Monday, October 25, 2010

Socializing (Pisgah Forest, NC)

We've recently been enjoying lots of socializing which is quite unusual for Debbie and I. On the 13th  we went to Donna and Bart's house in Easley, SC.  It's about 1 1/2 hours from here.  Bart and Donna have been here as long as us but they have entirely different schedules.  Consequently, we've only enjoyed pleasant conversation with them.  Bart is a great guy and Donna is like award winning nice!  Their log cabin home sits on 28 acres and is lovely!  Their neighbor has goats.  Too cute.  Bart and Donna previously owned a campground with 42 sites.  We just had a very nice day with them.  We yakked, went to lunch, toured a little bit of Greenville and cruised the old campground.  Then we headed home.

Thursday, the 14th, we joined Bart and Donna again.  This time we gathered at the volunteer activity center to learn how to play dominoes.  It was great.
Friday we worked and Saturday Debbie and I went to a Fall Festival in Waynesville, NC.  That's about an hour from here.  Sometime in years past we've attended this festival before.  As before, the festival has great energy.  Food, crafts, music and cloggers.  My face hurt from smiling.
Sunday we were off again.  This day we went to Sapphire, NC, about an hour away, to go hiking with Charlie.  Debbie has known Charlie for maybe 25 years, me maybe 20.  Charlie lived in Summerville.  He moved to NC and we hadn't seen him for about 3 years.  He invited us to join him for a hike.  We spent several hours with Charlie, his sons Gregory and Kevin as well as Diana, Kevin's friend.  We hiked in area known as Panthertown Valley.  Strenuous hike, beautiful scenery, great visit.

Charlie points the way to Panthertown 

Panthertown Valley View

Another Panthertown Valley View

Gregory, Diana and Kevin

Duane and Charlie at the Lake By Charlie's Condo

It's a Beautiful Lake!!!
And we continue. We left Charlie's at about 4:45 and had to be back at the Cradle for a spaghetti dinner at 6pm.  We just made it.  Dave and Ardi had invited our "team" to join them for dinner. Another great event.   This is a wrap for the social butterflies.

Life is great!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Clingman's Dome and Cades Cove Visit (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Today we traveled.  We took the dogs and drove to Clingman's Dome in the Smokey National Mountain Park.  Normally it would be about a 2 hour drive.  The drive and the leaves were beautiful so we took much longer.  We strolled (it was a huffer and puffer) to the top of the look out at Clingman's Dome.  It was nice.  It was unfortunate to see all the dead trees.  A product of pollution and disease I believe.  Still a nice outing.
You still have to climb this tower after already walking 1/2 mile straight up!

Unfortunately the view included many dead trees
Still an expansive beautiful view
Then we headed for Cades Cove in Tennessee.  Maybe another hour or so.  Prior to entering Cades Cove we went to find lunch.  As you leave the Smokey Mountain Park you enter Gatlinburg.  From our point of view you can't exit quickly enough.  Way too congested! So we left and drove on to Pigeon Forge.  3 - 4 more miles and we stopped at the first place that appealed to us - Cracker Barrel.  Nice lunch,  then we headed back to Smokey Mountain Park and entered Cades Cove.  The primary focus is an 11 mile loop through the valley.  Everyone hopes to see bears but they did not appear for us, although we saw a few deer.

There are some buildings from the early 1900's but we didn't stop at them.  It was just a pleasant drive through the valley.  Very much like the Cataloochee Valley that we've visited twice to see the elk.

I find it interesting to imagine the communities that settle in these well defined valleys.  It's obviously such a natural place to settle.  Love those pioneers!   We headed home about 5:45pm.  Driving directly it would take about 3 hours.  Oh what a drive!  I won't bore you with the details but much of the drive included utter darkness on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a driving rain (is that a pun?), the road lines obliterated by fallen mushy leaves, fog (I didn't think you could have fog with rain) and finally HAIL!!!  It was a little tense.  Home sweet home was just that!

Good Night,


Friday, October 8, 2010

Hiking Day (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Today was a hiking day. First we drove to Sapphire, NC to hike Whiteside Mountain. We took the dogs. The hike is only 2 miles round trip with 800 feet gain in elevation. The return on a relatively easy hike is spectacular. Once you're at the top you walk for about 100 yards along the top edge of the mountain (there are often cable barricades to keep you from falling to your death) enjoying endlessly wonderful views.

After we hiked down we sat at a picnic table to enjoy our hike lunch. (Oh how our life has changed.) While there we had a chicken like bird visit our table. He was fearless! He wasn't the least bit intimidated by either Bo or Laska.   We did do a little research when we got home and we're pretty certain the bird is a Ruffed Grouse, but if anyone knows for sure, please let us know!

We then drove to the Lower Whitewater Falls which is just over the state line in SC. We entered the hike area through a Duke Power Plant entrance...interesting. The hike is described as 2 miles. We don't know why. You hike half a mile to the trail head and then the hike is 3.4 miles round trip. That equals 4.4 miles. I know, impressive math! But the hike was cool. The trail was a rolling route through untouched forest. The destination was a deck overlook to view a waterfall with a 200 foot drop!!!!!!!!! What can I tell you. You just had to be there.

Happy Hiking!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Carl Sandburg (Pisgah Forest, NC)

Today we played tourist and toured Carl Sandburg's home in Flat Rock, NC.  It's about a 45 minute drive from here.  Flat Rock is a very cute little town.  There's lots of nice real estate and the Flat Rock Playhouse Theater. The unique little "downtown" area is no more than a small collection of restored little store fronts that house eateries and gift shops.  We had a great lunch at the Hubba Bubba Barbecue.  Very nice.  We cruised the shops.  We don't need ANYTHING but we did buy a 1918 edition of Needlecraft magazine for the wonderful Sue.  She has done SO much for Debbie teaching her to knit and crochet.  We then headed for Connemara, the home of Carl Sandburg.  There, we watched an informative video about Carl Sandburg and then we toured the house.  Following Mr. Sandburg's death in 1967, his wife sold the house and donated all the contents to the National Park Service.  Consequently, the house contents are those left behind in 1967.   A very interesting walk back into history.  Lots of the stuff looked mighty familiar. 

Carl Sandburg Home


Dining Room


After the house we headed for the barns to visit the goats.  Mrs. Sandburg raised world class goats and there are still goat ancestor there at the estate. 

The Sandburg's Barn

And Goats

This guy was particularly friendly
We wrapped up our visit walking some of the trails on the grounds of Connemara.  We couldn't resist taking pictures of the pretty flowers and lake.



Nice day!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Too Busy To Post??? (Pisgah Forest, NC)

I was talking to Aubree today - great conversation.  When we got around to what have Debbie and I been doing, my answer seems rather lame.  I said, " we do our little volunteer gig, we walk the dogs, I read, Debbie crochets, I like doing picture puzzles, we watch the tube, hike and that's about it".  But when I get around to blogging, I realize many days have past and I barely remember what we've done.  So I guess the bottom line is somehow we're quite busy with our simple life, love it and have trouble finding time to blog.  I'm sharing this for whomever is listening and for prosperity.  Henceforth, I won't attempt to account for everyday, I'll simply blog about "meaningful events" and whatever else moves me.

September 24 we hiked with Dave and Ardie.  We drove about 2 hours to the Newfound Gap in the Smokey Mountains National Park.  Pleasant drive.  Our goal was to hike to Charlie's Bunion.  It's 8 miles, round trip.  It follows a small portion of the Appalachian Trail (AT).  That made it special.  It was a moderately challenging hike due to the endless irregular footing.  Charlie's Bunion is a sizable rock cropping at about 5500 feet that juts way out into space over looking a great valley.  At the ultimate destination the footing now verges on hazardous.  One can be sensible and safe but one does want to pay attention.  We were both and returned without incident.  One special stop was at an AT shelter.  For those of us new to the AT it was interesting to see one of these structures.  I believe they're spaced along the entire length of the AT providing much needed shelters for hikers.  I was told by, what appeared to be a seasoned hiker at the shelter, that this particular shelter was built in 1938 by the CCC.  It was a very solid structure built of rock and timbers. We drove home safely concluding a great outing.

Warning Sign

Duane on Charlie's Bunion

View from Bunion
September 28 Debbie and I did a repeat hike up Mt. Pisgah.  The first time we did this hike early in our stay here the area was covered with fog.   The 28th was sunny and clear......until we got to the top.  It was better but the view still restricted.  My guess is we'll do it again during the peak of leaf season.

View from Mt. Pisgah before the fog set in
Happy Trails