Thursday, September 23, 2010

A visit with Friends (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Saturday began with breakfast in our volunteer activity center with all the members of our team. Now this shouldn't surprise anyone, breakfast was prepared for all of us by the Delightful Miss Sue! She prepared a wonderful breakfast casserole called Peaches and Cream augmented with fresh cooked waffles! Our multi talented Sue provided the whole crew a delightful morning.

Next on the agenda was the arrival of our friends Gaye and Evelyn. They were coming from Summerville, SC to spend the weekend with us. Four adults in our 400 square foot home would be tight so they stayed at the Pisgah Inn. Upon their arrival we chatted, ate lunch and hit the road.

Initially we were simply going to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway but then found ourselves headed for the Elk. And the Elk out did themselves again! Viewing the Elk is a sedate activity but ripe with excitement! Previously we recognized that people viewing the Elk were often picnicking. On this trip we came to understand that folks come to the valley and set up for the entire evening. They settle in for the evening because everything the Elk does seems special. Maybe it's special because just having the opportunity to watch these animals in their new natural environment seems like a privilege! We see great bucks, young fellows with a new rack, momma and babies as well as the big dude with his harem. They all are awe inspiring!!!
This one crossed right in front of our car!

Eventually we left the valley and wound our way home. Debbie made margaritas for the ladies then we moved to the activity center to play cards - Hand and Foot. The game is mostly brainless (just our style) and great fun. We played until after midnight. You know, regular party animals! Sunday we met Gaye and Evelyn at the Pisgah Inn for breakfast then returned to the Cradle.

Breakfast at Pisgah Inn
Debbie and I toured the Discovery Center with Gaye and Evelyn then they traveled home. Debbie and I enjoyed our visit with Gaye and Evelyn ENORMOUSLY! We were quite flattered that they went to such great effort and expense to spend a short weekend with us. But equally important, the four of us enjoyed a rambunctious good time. We laughed and carried on like ill behaved juveniles. It was wonderful! THANK YOU GAYE and EVELYN!

Good Night


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

GNATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Pisgah Forest, NC)

This will be brief. Today Debbie and I did a hike.  4.4 miles on the Cat Gap Trail.  I barely recall that the trail itself was great.  But unfortunately we had company....lots of company.  I mean like a GBILLION GNATS.  We hosed down repeatedly with OFF but the GNATS still enjoyed a feeding frenzy. I would say that, to our surprise, we still concluded it was a good outing.  Maybe like how good it feels when you stop hitting yourself on the head with a hammer, but none the less, good.

We worked Thursday and Friday. It's a very slow time at the Cradle and we have to find things to do to pass the time.  We've been assured though that in a few weeks the crowds will return as the leaves begin to change. 

Till next time.


Monday, September 13, 2010

ELK!!!!! (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Looking back, I covered M,T,W of last week.  Last Thursday we hiked with a group of our co-workers.  We started our day at the Pisgah Inn for breakfast.  Nice breakfast, pleasant company, fantastic views!

Duane, Artie and Dave

From Left: Dr. Charles (our team leader), Barbara (volunteer
coordinator at the Cradle) and Dick
Then we hiked.  There were 7 of us.  Ages included 57, 58, 68, 68, 68, 75, 78.  Quite the spread.  Everyone did extremely well and we kept a good honest pace.  One saving grace was that most of the trail was down hill. We hiked from the Pisgah Inn, literally, down to the Cradle.  About 8 miles in  about 5 hours.
We only took one break on our 5 hour hike 
Friday Debbie and I went to the NC Mountain State Fair.  We had a great time.  We watched chain saw carving for about an hour.  We saw 2 dog shows.  The first was  rescue dogs catching Frisbees and jumping up to 25 feet in distance into a pool,  The second dog show was working Border Collies herding sheep.  Very impressive!  We did a few other odds and ends and capped the evening with watching the Human Cannonball.  I thought it would be hokey but actually it was pretty cool.  We ate gyros, fries, funnel cake and ice cream.  Nice!

Saturday and Sunday we worked.  Previously I have probably whined a bit about the hours and/or boredom.  But now we find the experience to be quite satisfying.  Our team members are great, the work experience pleasant and the area and related activities are wonderful.

Monday we took a road trip with the dogs.  We headed for the Smokey Mountains National Park via the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The destination was the Cataloochee Valley which is in an area north of Maggie Valley.  The purpose was to see ELK!  Twice during the past 10 years Elk have been introduced to the Valley.  The valley is quite isolated and apparently the Elk like the location.  The result is that they roam openly, all within close viewing of the single road in.  The Elk seem to be clustered, maybe a herd, as if they're a family.


I did feel a need to corral Bo so that he wouldn't stampede the Elk.  He could!!!  It was well worth the 1 1/2 hour drive which included some single lane gravel roads.

Till next time.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More Hiking (Pisgah Forest, NC)

We worked Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday we drove to Hendersonville, NC about 25 miles away.  Our purpose was to attend the Apple Festival.  It was nice.  Not wildly nice, but nice.
I did have a great apple fritter and, imagine, we bought apples.  The big hit was the Mast General Store.  For those not familiar with a Mast General, it's like an old timey general store, only huge.  On the second floor they have an outfitters section.  And because of the Apple Festival, they were having a massive sale that included lots of 50 % off. Debbie and I had just recently spoken of a need for her to have high top hiking boots rather than oxfords.  Mast had Merrill shoes (an excellent brand) on sale at 50% off.  Big score.  $60 rather than $120.  We also got a few other outdoor do dads.  We had an OK dinner out.  On our way home we stopped at Looking Glass Falls.  This is a beautiful sight right on the highway 276 that we travel every time we go up or down the mountain.  All you have to do is pull over and you're there.  You can walk down some easy steps to the bottom of the falls.  It's a glorious water fall but we've never stopped because the area has always been ridiculously crowded.  Not tonight.  There was almost no one there.  So we stopped, walked down the steps and enjoyed the serenity. 

Looking Glass Falls
Saturday Debbie and I branched out on our own to do a 5 mile hike that included part of the Art Loeb trail.  This is more of the alpine style hiking we recently did with the Hackers.  By alpine I mean the trail is at a relatively high elevation, largely out in the open and following a ridge or going from peak to peak.  We enjoyed what could be the best views ever while hiking.  We often could see for miles! 

We had lunch (ham sandwiches etc) at the top of Tennent Mountain, elevation 6000 feet.

We sat on a rock that appeared to be designed as the perfect bench.  Flat, level and at a nice ergonomic height.  We were nearly on the edge of the mountain.  Not fall to your death edge, just nothing in front of you other than a SPECTACULAR view!!!!!!!!  I'm going to have to say breathtaking. 

Lunch View
Beyond our lunch spot we enjoyed  multiple beautiful spots.  We spent about 5 hours on the trail.

Sunday we hiked again.  We wanted an outing for the dogs.  Something easy.  We drove down the mountain a few miles to the CoonTree trail.  The hike was to be about 4 miles. A nice distance for the dogs.  Plus the map listed its level of difficulty as moderate.   I....remember it was I, did no research on the hike.  I simply said "this looks like a good one."  Well, it was a great work out.  But it was a great work out because the trail can best be described in one word, STEEP.  I mean it was way steep on the way up and way steep on the way down.  It was steep all the way to the top of the mountain!  Really it was more than steep, it was steep and narrow with multiple log bridges.  We were dragging when we were finished but we remained in good spirits.  The boys were pooped. And now for the rest of the story.  The next day, Monday, Debbie did some research on the trail.  The point of the trail going to the top of the mountain was for great views.  To get to the views you had to leave the trail for a short distance.  But because "we" didn't do any research prior to the hike, "we" didn't know the views were there.  I don't imagine we do the hike again for the views.

We're working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Monday was Debbie's birthday.  We don't celebrate any occasions and this one was no different.  I did mention Debbie's birthday at our morning meeting with our volunteer group and we sang Happy Birthday.  Debbie has been talking about knitting some pot holders.  I'm thinking we could buy a couple but apparently Debbie is wanting to return to her pioneer roots.  Plus Sue, our fashionable grandmother type here, is an excellent needle person of all descriptions.  Debbie knows that she will give her any needed guidance.  So Monday night was the night to start.   Debbie trucked over to Sue's place, got some guidance as well as needles and came home full of enthusiasm.   Now understand I'm amused.  To me it's a unique sight to see Debbie just "gettin it" with sparks flying from her knitting needles.

Debbie with her knitting and new Slippers from Sue
She is mostly done now with the first pot holder.  I think there are more to come.  The icing on the cake of this story is that the wonderful Sue gave Debbie a pair of freshly knitted slippers for her birthday.  Sue is the best!

Thursday we're hiking with a crowd of our fellow volunteers. About 5 miles from the Pisgah Inn to the Cradle.