Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Weather allows another Big Easy jaunt

The weather finally turned a little cooler along the Gulf of Mexico during November so we decided to include New Orleans and French Market beignets in a trip that ended up in Baton Rouge.

New Orleans is usually rather hot and humid from May to October, so we steer clear unless it is necessary to go to the Big Easy.

I don’t know what it is about the routine of the type of visit we take numerous times during the year, but we do enjoy the time and the food.

The standard routine includes  a reststop at the Jax Brewery building, a visit to the Cafe du Monde and then a walk around Jackon Square.

There seems to always be something new to experience, new species of critters and then signs that profess to provide miracles.

This particular occasion was the first time we were entertained by a couple playing violins. Others gathered around to enjoy the sidewalk concert in Jackson Square. 

I can enjoy all types of music, and this particular couple were geared up toward a more high-brow style.

I just had to ask them if they knew any bluegrass tunes, but the woman didn’t know what I was talking about. Her ascent impressed me as her being from Europe. She sounded kind of French.

Happy Thanksgiving and good luck to those traveling along the Eastern Seaboard this week. It seems the weather is really going to be a bummer.

Our plans include heading out next week and possibly ending up in Gatlinburg for their Christmas parade.

We missed being there when it snowed in October and maybe we'll get a little dusting this time.

Next post: Dec. 2, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Riding that river can get pretty tough

 On our recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, we took a orchard side trip and ended up passing through McCaysville, GA.

Earlier in the day we went through Blue Ridge and visited the           Mercier Orchard.

We traveled a little further west and ended up at the Mountain View Orchard, a U-Pick-It business outside McCaysville. My wife wanted to see if they grew the Yates apple which she says has a very tart taste.

We found the business, and The Cider House restaurant, but they didn’t have those apples.

One of the workers, or maybe he was the owner of the orchard, said they did have about four of those particular trees but weren’t having much luck with them this year.

The trip to the orchard was outside of the town and took a few minutes to get there.

On the way back, we decided to stop and take a few pictures of some rather interesting characters positioned on a kayak and in a bathtub just a few yards away from the Toccoa/Ocoee River. The river carries both names along a 93-mile stretch in North Carolina and northern Georgia.

The letters TRA were emblazoned on the displays. I didn’t take the time to find out what TRA stood far and left the area.

Typing in TRA on the internet I came across the website of Toccoa River Adventures, a company that offers tubing, canoeing and kayaking trips on the Toccoa/Ocoee River.

I trust that most of their customers end up in a better condition than those in these pictures.

Next post: November 25, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One-way trip slow, but adventurous

 My wife and I like to think, at times, that we’re taking a death-defying adventure.

So every now and then, when up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we decide to take one of their one-way roads, of which there are a few.

This past October, the Heintoga Road was on our agenda.

The road begins high atop Balsam Mountain and winds its way down to Cherokee NC, some 28 miles away although the one-way part is only about 11 miles.

Its not the first time we have taken the road, and probably won’t be the last.

One previous trip we were in the van of my brother-in-law and he was doing the driving. My wife, sister, brother and his wife were aboard. That trip was an adventure. We were young, he was a mechanic (and could make repairs if needed), and he drove as though we were on a LeMans course. Down and down, around and around, seemingly faster (15 or 20 mph) as we got closer to the bottom.

Those were the good ole days.

Well, this last trip wasn’t like that. We had an aged van, it was just the two of us, some 30 years older, and we just mosied down the side of the mountain, enjoying the terrain, some fall colors and the fact that there weren’t any more vehicles anywhere nearby.

It was slow-going. The drive seemed longer than the last time, and rougher. The unpaved, rutted road, offered up more exposed rocks which I didn’t seem to remember in the past.

Down and down we went and, since you are reading this, we made it.

On the final stretch, along a two-way section on the bottom, we pulled off overlooking a stream and had lunch.

The trip is not for everyone. I read a review, and what the guy said about the adventure was true, but he just didn’t like that kind of adventure. He didn't like the fact, the trip was slow and there weren't any panoramic vistas.

Others truly love the drive because of what it is — a serene stretch of wilderness road with bumps and turns and your vehicle not going more than about 10 miles per hour -- and very few other humans.

Next post: Nov. 18, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Snowfall adds beauty, work at LeConte Lodge

Deep snow at LeConte Lodge (Photo from High on LeConte blog site)

We missed the event by four days, but that’s the way things happen.

Wifey and I last week spent a few days in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We camped at Smokemont, just north of Cherokee, NC, for two nights The skies were clear, the temperatures on the cool side. I loved it.

Not quite rocking chair weather (Photo from High on LeConte blog site)

Earlier this year I told wifey that sometime in December or January, when snowfall was expected, I wanted to drive up and experience the beauty of the area in white.

Little did I know that the area was going to have an even earlier snowfall than usual. We left Monday morning and traveled to Marietta, Ga., to visit family. Weather reports indicated that north Georgia was possibly going to get a dusting of snow.

Skies turn clear following snowfall (Photo from High on LeConte blog site)

But what happened where we were camping, was unbelievable. A foot or more of snow fell in the area. We didn’t realize that would happen when up there, and because of other obligations, we had to head on home.

Portions of the park were closed, Interstate 40 through the mountain pass was closed, as was other avenues of travel.

Gatlinburg had snow. Cherokee had snow. And we didn’t.  

Snow piles up at LeConte Lodge (Photo from High on LeConte blog site)

But we did learn of a website that would give us daily updates of what is going on at the higher elevations.

On the top of Mt. LeConte is a lodge of sorts. We hiked up to it years ago, but never got around to spending the night.

Well, we found out that there are those who spend all winter there, taking care of the place and hosting travelers. And they have a daily blog called  “High on LeConte”  (www.highonleconte.com/daily-posts)

Since I found out about their blog, I decided to steal a few pictures so others will know about their site and enjoy the beauty of the elevated areas during the year.

They offer an online store that allows ordering of different kinds of merchandise.

We have never met bloggers Chris and Allyson Virden, but hope to some day, although we would probably have to run across them at a lower elevation. Age sort of keeps us off the mountain tops.

We can only wish them the best of luck as they take care of one of the great places in the park.

Next post: November 11, 2014