Friday, April 27, 2012

Rainy Day in Cades Cove

A Rainy Day in the Smoky Mountains pt. 2

More Scenes from Cades Cove on a stormy day in spring:
There is something about an old country church that pulls at my heartstrings.  The church here on the mountain (where I live now) was an old white one like this. It burned in the 1950s and was replaced by the brick church that stands today.  These old country churches are beautiful.  How many weddings have they seen? How many funerals? How many tears were shed at the altar? How many romances were started by a sideways glance across the aisle?  How many recipes were swapped at dinners on the ground?  How many souls were saved? Churches like this were the heart and soul of a southern Appalachian community. This was the social center. Schools were often held in church. There were ice cream socials, box supers... How many memories are contained in these walls?
I love old cemeteries. If you take the time to read carefully and pay attention, they have many stories to tell.  Read carefully. Look at how the graves are placed in proximity to one another.  Do the math...
I met an old gentleman in a cemetery in the woods near Cosby, Tennessee some years ago. I commented on all the graves of children there. He told me that, in addition to lack of medical care, there was another reason for infant mortality in the mountains. He told me that, when a mother had twins, she often did not have the milk to keep them both alive.  She had to (his words) "Lay one down so the other one could live". If she tried to nurse them both, both would die. Can you imagine this?
 Beneath each of these stones lies a person with hopes and dreams just like you and I. I once read that, every time a person dies, it is like an entire library burning down.. Think about it.

The next time you find yourself near an old country cemetery, stop and look around. You might learn something.

Rainy Day in the Smoky Mountains pt 1

Since my daughter and I were out for Spring Break this week, we had originally planned a family camping trip. However, as the week wore on, it became evident that we were in for some cold (below normal) nights and some stormy weather. Now, I don't know about you, but cold nights with a five year old plus storms in a pop-up camper does NOT sound like my idea of fun. My husband only had a couple days off, so we decided to make a quick trip to the Smoky Mountains instead.  That's the cool thing about living so near the Smokies- we can be there in less than three hours.  I called one of our favorite, inexpensive "weekend trip " places- Johnson's Inn- and we were good to go.  It was a last-minute trip and we had no real plans- just to get away from it all.
I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do, but I did get a few.  We took a drive out to Cade's Cove.  Half way through, we were caught in a hail storm. That brought a quick end to the Cades Cove exploration as we hightailed it back to Gatlinburg for the Wing and Rib Fest. Unfortunately, the storms had caused the Wing and Rib Fest to be cancelled as well. :( Oh well... as soon as the rain ended we walked down to Crawdaddy's and had crab legs on the balcony as we watched the world walk by below.
All's well that ends well, I guess. :)

These first two were taken in White Oak Flats Cemetery. (Gatlinburg was originally called White Oak Flats.)  This is right in the middle of town, but most people don't know it is there.  I love to walk up here to get away form the crowds and noise. I like exploring old cemeteries and reading old grave stones.  I know some people think cemeteries are creepy, but I don't.  They are actually very interesting.

 We stopped by the sinks on the way to Cades Cove. This place has always fascinated me and terrified me at the same times. They have a lot of drownings here. Now, look at this place and tell me- would YOU try to swim in this? Not me!  The roar of the water is so loud here.  It's a beautiful place.

The rest of the pictures were taken in Cades Cove.  I've visited this place for years- in every season. I always find something new.  Every season here has its own beauty.  Today a storm was coming, so it shed a whole new light on familiar scenes.

 I took this one (above) because of the white path running across the field.  I wonder where it goes?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tex Mex Fantasy Dip

This dip is really easy to make. It is better if it sits in the fridge a while before serving.
First layer: 1-2 can refried beans. I used one can for this one. If I am going to a larger gathering I use two.

 2nd Layer- 7 oz. guacamole. I buy mine, but you can make your own. 
 3rd layer- 1 cup sour cream, 12 cup mayo and 1 pkg. taco seasoning. (This gets stronger as it sits. I don't use a whole package.I use a little more than half.)
 Next, add 1 cup green onions, sliced (tops and bottoms) and1 small can sliced black olives.
 Add 1-2 finely diced tomatoes.
 Cover with finely shredded cheese (Colby jack or cheddar) and refrigerate.
Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Picnic in the Pocket

It's been such a beautiful weekend! I can't stand to be indoors on pretty days. We decided to make a trip to the Pocket Recreation Area (near Villanow, GA). This little place is often overlooked, but it is a wonderful place to take your family for a camp out, or just for  day. I'm a firm believer in bringing kids up with a love and respect for nature. Too many kids today are couch potatoes. They've never been hiking through the woods. They've never played in a creek. That, my friends, is a crying shame. If you want to see your kid light up with a smile, take them to your nearest state park or recreation area. Explore. My family is lucky enough to live out in the country. Still, it's good to get out and explore new places. It's good to get away from it all as a family and just... be.
 What kid wouldn't love to splash in this creek?  This place is really clean..and peaceful. Although, in the summer, I would recommend coming on a weekday if you want to avoid larger crowds. There were kids playing here and there, families grilling and just hanging out.
 This is a waterfall on the John's Creek trail. Not too hard of a hike..but we did encounter one water snake and quite a bit of poison oak......Still, there was no one there but us.
 We saw this turkey near Lake Marvin. Actually, there were two, but one was camera shy.
The best thing about this place is that, for a day visit, it is FREE! (Camping is a whopping $10 a night.) If you want to spend some valuable time with your kids or grand kids, visit this place, or a place like it. Watch them play. Watch them laugh. Teach them about taking care of nature. I guarantee you that you will get as much out of it as they do. And they will carry the memories forever.
Peace. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Geo Fun

I've been looking into this Geocaching thing for a while and I decided it sounded like fun. Our family loves the outdoors, and every kid (and grown up) loves a treasure hunt. What more could you wish for? After signing up at, we decided to give it a shot. My husband and I found a couple caches near our home. Then, I found out the Georgia State Park System has this cool program for kids called the Geo-Challenge.  What? Visiting new places, time spent in the outdoors with family, an opportunity for my child to learn more about her home state? Where do we sign?
Today my little one and I visited our first park- James H. Sloppy Floyd State Park. It was close to home and we were already familiar with the area.   We picked up our passports at the park office. (Passports have the "rules", participating parks list, and a grid. Each time you locate a cache, you find the stamp inside and stamp your grid. Each time you get 15, you get a geo coin. Caches can have cool stuff inside them, too. See the website).
After a picnic, we headed out. OK, mom is not great with the GPS...but after walking in circles for a while (ahem) we headed in the right direction. It was a beautiful day. I took a couple pics of the trail as we hiked through the woods.

Being a little (ha!) inexperienced, I can't say it was an easy find for us, but boy, was it fun when we found it!
 We logged in with our ID. Then, Miss Priss took great pride in putting the first stamps on our Passports.
 The loot was cool, but I didn't see anything I needed. (There were some cool tree seeds, a State Parks Patch...) However, the little explorer found a coloring book set with crayons that she just HAD to trade for. After going through our trade items we found a fair trade and traded out.  This was a good lesson for her- it isn't free. You have to give something up- something of equal or better value. There are a lot of good lessons in this.
All in all, this was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  We got some exercise, we explored, we learned...and best of all, we were together. That's what it's all about, isn't it?