receive calls or do anything that required the display– which includes my beloved text messaging.  Luckily, I was eligible for my two year phone upgrade so I went ahead and got an LG enV.  Although Verizon was able to transfer my contacts, my saved messages and my pictures were lost.  No big loss– my favorites were already documented on my blog.  🙂

Thank Goodness I’m With the Puparazzi
After nearly four months, Kipp uploaded his pictures from our Smoky Mountain National Park trip.  And looky here, guess what shirt I’m wearing!

Vicky in Great Smoky Mountain National Park (with old cell phone!)

But, of course–  The Rocky Mountain National Park shirt, I wear everywhere else!  I remember thinking I was ever so clever packing a Rocky Mountain National Park shirt to wear in an entirely different National Park.   Anyway, all of Kipp’s Smokies pictures are available on his Flickr site.

P.S.  I just realized that I’m wearing that same shirt right now!  I think it is pretty safe at this point to declare it as one of my favorites.

February 13, 2007 at 12:00 am 1 comment

Great Smokey Mountains: Quick Recap

This weekend, I traveled to Great Smokey Mountain National Park with Soleless Red and Spit McCoy (aka Kipp and Mike).  We have just started to scratch the surface with all the pictures from this trip, but here is a quick recap (not proofread):

A Tale of Two Blue Cranes
On Friday, we got stuck in hideous traffic in Pigeon Forge.  We were driving in two cars which quickly got seperated in all the traffic and confusion.  At one point, we were coordinating on cells phones trying to figure out who was where. 

“What do you see?” Mike asked. 

Kipp described a neon blue crane that was spinning around.

“Oh you’re behind us,” Mike said, “We passed that a while ago.”

It was a reasonable conclusion– I think most cities would be able to sustain just one glowing blue crane business.  But not in Pigeon Forge– it apparently needed TWO such neon structures.  It turns out Kipp was ahead of us…at the blue crane we had yet to see.

I was also amused that Pigeon Forge had a Jamboree, a Jubilee and a Hoe Down all within the same city block.

Rainbow Falls
On Saturday, we woke up at 5:30 AM and headed out to hit the trails!  It was still dark when we were filling out the registration at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  We parked Kipp’s car up at Newfound Gap and then drove back down to the Rainbow Falls Trailhead.  We loaded up all our backpacking gear and I got to do my very first hike with a full pack (special thanks for Carolyn who lent me her pack!). 

Sometimes carrying two retractable leashes and the water for myself and two dogs feels heavy– but it certainly did not compare to my pack on Saturday!  I had some difficulty putting the pack on by myself and often after a break, I needed my companions to assist loading me back up.  I read once about an experiment where scientists put a crab inside a clear jar in an octopus’s tank and they would time how long it took the octopus to figure out how to unscrew the lid of the jar to get to the crab.  I believe part of the experiment was they let the subject octopus watch another octopus figure out how to get the crab.  The subject octopus then immediately knew what it needed to do when it was presented with the same problem.  The octopus’s ability to learn through example was not lost through evolution.  During one of our breaks, I noticed Mike unloaded his pack on a tall rock.  When it was time to suit back up for action, he merely sat down on the rock, snapped on all the buckles and stood back up.  I started using that technique and suddenly I was empowered to get my pack on without assistance.

Kipp help me find my way around the pack as well.  At first, I found myself with quick a bit of sensation in my shoulders.  Kipp did some targeted strap yanking– he loosened my shoulder straps and tightened the waist.  That simple gesture shifted more of the weight to my hips which I found vastly more comfortable.

The first mile was not the steepest, but it was the most difficult for me and during that difficult period– I did have my hiking doubts that I would make the trek (Refer to “People Get Held Back by the Voices Inside Them“).  However, after that first mile, I think I adjusted to the extra weight or perhaps just built up a little bit of confidence.  From there on, it was smooth sailing.

Well, smooth sailing for me.  Poor Mike had thought he had just gotten over a cold, but discovered that the illness had returned in full force.   By the time we reached Rainbow Falls, it was apparent the cold was having an effect.  We were able to travel an estimated 1.5 miles further, before Mike had to Summon the Strength to Wuss Out.  The decision was difficult, but in the end, our group definitely made the right call.  After carrying heavy packs 4 miles and up a 2000 foot ascent, we turned back and returned to the car.

It was still a wonderful outing with great fall views and an amazing collection of mushrooms!

Soleless Red and Black Bears
Turning back had some fringe benefits.  On our way down, the sole of Kipp’s right shoe came off.  We tried securing it back on with rope– but alas, that sole wanted nothing to do with Kipp.  As a result, he descended the rest of the trail with significantly more awareness of the rocks on the trail.

Then when we were driving back to Gatlinburg, we came across a mini traffic jam on Cherokee Orchard Road.  Ultimately it was rubberneckers– but it was rubberneckers I can forgive— they were looking at a female black bear and her cub in a tree!  Our crew pulled over and I was able to see my very first live black bear (I saw a dead one with Meredith near Wind Rocks)!  I was extremely surprised at how high the two bears were and even more surprised at how at ease they were at that height.  The mother balanced on a branch to go to sleep, not at all concerned about the likes of gravity.  Soon it was brought to our attention that there were three more black bears on the ground.  I took a look and, man, there was a HUGE one out there.  I was under the impression that black bears looked like big dogs.  This one was no dog.  He was huge.  I’d prefer to not run into him when hiking alone.

Mike’s Picture of Bear on Flickr

Finally, we took our time returning to Kipp’s car and enjoyed a lot of the overlook pulloffs.  Marion’s Overlook was especially beautiful.  Looking at the valley below, the scenery didn’t even seem real.  “It feels like a painting,” Kipp said.

Appalachian Trail!
In preparation for the trip, I printed out a copy of the Smokey’s Trip Planner.  I marked a few waterfalls and in the margin of the “Favorite Destinations” page underneath “Clingman’s Dome”, I scrawled the notation “Pic by Sign”.  I was referring to the Appalachian Trail– which weaves 70 miles through the park and skirts the North Carolina-Tennesee Border.  After all the AT mileage Mike and I have done in Virginia, I wanted a picture of us at the AT in a different state.   Welp, we were able to fulfill that desire when we dropped Kipp off at Newfound Gap!

Clingman’s Dome
After dropping Kipp off, Mike and I headed off to Clingman’s Dome.  It is the highest point in Tennesee AND it is the highest point in the Appalachian Trail.  Mike and I were extremely lucky– we got to enjoy great views and we got to see first hand how quickly the Smokey’s namesake rolls in.  It was amazing to look up and see how quickly the fog moved. 


In my post last week I talked the importance of timing in pictures.  That message will be 100% reinforced by our Smokey pictures.  At one point, I was about to take a picture of a splendid view, but found myself out of batteries.  No problem– I had two in my pocket.  BUT– by the time I switched out the batteries and pulled the camera up again, fog already completely obscured the view.  Once we get all our pictures coordinated, Mike and I should have some good ones demonstrating the huge difference just a couple of seconds make way up on top of Ole Smokey.

On our way up, I overheard our youngest generation marvel at the fog.  A very young boy coming down the path, told his parents, “We was in the clouds!” 

Chimney Tops
This morning, Mike and I took a short but steep hike up to Chimney Tops.  It was an awesome hike with a great rock formation you can climb up for a view.  Mike made it to the top of the rocks very easily.  I struggled though–  It took me three tries to find a viable route to get up to the top.  How did I finally find the way?  Just like the octopus and the crab and my backpack loading lesson– I learned by copying.  I copied the route of a family of three!  The view at the top was awesome.  On one side we could see a clear sky and fall colors and on the other side we could see fog.  Our final hike in the Smokey’s was a great summary of the trip– fall colors and fog.

Impressions of Gatlinburg
Don’t get me wrong, I do think Gatlinburg is picturesque.  But my overall impression is damaged significantly by the parking and traffic situation.  Quite simply– it’s horrible.  It is difficult to admire the quaintness of a mountain city, when you’re constantly on the lookout for a barrage of pedestrains and lit brakelights… or when you are trying to plan your route three steps ahead to make sure you can make the turn you need to make or actually find a parking spot.

Mike and I counted at least 8 seperate businesses that focused on Old Time Photos– five of which concentrated within a couple of blocks.  Often there were two such businesses right across the street from each other (very much like Lewis Black’s “Starbucks across the street from a Starbuck’s” bit), or just a couple of doors from each other!  I was surprised by Pigeon Forge’s two blue cranes, but seriously can there really be that much demand for fake western photos?!?!

How about getting rid of one or two of those establishments and putting in…actual parking.  Call me crazy, but people who are coming to the mountains to “rough it” can probably make due with just six Old Time Photo venues.

October 8, 2006 at 11:45 pm 2 comments

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