Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sometimes we just have to adapt

Campfire does the job providing heat to cook our breakfast
 My wife and I like the out of doors, and especially camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

But it does not come without a few negative aspects that are sometimes unexpected.

And such was the case on our last visit back in late September, early October.

Our oldest son and his family joined us for a few days.  It was great and I was well prepared in that, basically I did most of the cooking and had two Coleman stoves along with the stove that came with our Viking camper.

For two mornings it was easy to fix bacon and eggs, pancakes and toast along with having the requisite amount of coffee.

We brought two extra folding tables on which to do the cooking.

But it wasn’t until after our son and his family left that we ran into a problem.

I was cooking breakfast one morning and discovered that something had gone wrong with the gizmo that connects the propane tank to the stove. It had sprung a leak and upon trying to light it, an unexpected flame burst forth.

I blew out the flame, but then unexpectedly encountered a problem with the second Coleman stove.

What to do?

Well, we were  camping and we had a fire and a fire ring had a grate that would hold our pots and pans for cooking.

So we went back to the old-fashioned way of cooking over a wood fire and it turned out rather good.

I’ve already gone to Walmart and bought two replacement parts in preparation for our next outing. Cooking over wood is OK when needed.

Next post: Nov. 1, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Great trail for physically challenged

With all the rugged trails criss-crossing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it was nice to find a short one that was well-suited for the physically challenged.

On vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently, we discovered a walking trail which I assume has been there a number of years.

It is just about a mile or so south of the Sugarlands Visitor’s Center. We have passed the location numerous times, but this is the first time we paid more attention.

We noticed that most of the parking spaces were designated for the handicapped so we returned the next day to find out what was going on.

We found the Sugarlands Valley Trail, a path that was suitable for people who are wheelchair-bound or have trouble walking.

Although my wife survived a stoke five years ago, she doesn't need a wheelchair, but she does like walking on smooth, level ground. 

And this trail was ideal as it was paved the whole half-mile distance and did not change in elevation.

The loop nature trail makes its way through the verdant forest and past old homesteads with just the fireplaces remaining.

Just a few feet from the path is a slowly moving stream.

It takes about 45 or so minutes to meander along the forest floor and cover the distance.

For the physically challenge, it can be a great place to enjoy a quiet piece of the national park.

Next post: Oct. 25, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It was cold; and there was a bear, too

Skupien family enjoying Elkmont campfire
Our fall visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year had us shivering in our sleeping bags.

It was sort of frigid!!! But for only a few nights.

Every other year we go from a full group (both sons and their families) visit in the summer, to a trip with only one son with his family, in the fall.

This year the trip was a week later than normal, and therefore colder as a front moved in while Hurricane Matthew was picking up strength down in the Caribbean with plans to go up the East Coast.

We know about hurricanes, having lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast since 1970 while experiencing Katrina, Elena and Frederic among others. We felt the effects of Camille in 1969 although not living on the coast at the time.

But anyway, back to the trip.

Our Viking popup camper did good, being able to contain heat from our Coleman catalytic heater both in the morning and night.

We warmed the camper up getting ready for bed, and then I got up in the morning and turned in on so we would be more comfortable getting ready for the day.

After three nights of temperatures somewhere in the high 40s, the lows started moving a little higher and it was more comfortable.

My wife and I go a few days earlier than the others. And stay a few days later.

Because my son has a vehicle barely big enough for his wife and four kids, we go by their house early and throw their six sleeping bags, six chairs and two tents into our high-rise, long-wheel base van.

The pop-up is already loaded with everything else.

As my wife said, there wasn’t much color during our visit, although there were a lot of leaves on the ground.

We camped eight nights and then decided to make it a one-day trip (600 miles) back home.  We got in late and took a couple days to recuperate.

I love the mountains, and even though it got cold, it didn’t curb my enthusiasm for the area.

And, by the way, we also managed to see a bear.

Next post: Oct. 18, 2016