Thursday, August 27, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This has got to be one of my favorite pics of the whole trip... We stopped at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Tommie was checking it out...
Grandma couldn't listen to the fussing over who got to hold Nikon anymore... so she bought each of the boys their own black bear souvenir.
After the Mountain Farm Museum, we drove to Mingo Falls - the largest falls on the park map at 180 feet. It was beautiful! The photos do not begin to do justice to this waterfall. You climb up a massive staircase and wow... the falls "end" at the top.
Our plan was to visit Cherokee for the day, then stop at Morton's Overlook again to view the sunset. We read that it is one of the best locations to get a sunset photo. Remember the storm we just endured? Our sunset plans were foiled by lots of clouds & fog. At least I made good use of my new hoodie that I had just purchased in Cherokee. It was amazing that the temperature would be around 75 or so in Gatlinburg and would dip down to 62 on the mountain. Chilly for July!
Even though our sunset was foiled, we saw some really neat steam rising from the valley. We also took fun pics of the boys "falling" off of the mountain.Right about the time the sun was supposed to set, it started raining. Here we are... in the van... patiently awaiting the sunset that never came...Blue & gray were the only sunset colors we got... Although, how can you get a bad picture of a gorgeous mountain?
On Day 2, Linda, Tommie, myself, Harrison & Truman set out for the stables. We had read that a fun way to explore the mountains was via horseback. We'd have to agree that it was fun! Expensive, but worth every penny. We rode up the mountain, crossed mountain streams and rode back down. The ride was about 1 hour long. When I tried to take a picture of Nikon with the horse, the horse started eyeing him like he was going to eat him! I quickly snatched him up before Mr. Ed could have a snack.
Franklin & Poppy decided to stay back at the cabin & rest. While we were on the trail, they finally got up and decided to go see Laurel Falls. The trail was 1.3 miles to the waterfall (and 1.3 miles back)... they only made it about 1/4 mile before they decided it wasn't worth it. They had fun taking silly photos along the path anyway! (The sign reads: "DANGER Falling deaths have occured. Closely control children.")
After lunch, we loaded up the van and headed up to Clingman's Dome. CD is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains (6,643 feet) and is right on the border of North Carolina & Tennessee. The trail to CD is only 1/2 mile long and fully paved, however it is very steep. Thankfully, they have plenty of benches to rest on all the way up. The risk of hiking up to CD is that you may or may not be able to see anything. The Smoky Mountains aren't called smoky for nothing! We hiked to the top to find that visibility was nill. While we were up there, a big cloud came through and reduced visibility even more. In the photo of Tommie (upper left), I was standing about 10 feet from him and there was fog in between us. They have signs to the North, South, East & West showing what your view is of. Our view pretty much looked exactly the same to all directions. Gray fog and more gray fog. One thing we learned on this trip is that the weather in the mountains can change in seconds. The photo series below was taken in a period of 50 seconds. All three are looking toward the West from the top of Clingman's Dome. There was a small break in the cloud that came through and allowed (limited) visibility for a few seconds as it passed by. Then... back to more gray fog.
No matter what the visibility at Clingman's Dome, I had an ulterior motive for hiking all the way up. This is where the Appalachian Trail intersects with our travel plans. Being a Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration major in college, we learned all about the AT. A few years ago, I read the book "A Walk In The Woods" by Bill Bryson and learned all about his journey hiking the AT. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to see it. Even though we would only sample a small portion of the trail, I was so excited to step foot on it! Of course, everyone had to pose for pictures on the Appalachian Trail. It was absolutely gorgeous!! Very lush greenery combined with a rolling fog. God's creation at it's finest!
We survived the hike up and for some reason, the hike back down was MUCH easier. My father-in-law shot this pic as we came back down. My in-laws opted to stay at the bottom and take pics of mountain scenery while we were hiking.
On the way back to the cabin, we stopped at Morton's Overlook for some pics. I think I could stay in the mountains forever!
Technically, Day 1 of our vacation was spent driving from Indiana to Gatlinburg. The trip down went well, because we had two vehicles - therefore splitting three boys into two cars! We arrived at the cabin about 6 p.m. local time (after being stuck in traffic for 2 hours between Sevierville & Gatlinburg) and by the time we ate dinner and went to get groceries, it was a late night! I am counting Day 1 as the first full day of activities.