Thursday, May 18, 2017


We have taken some odd things on trips.      Sometimes, we don't take enough; sometimes, we take way too much.  
We have taken food and water, apparently thinking that wherever we were going didn't have such things.  
We used to take a bag full of books; now we take a loaded Kindle and a bag of books in case we forget to charge the Kindle's battery.  
Hub does most of the driving, so I usually take something to do with my hands, like knitting or sewing. I hand-quilted a full-sized quilt once on a trip to Sisters, Oregon, to a quilt show. 
We have taken loaded weapons through states where it may or may not have been legal. 
We have taken framed photos of our granddaughters to decorate our hotel room. 
We have taken our own pillows, then left them in hotels in North Carolina and Oklahoma.
We have bought plants when we were far away, then struggled to get them home alive. 

Yep, we have packed some crazy and totally unnecessary things, but we have never taken a car door on vacation with us.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bus Adventure

Wilderness Wildlife Week offers excursions to various places in the Smoky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area.  These excursions are highly desired, and you have to enter a lottery to get a seat on one of them. On lottery night,  Hub and I got tickets, and mine was one of the first ones called.  You could register up to four people, so Hub got to go with me.  Two excursions are allowed per ticket; I chose the American Eagle Foundation/Bush Beans trip and a photography trip with a professional photographer as our guide.  Today, I am going to tell you about our photography trip, which turned a little differently than originally planned.

We were scheduled to be at the LeConte Center at 8:15 AM for the 8:30 departure.  After we got there, we were told the trip would be delayed for at least an hour.  (The bus driver told us later that the tour company didn't bring enough buses, and he had to go to Knoxville to get the one we were on.) It was about ten when we finally got on the road.

What a lovely day it was; blue skies and warm temperature with a breeze.  Our bus driver took us down Wears Valley Road to the Cade's Cove entrance.  If you have traveled that road, try to imagine those curves on a big tour bus!  Our driver did a stand-up job, and I suspect he had driven this road many times before.

While en-route, our most excellent guide, professional photographer Colby McLemore, kept us entertained with lessons on taking photos.  One thing I learned was that you can take wonderful photos with your cell phones, but you really shouldn't use it for selfies, since it has a wide-angle lens.

We entered Cade's Cove on the narrow one-way loop, and all of us were looking for wildlife.  We saw some turkeys first thing, but the usually copious deer were no where in sight.  We stopped at the old Methodist Church, everyone with their camera ready.

This is the church steeple that I shot; I love putting leaves in the foreground.

Same steeple that Colby shot with my camera.  The steeple is more defined than it is in my shot.

We enjoyed seeing the church and grounds.  In a few minutes, we were loaded and counted and ready for our next adventure.  The driver cranked the bus, and with a shutter and a big belch of black diesel smoke, the bus died.  Graveyard dead.

There is no cell phone service in Cade's Cove.  We got off the bus, which was a little stuffy with 24 people and no air conditioning.  In twenty or thirty minutes, a park maintenance crew member came by on his tractor, which had a radio.  He called in to the park office, and they were able to contact the people at the Wilderness Wildlife Week.  They quickly set about getting another bus for us, and rescued us about three hours later.

If you have to be stranded, you couldn't pick a more beautiful place than Cade's Cove. We used our time working on our photo skills, and visiting a little.

We had watched this black bear for a while, but it was not until she came out of the high grass that we were able to see that she had her babies with her.

If the bus hadn't died, we would have missed seeing this mama and her cubs.  At times like this, you don't worry about your photo skills, like finding a proper foreground and background and the rule of thirds.  You just point and clink and thank God for letting you be in this fabulous place!

This is the replacement bus they found for us.  It was old enough to have comfortable leg room, and it seemed to have no fear of traveling narrow roads where the tree limbs were hitting us on both sides.

To insure that nobody went home in a bad mood, Colby bought us all ice cream cones at the end of the day.

Pretty sure it will take many moons and the loss of multiple brain cells before I forget this day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wilderness Wildlife Week

Last week, we were able to spend some time in my favorite place, the Smoky Mountains.  We were there for Wilderness Wildlife Week, several days of events about Appalachia. It was held at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge.

Wilderness Wildlife Week was named top international event of 2016. People come from all over the United States and several foreign countries to attend this event.  It was started in 1991, and celebrated 27 years last week.

There were stories and lectures about the folk life of the mountains.  We heard from writers, park rangers, hiking guides, photography experts, and crafts people on a wide range of subjects.  There was old and modern music on instruments one doesn't see everyday. Of course, there was some Appalachian cooking, too! It was an amazing week.  Next year, the dates are May 8-12, and it is already on my calendar.

These photos are from the Cade's Cove area.  It hasn't changed much since the park was established in 1934, but it never gets old to me.

We are always happy if we see one black bear; this trip, we saw eight.  More photos later.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Smoke on the Water Festival

Hub and I attended the Smoke on the Water Festival last Saturday, April 29, in beautiful McFarland Park.  There was a mass of humanity there.  Apparently, there is something about the smell of barbecue in the air that gathers people together.

This was the festival's second year, and event coordinators are calling it a huge success.  Funds raised from the event benefits Shoals Scholar Dollars, a community scholarship program.

We sampled six different kinds of barbecue, and surprisingly, they were all very unique. A couple of them were a little too sweet for me, but they were all good.

Several different musical acts entertained all day. Will and Janet McFarlane were on stage while we were there. You can see that it was a little windy that day.

Hub loves the vintage cars.  Personally, I like new cars, but that's just me.

McFarland Park is a perfect place to spend a spring Saturday.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Music in the Park: Joseph Baldwin

It was a perfect day for music in beautiful Wilson Park.   I'm so happy I got to be there.

Music in the Park is every Wednesday during May and June, from 11:30 to 1:30.  Great entertainment, and its free!  Thanks, Florence Parks and Recreation.