Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hiking In The Smokies, 1969

Being in the Smokies reminded us of our first hike, there, way back in June of 1969, the trail up to the lodge on Mt. LeConte. It was our first wedding anniversary, we were living in a small married student apartment in Alumni Village in Tallahassee, and, with a tent borrowed from neighbors Tawana and Wes, and a variety of ersatz items, we embarked on our first camping expedition. It was a year of firsts, and this was not the least of them!
On the trail; we are wearing our Good Humor jackets (!)

Note cable handrail

At the Lodge, 6,500+ feet; very high for Floridians

Back at our (first) campsite; note Tawana and Wes' tent

Picnic table set for anniversary dinner (steak, probably, from the Piggly Wiggly);
note also wedding candles, much shorter now, 50 years later; styro-foam cooler and
other camping accoutrements; and especially our first car, a 1964 Volkswagen
1500S Notchback; a car never marketed in the US (we bought it from a service-
man returning from Netherlands); what were we thinking?! Were we thinking?!!!

First campfire: a wonder we didn't burn the great national park down!

Hiking At Ijams Nature Center

One of Knoxville's treasures is the Ijams Nature Center, a 300+ acre urban wilderness area near the origins of the Tennessee River. Ijams offers a variety of recreational and educational opportunities. During our month+ in Knoxville, we visited twice, focusing on the 10-12 miles of hiking trails, along the river and through the former limestone quarry. Ijams is just a few miles from downtown Knoxville and is indeed a treasure.
The first mile or so of the Tennessee River, which forms from the confluence of
the memorably-named French Broad River and some other less memorably-named
river; runs pretty much the width of Tennessee, more than 600 miles, before
joining the Ohio and eventually the Mississippi

Interesting berries and other such still green in the first weeks of the fall
(beautyberries...thanks, Susan!)

Bee hive raided by a raccoon (?)

Primitive rest area

"This was once the great watch-tower of Amon Sul"; wait, no...

Cup marks? Maybe not

Wilderness picnic area

In Montana, we would call this a war lodge; perhaps not in

Summit of Tower Hill (there's a small airport nearby)

Knocking About In Knoxville

We were a month+ in Knoxville, house-sitting for Vicki's sister Marie while she and husband Norm were on a trans-Pacific cruise, re-positioning from LA to Singapore. Alas, we did not see too many of Knoxville's cultural and other wonders and treasures. We spent a fair amount of time with niece Stacey and her sons, James and Jason. And we spent a fair amount of time watching TV: a luxury for us, since our normal travel mode pretty much excludes the tube. Vicki devoured Outlander and Call the Midwife, and I missed few NCAA or NFL games of significance. And then there was the impeachment, and many hours of watching MSNBC. Norm and Marie's apartment sits astride one of Knoxville's many green-ways, and we did establish a basic walking/interval-running and weight-lifting regimen, which was helped along by mostly warm and sunny weather in October. And we did a few hikes.
Meanwhile, back in Menlo Park, the best log sculpture ever, so far: a huge book
bench, outside the public library; actually two of them, so good I had to work them
in somewhere... 

Practice makes perfect: after years of packing checked bags to the limit, Vicki has
attained perfection, attested to by the airline scale


Our dining experiences in Knoxville were governed to some extent by Jason's
tastes, as it were, and the McCoy Selective Eating Disorder; here we are at Blaze,
which does for pizza what Chipotle does for Mexican food (except the salmonella);
I actually like the place; for $5 you can have something resembling a real Italian
pizza (bring your own anchovies)

At a nearby elementary school on our green-way walk; y'all

Mantis encountered on a walk: "in nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti..." he was

At a nearby liquor store: so I asked the clerk what they meant by adventurism, and
he responded "oh, you know, zip-lines, bungy, rock-climbing..."; I forgot to ask
whether they sold Trump wine

One of the very good things was a visit from Tallahassee friends Susan and Ken,
returning from a tour of the northeast

After Marie and Norm returned in early November, we undertook a drive and
short hike in the nearby Smokies 

Marie and Vicki

Norm and Marie, powering through the world's worst jet lag
(Singapore is exactly 12 hours on the other side of the planet)

Vicki and me, Laurel Falls, GSMNP

Pretty much the height of fall foliage in the Smokies

On another hike: Jason, Norm and Stacey

I left Knoxville on November 7th; the weather changed
drastically by November 12th

Above Knoxville, en route to DC

Landing at National