We’ve been chillaxin’ in Tennessee, cozily nestled in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is the view from our window:
Pretty awesome, huh? Ok, I didn’t actually take that picture from the window, but you get the idea. We have yards of romp-able grass and two fire pits AND functional internet, and we’ve somehow managed to scare all our neighbors away so we’re basking in the gloriousness of abundant space. When we let Koa out to run he starts circling the trees and growling under his breath and galloping like a horse. I’m pretty sure he’s trying to herd imaginary sheep, and my heart warms at the notion that he has space to let his imagination run free.
We made a fire in our creek-side fire pit the other night and attempted to cook our dinner over the open flame… the operative word there being “attempt”. How in the world did people cook food over the fire for thousands of years? We burnt our corn-on-a-stick, lost a pan in the flames, and singed our knuckles while failing to evenly roast hot dogs. Kali has fond memories of making Bread on a Stick with his dad while camping, so we prepared ourselves with a mini box of Bisquick. In addition to Bisquick it turns out you also need some skill to avoid dropping your would-be bread in the fire, though; long story short, we ended up eating a lot of raw dough and laughing at our epic failure while feeding Koa a significant amount of our “dinner”.
Later on in the week we took a lovely drive up to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee and the second highest east of the Mississippi. The weather was marvelous, but the higher we climbed the more snow we discovered. Icicles were hanging from the rocky mountainsides, wee little snowpeople were propped on cars and fences, and it was fracking cold. After a slow meander through the national park, we finally arrived close to the top of the peak and hiked the rest of the way up to an observation tower at the very top. From the signs posted along the way we slowly realized that we were hiking part of the Appalachian Trail! Woooo, high-five to us!!
Two days later we took another, less altitude-extreme, hike up to a waterfall. It was a bit less impressive than the 80-foot wonder Wikipedia promised, but there was a cheerful rainbow that kept surfacing over some of the rocks, which more than made up for it.
We met two older volunteer park rangers on the hike who were regaling people with stories of bear encounters. They were supposed to be cautionary tales, I think, but a nearby pack of pre-adolescent boys didn’t seem fazed in the slightest. All I kept thinking was that it’s a good thing we didn’t bring Koa – he hates bears.