As a result of a recurring case of CRS (“Can’t Remember Stuff”) on the part of Your Blogmeister, I owe an apology to Val Mahoney, a regular blog reader and one of our hosts at the Brasserie du Soleil in Wilmington, for being remiss in not mentioning her in yesterday’s blog. Val, thank you again for your gracious hospitality and for keeping up with this blog. The next glass of Malbec is on me!
Following a night of poor sleep because of the stinkin’ rooster (“Isn’t that interesting?”), we walked over to Unity of Mills River for the 1030 service, where Suzanne gave the Sunday message. It was a special day, because the community was celebrating 30 years service by their guitarist, Dave de la Rosa. Dave played and sang several of the many songs he has written, and it was obvious that he was a beloved part of the church. Reverend Pat introduced Suzanne, and My Lovely Bride discussed her labyrinth experience the night before and shared evidence from her readings as well as her thoughts on the importance of Faith, Hope, and Love….
Our good friend Jennifer Chapman was there (our Klutzoid photographer forgot to get her photo), as well as De Ila (at right), a former llama farmer who had me in stitches. Seems that De Ila raised llamas for years, some of which served as caddies at a local golf course. I asked De Ila how the llamas gave visiting golfers advice on which club to use or how to play the green… she laughed and said that llamas hum. She then asked me if I knew why llamas hummed… I replied that I didn’t know, and she said, “Well, they can never remember the lyrics.” That makes sense…
Suzanne was pretty tired by that afternoon, and for the third day in a row we didn’t get in any real PT. We had been advised that DuPont State Forest, a mere 15 miles away, had some great waterfalls, so on Monday after she gave a reading, we donned our hiking boots and headed out for the trails. The first was to Hooker Falls, and no, it had nothing to do with female commercial fishermen from Atlanta. This was the view of the falls…
On the trail out, we met two kayakers carrying their playboats. Matt and Dan are kayak instructors at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, NC, where I had once taken a white water kayak course (yes, before they were born). They are both from Boston, and are attending college here in North Carolina while honing their outdoor leadership skills at NOC. Both young men intend on pursuing careers in outdoor therapy after graduation.
This was the scene on the Little River, which tumbles down the mountains in several lovely cascades like Hooker Falls. The trout fishing is said to be good, but since there were several rangers about, I left my hand grenades in the car.
Here is our Intrepid Hiker on a very eroded part of the trail, probably due to heavy rain over the past winter. What was very special along this section were swarms of Monarch butterflies, which unfortunately would not alight long enough to be photographed… since this part of the trail was along the Little River, we called it Little River Path, coincidentally the name of our street back in The Villages.
On Monday afternoon we mounted up and headed over the Smoky Mountains into Tennessee. At first the geography was very similar to that in North Carolina, beautiful forest-covered mountains… until we entered The Twilight Zone – the tourist town of Pigeon Forge. This is the home of Dollywood, the Titanic Restaurant, an Elvis Museum, a Hatfields and McCoys Shoot-Em-Up/Dinner Show, a Hollywood Wax Museum and a gigantic King Kong climbing a skyscraper next to a slightly modified version of Mount Rushmore… I hesitate to use the phrase “TACKY, TACKY, TACKY”… but it sure seems to be appropriate.
Fortunately, I had selected a campground on the quiet side of the Smokies, in relatively sleepy Townsend, TN. The Coach is now ensconced in one of the prettiest campgrounds we have ever stayed in along (what else?) Tennessee’s Little River (not the same river as in North Carolina).
The river is lovely, and provides a quiet refuge where we will recharge our batteries for the next few days and do some hiking in the nearby Smoky Mountains National Park. There are even squirrels here for Rudy and Gretchen to chase! Life is good… The only problem is that we might be kicked out of this campground after less than a day here… Gretchen is all a-twitter because there is a squirrel sitting on our picnic table just 10 feet from her window sentry post, and it’s hard for her to keep from squealing. We will have to pull the shades down when we go for a hike.