Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Isaac mostly a 'rain event'

Hurricane Isaac fails to keep fishermen at home in flooded area of Ocean Springs
Our travel plans over the past few days has  been mostly to Wal-Mart.

Why? Because Wal-Mart has all we need in order to prepare for a hurricane. I really didn't need much of anything but I went over there shortly after noon on Sunday.

I wanted to browse around and pick up an extra tarp. I was also interested in the reaction of local people to the approaching storm.

When I arrived, the "locusts" had already made their way through. About a 10-foot or longer display of flashlights was empty. Another 10-foot space of canned chicken (except for about 30 cans) was gone. Lanterns in the camping section had also disappeared.

Other shelf space throughout the store was empty. Water, batteries, and other so-called survival supplies were being checked out.

I asked the clerk when was their busiest time. She said, shortly after  9 a.m.  I was listening to the television, and at that time I heard that the track of the storm was forecast to be headed directly for Biloxi, our neighboring town.

Over the course of the history of Isaac, it has been predicted to hit a number of places including Tampa, FL where the Republican National Convention is being held. The storm was to head north and hit in the Sunshine State's panhandle area and then drench Georgia.

Forecasts kept pushing it to the west. It was maybe Pensacola, then Mobile, Biloxi and finally the Louisiana coast.

As I write this at about 6:18 p.m. Central Daylight Time Tuesday, Hurricane Isaac is moving into the mouth of the Mississippi River just south of New Orleans. The storm is expected to continue inland and make its way into northern Louisiana sometime late Wednesday.  It hasn't reached the wind speeds that were forecast and is being called a "rain event."

Later in the week it will finally diminish in intensity and dissipate.  

A lot of people are glad that it wasn't as strong as anticipated and that it hit farther west than expected. 

After all, Hurricane Katrina hit this area on Aug. 29, seven years ago. It is much too soon for another storm of such devastation.

Next post: Sept. 4, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hotel California, Florence, Italy style

Every now and then I think back to our trip to Italy in 2005 and wonder about the Hotel California.

In describing it to an individual recently, I sort of gave it a bad review, but that's only because the only thing I saw of the hotel were the entrance door off the street and the sign hanging on the side of the building.

View of bed in room from hotel's website

I wish we had gone in to check it out.

The singing group the Eagles had a hit in the US back in the 70's with a song of the same name and over the years it has been one of my favorite songs.

And in a post a while back, I did quote from the song concerning a situation that "could be heaven or it could be hell."

Interior shot from hotel's website

I have wondered about about the business in Florence and did I do it wrong.

After going on the internet, and checking out their website, I may have done it wrong.

Terrace shot taken from hotel's website

The pictures show an upscale hostelry and it appears to be one in which I would check out on a return visit.

With breakfast included, three nights in a double room runs $425.93 and the same time in a single room runs $325.93. Another website had the rooms listed less than those above.

I guess one would say those are fairly comparable prices and not too expensive although expensive to me is usually something more than $65 a night although I have gotten into the habit of plunking down $100 or more a night if the occasion called for it.

Reviews on the hotel were mixed.

For some, it "could be heaven," and for others, "it could be hell." Just depends.

Next post: Aug. 28, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Camping and a lot of mountain history

Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds more than a camping experience.

There's also a lot of history.

Restored Appalachian Clubhouse

The area was host to a robust lumbering industry. And then, savvy entrepreneurs turned it into a tourist mecca which offered a hotel and the development of a mountain community. A graveyard also adds its part.

Years ago, something like 15 or so, upon ending our camping experience, we would trek up to the Wonderland Hotel on the north end of the campground that last morning and have breakfast. It was a pleasant experience. The food was good and we got to look at the facility which, over the years, offered lodging to thousands and a respite to the everyday world.

Because of "back-to-nature" plans in the national park in 1992, the hotel doesn't exist anymore. 

Graveyard saying
On the southern end of Elkmont, members of the Appalachian Club had built numerous dwellings which they inhabited over the years. The well-to-do from Knoxville, who had owned the land, were given lifetime leases on their property upon establishment of the national park.

But that was changed. Leases were extended for 20 years in 1952 and again in 1971, but were not renewed in 1992.  At that time, plans were formulated to remove the structures and let nature take its course.

There were more than 18 cottages in the area, some listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That designation led to a debate over the fate of the structures. The debate lasted 15 years.

Now the move is underway to restore some of the cottages and outbuildings. The Appalachian Clubhouse has already been renovated and is being offered for social events. There is plenty of parking along with flush toilets and running water.

I have had mixed feelings about all that has transpired. On the one hand, it would be nice to have the area totally returned to its natural habitat. But in today's world, that is not that realistic.

There is also the historic aspect of the myriad of things that took place in the park over the years not related to nature, but to people.

I have walked along the Little River wondering what it would be like to have been able to live in one of the cabins abutting the river and listening to the rustling of the water 24 hours a day. I think it would have been great. 

Our family has spent a lot of time in the river, mostly tubing and just having fun, although it is always quite cold.

I know it must have been difficult for those families who had a 50-or-more-year history of owning the dwellings, to give up such an idyllic setting.

I know it would have been hard for me. 

Renovation is under way and a small part of history is being maintained.

Time marches on --- and it is not always in a direction to our liking.

Next post: Aug. 21, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chimney's Picnic Area a favorite

The Chimney's picnic area always beckons when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Well, its a picnic area, so when visiting it must be time to eat. If for no other reason, that's a good one.

Then there's the west prong of the Little Pigeon River gently coursing down the mountain or cascading over the ledges, depending on the rainfall.

And the rocks, here and there, in the river and out.

During the early spring, when there is no greenery on the trees, one can see a wider landscape since nothing is hidden behind leaves.

In late spring, one can find a variety of blooming flowers on the Cove Hardwood Nature Trail.

And then there is the cool rising up from the river that helps refresh the hottest person, even in the middle of the summer.

What was once a campground now offers about 100 picnic sites. While we always like to get one by the river, the sites are tucked into all areas making each one unique and beckoning and are enjoyed by thousands.

And for some reason, I find it interesting to witness the moss growing on the tops of the restroom facilities. It just looks old world -- whatever that means.

During our visit in July, like always, we usually make the complete circuit around the picnic area hoping to find a riverside site, but if not, we enjoy what is there.

On the beginning of our second trip around the area, a man in a vehicle by the river indicated they were leaving and motioned us to take the site.

It just so happened that they live just 15 miles from us back in south Mississippi.

Next post: Aug. 14, 2012