Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Annual Corn Maize I mean Maze trip

Thursday we decided to make our annual trip to the corn maze in Corryton, TN at Oakes Farm. This has been a tradition of ours for the last 5 years. Every year before Halloween, we make the journey to Oakes Farm to find our way through the corn maze and to take a hay ride to their pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin or three. Each year the maze is a different design. In the maze there are numbered posts with a hole punch. Before entering the maze they give you a map card with numbers on it that you must punch out with the hole punches at each of the posts. Once you've completed the maze with the correct punches, you can submit your card for a prize drawing. Well we've never submitted our card, it's prize enough to know that we can read a map and make it through the maze in the dark.

Their is more there than just the maze and the hay ride. They also have a maze that is haunted. In years past, they only had the one maze and on certain nights it was a haunted maze. The first time we went it was haunted. Let's just say that we've made sure to go on un-haunted evenings since. Now they have a separate maze that is haunted so when you go you can choose either the non-haunted or the haunted or, if you can afford it, both.

Well this year we went and were able to make it through the maze again with out getting lost, and collect all the punches. We decided however not to take the hay ride and opted instead to buy pumpkins that they had out front the barn. We had a really good time and got one nice big pumpkin and one warty pumpkin that we thought would be really cool once carved. So if you ever find yourself in the area during the Fall season and like mazes, be sure to take a trip out to Oakes Farm and go through the corn maze.

And now for the pictures. Enjoy!

Ashby in front of Wagon

Tim and Ashby on the Pumpkin Truck

Enter the Corn Maze

Tim and Ashby in the Corn Maze

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cumberland Gap Birthday Camera

September 28th was Robin's birthday and having got her a new Panasonic DMC-TZ4 camera, she wanted to get out and about and play with it some. So without any plan in hand, we got into the car and I took us North. We ended up heading to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park at the TN/VA/KY border. We stopped at the visitor center and walked around the grounds for a few while Robin took some photos.

After getting the pictures she wanted we decided to head up to top of the mountain to Pinnacle Overlook. Up here, there is a wonderful view back into the valley of Harrogate. Along the trail to the overlook there is a spot where the border between KY and VA runs across the trail. Upon seeing this, Ashby, our trusty sidekick Clover, and Me all stood stradled over the line so Robin could get a shot of being in two states at the same time.

Anyway, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park is a pretty big park with lots to do. So if you ever find yourself up that way, take some time to check the area out. You'll be glad you did.
So now it's time for what everyone likes: THE PICTURES.

Ashby, Tim, and Clover enjoy a view from the rocking chairs.

A tobacco worm that about climbed my leg.

The Traders Post

A look inside the trader's post

Ashby in Red

Clover and Me

Ashby and the Corn

Robin and Clover at the Foot of the Pinnacle

Ashby, Tim, and Clover get two states for the price of one

Ashby fire away.

Robin, Ashby, and Clover Sittin Purty

Robin and Clover Perched on a Rock

Fort Norris Dam???

It was a couple of weekends ago, and we had originally thought about going hiking after running some chores. By the time we were done with our chores, the kids (Ashby and JoJo) were done at the movies and ready for us to come pick them up (I know what you're thinking, no we didn't let two 12 year olds go to the movies by themselves. They were with Jody's mom, Aunt Patty). So we picked them up and ended up taking the kids to Norris Dam State Park, to let them play on the playground located behind the pool area, and of course to let Robin play with the new digital camera I got her for her birthday, a Panasonic DMC-TZ4. We also took our trusty side kick, Clover Beene. She loves to go to the park.

So we went to the park and the kids played and posed. Clover sniffed all over and well I won't mention what else, and Robin played with her new camera. The playground at Norris Dam State Park is this huge fort playground. We've been here before, and I tell you want, I wish I had got to play on a playground like this when I was a kid. Of course I really can't do the playground justice with words so I will post the picture instead along with some other nice shots Robin took with her new camera.

Little Creek outside the visitor center

Mirror Images

Sign post at Visitor Center

Ashby on the Fort

Beene in the Fort

Beene goes sliding

Jojo in Fort Prison

Okay, so we didn't get any good photos of the whole fort but the next time we are there, we'll be sure to get one. Regardless, if you happen to find yourself at Norris Dam State Park make sure you check the playground out (Kids or Not).

Catch ya on the trails and out in the parks.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Looking for the Big South Fork, again, at Angel Falls

It was September 21st and the weather was wonderful. With that being the case, we had the itch to get out and enjoy. It's definitely that time of year where we like to get out more often and hike, stargaze, camp, and everything else that comes with Fall. This time around we decided to head to the Big South Fork. It had been sometime since we had been down the Angel Falls trail in the Leatherwood Ford area. The trail itself is beautiful. There are several gorges that run from the hill out to the river and are passable by nice wooden bridges. Also, there are beautiful views of the river all along the trail.

I would tell you about the falls but unfortunately we didn't quite make it back there. Robin and Ashby weren't feeling too good so we turned around about a half mile in and hiked back out. Clover, our trusty side kick enjoyed the hike, or should I say sniff, as always. However, she has still yet to find the "Big South Fork". She is hoping there is some good food on it when she does find.

Unfortunately, we have no pictures for this one so with that said... stay tuned for the Fort at Norris. There are definitely pictures for that one.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Have Gems? We'll Travel..

A couple of weekends ago, August 23, 2008, we hopped in the car and headed out towards Coker Creek, TN. We asked lil' bit (Ashby) what she wanted to do for her birthday, rather than have a big party. As it turns out we mentioned taking her to go gem mining as we had heard about this place from a couple of our HAM (Cathy KI4YPO and Rick N4JTQ) friends. When she heard about gems and mining she was totally game.

So off we went to Cokercreek. Cokercreek is about an hour and a half drive from Knoxville, TN past just south of Tellico Plains. It's a quaint little town filled with artisans and craftsmen, and a natural beauty that is to die for. Upon our arrival in Coker Creek we started looking for the Gem Mining place as the directions were a little confusing at first. We apparently took a wrong turn and drove almost 2 miles in the wrong direction. We finally turned around and stopped in at an art gallery and asked the lady inside where the gem mining place was and she informed us that it was back by the visitor center where we came into town at.

So off we went back to the visitor center. We found the Gem Mining place right there about 200 yards away from the visitor center/post office. There in front of the visitor center was an old timey stage coach. We went into the visitor center before heading over to the gem mining place. There were several items for purchase, so to leave our contribution we let the girls buy one pencil each which had animals on the end. One a deer and the other an owl.

After the visitor center we walked down to another craftsman's shop. This was a interesting shop, filled with novel knick knacks, art, and homemade handcrafted jewelry. The proprietor of the shop was an interesting gentlemen who informed us of some of the happenings of the town and a few other merchants. He made mention of the bee keeper on down the road, of which we made note to visit before we left Coker Creek, a visit as you will find out we regretted afterwards.

Finally, we headed over to the gem mining place, TN Gold. The proprietor of this place, Tim, I have to say was a very knowledgeable, and nice man. He helped identify most of the gems and stones we found. We purchased 5 bags of gem filled dirt to pan through for $20. Out to the flue we all went with screen boxes and our bags of dirt. We sifted and sifted and sifted until our hearts were content. We found several big gems in our dirt. Large pieces of quartz of different colors, and other various gems. When we were done, we bagged up our loot, and bought another bag of dirt a panning dish, and a little sucker tube. The bag of dirt is supposed to have some gold in it from Cokercreek. As it turns out, you can up the road a little bit from the gem mining place, provided you have your own equipment, and pan for gold in the creek on your own.

Upon leaving the gem mining place, we decided we would go and find the falls that the one craftsman had told us about. Well on our way we ran across the bee keepers place and decided to stop in for some honey. All I'm going to say is that after an hour later we finally got out of that place. We left that place knowing more than we cared to know about some psychic nut, I forget the name at the moment, from Virgina Beach, all the town gossip, what all the locals were up to, what type of theft was going on in the area, and a small bottle of blackberry honey.

After leaving, should I say running, from the bee keepers place we decided we would leave the Cokercreek area and head back towards the homeplace. It was a fun an interesting trip when all was said and done. If you ever have a hankerin' for gem mining or gold panning, I suggest a visit to Cokercreek.

And now for the good part, the part you've all been waiting for, the pictures:

The Old Timey Stage Coach

Dad and the Rugrats in front of the Old Timey stage coach

The Two Little Old Young Ladies

Rugrats outside TN Gold

Panning for Gems

Some of the Loot

Outside the Bee Keepers

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Proper Way to Walk a Fitness Trail

It was a beautiful day on Saturday and we had promised our side kick Clover a sniff at the park. This day we decided to head over to Norris Dam State Park and take her on the fitness trail. The fitness trail is on the West side of the park on the right when you get to the bottom of the hill prior to getting to the pool area. Here is the map. Anyway, the trail is about a mile long and along the trail there are about 15 exercise stations. The first 8 are the warm up exercises and then you are supposed to walk at least a half a mile and then do the cool down 8 exercises or so.

So this leads me to the proper way to walk the fitness trail. Prior to starting the trail, we sat down at one of the picnic benches and munched on some $5 cardboard pizzas from Little Caesars. Along with the pizzas we sipped on Diet Pepsi's. After our lunch, we began down the trail upon which we lit up our appropriate after meal cigarette. Along the trail, we stopped at each of the stations and did the exercises.

Upon finishing the last exercise, we started back out of the trail and appropriately lit up our after exercises cigarette. It was a nice day and the trail is a nice one. Just be warned, the start of the loop really get's your heart rate up as it's a 400 yard uphill walk. We have decided that this would also make for a good trail to run and possibly try to get dad out on maybe once a week.

Well that's all I've got for now. Until the next trail comes along,

Take care and enjoy the precious gems that the Earth has provided us.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Head Still ain't Frozen

This past week the weather has been very reminiscent of Fall in East Tennessee. With the weather being as pleasant as it has been, we decided get out of the doors and into the beautiful wild we call home. We had initially planned to head to Buffalo Mountain Park, but at the last minute we decided to head instead out to Frozen Head to take a short hike, let the kids play, and have a picnic lunch.

So with the plan in mind, we packed our lunch, a cooler, Fluzzy (that's the camera), and ourselves into the car and headed on our merry way out to Frozen Head State Park. Of course we had to make a slight detour across the street to Mom and Dad's house to make a couple special event contacts on the HF Ham Radio (More details on my Ham Radio Blog).

After our detour and the drive, we arrived at the park. Once everyone made their necessary pit stop we headed to the trail head and went about our leisurely way along the Interpretive Loop Trail. Along the way Robin pointed out interesting flora, fauna, insects, and other miscellaneous things to the girls. Meanwhile, our trusty sidekick Clover sniffed until her heart was content. There were several photo ops along the way, of which can be seen at the bottom of the post.

We made a couple of detours along the trail. One such detour was into the dried up creek bed to search for geodes, of which we found none. Rugrat, however, did find a salamander. Our second detour was unintentional. We crossed the first bridge at which there was a sign prior to crossing that pointed left to continue along the interpretative trail. I noticed the sign but didn't say anything. I really didn't have any excuse for not saying anything, other than I figured Robin knew where we were headed. She was just following the blazes on the trail and didn't notice the sign. It wasn't until we crested a nice incline that I figured I had better say anything before we headed up anymore major elevation gains. It was at this point that Robin wanted to know why I hadn't said anything before.

We made our way back down the trail to the bridge and righted our course and were once again along the way of the correct trail. We followed more of a creek bed crossed another wooden bridge, at which Robin decided it was time for some photos. If we had any good rains recently, I believe we would have been treated to a beautiful cascade or waterfall. However, we haven't had much rain this month so we had to imagine the waterfall instead.

After we finished the photos at this spot and various other spots we continue on down the trail. We came to a bench in which we sat to take a breather. Prior to resting our footsies, Rugrat two had spotted and captured a little frog. I ought to take a moment to explain that during the entire trip, we were awarding the rugrats small amounts of money for any and all wildlife spotted during our ventures. For the spotting and capture of the frog (of course the frog was released promptly and unharmed) we awarded rugrat two 10 cents for spotting and 50 cents for catching the little amphibian.

After a little over a mile or so, we emerged from the trail and headed to the picnic and playground area. We had sandwiches, chips, and cookies. After eating, we let the kids play on the playground and in the creek for a little bit. We finally decided it was time to head back to the homestead and over to mom and dad's to play a little radio. At the end of the adventure the final tally was rugrat 1 - .55 cents. Rugrat 2 - .72 cents. Of course I rounded both of their totals to .75 cents to which they were both pleased.

Anyway, take care all and enjoy the photos below and remember to leave no trace of your visit out of doors. Trash does kill.

As always,

Tim in the Wild

All Three Rugrats

Clover Sittin' Pretty

Robin in the Wild

Rugrats I and II

Rugrats on the Slide

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Have you seen the Moonbow?

I know it's been awhile.... but we've been so busy playing Ham Radio now that I've got my HAM ticket (that would be Ham Radio Operator's License for those not familiar with HAM Radio) and we've got upgraded all the way to Extra Class. We have been outdoors quite a bit with HAM Radio, however I don't believe it to be qualified for this blog. So if you are interested you can see our field day, antenna raising, and other HAM Radio photos and blog posts on my HAM Blog or Robin's HAM blog.

So yesterday after we went to the Hamfest in Waynesville, NC, we came home picked up our trusty side kick Clover and headed north with the intention of visiting Levi Jackson Wilderness RoadState Park in Kentucky. On our way we decided at the last second to head to Cumberland Falls State Park instead as we had not been there in quite some time (Since the rugrat was 4, which would be almost 8 years ago), and Clover has never been there. Cumberland Falls happens to be the only place in the Western Hemisphere to have a moonbow (a nighttime rainbow).

It was a hot day, and the place was pretty crowded now that it has become a resort park. We didn't stay very long as Robin was not feeling well. We did get a couple of shots however and you can have a look at them below.

Tim at Cumberland Falls

Clover at Cumberland Falls

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Second Sons of Rugby

Yesterday, wifey, kiddo, and I all played hookie. Not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but instead because we felt like it. Seeings how it was a beautiful day, we thought it would be a waste to stay home and wait for my dental appointment. So instead I called the dentist and played sick with them too only to reschedule my cleaning for next Monday.

After having played sick with anyone that mattered or could possibly have any negative effect on our hookie playing, we asked ourselves the question, you know the inevitable what do we do now question. Our answer was simple at first, we could head north towards Big South Fork, our usually refuge from society and life. We took it a step farther however when I walked in here to the computer room and wifey had a plan. Our newly planned destination was to tour the quaint little Victorian town of Rugby, Tennessee.

Rugby is a town that was founded in 1880 by Author/Lawyer/etc. Thomas Hughes. The ideal was a socialist society for the second sons of England and any other who wished to work hard and be considered equal with all. It was more a Utopian dream that was never quite realized due to the harsh demands of the Appalachian area. Consider this image, a town in the middle of nowhere that just doesn't belong and there you will find Rugby. Also consider the colonists that lived here for the majority were English second sons. Having not inherited the wealth of their families, instead only a small lump sum but still having a life of society like most British well to do Victorians of the age farming and other back breaking work wasn't in their nature. However, they had a dream and dreams are what drives all.

Rugby is situated on the Cumberland Plateau between Oneida and Wartburg. Several buildings still stand from the original settlement, and several have had to be rebuilt due to fires and other natural occurances. Still yet some building that do not exist are in the works to be rebuilt. Upon arrival at the visitor center you can arrange to take the tour in which you get to watch a 20+ minute movie on the history of Rugby and it's founders. You also are taken on a small tour to see one of the houses, the Episcopal Church that still stands and is used today, the library with it's original 7000+ volumes, and the old school house.

The building are all in the Victorian style and beautiful. They are of the Gothic style as well as the original buildings were all built by a Dutchman who settled in the colony. Today they are still developing houses in an area that was in the original plans for the town but never came to fruition. These too are built in the same style of the rest of the town.

After the tour, you are encouraged to go to the cafe where the prices are quite reasonable for a tourist town. I might add that they have the most delicious dish of English origin called the Welsh Rarebit. If you go I highly recommend it provided you are not lactose intolerant. After the cafe you can make a stop at the Commissary to pick up souvenirs and crafts from local artisans. Finally, be sure to visit the Cometary, and if you have the time take a hike down to the Gentleman's Swimmin' Hole, where the colonists were found on a regular basis during the hot summer days (see the post on the swimmin' hole for more details. After a few hours, it was time to travel back home only to return back to normal life and rejoin the rat race.

Pictures to be posted soon. Until then, take it one day at a time and take the time to realize that life is grand if you filter out everything that doesn't matter.


Monday, April 7, 2008

O&W... Ain't that a root beer?

It was a beautiful Spring day on March 21, and after making it through the rainy days and the weekly grind, we were itching to get outdoors. Kiddo's cousin had spent the night (most of the week really, having been their Spring Break and all) and had mentioned the last time she was over that she wanted to go on a hike with us sometime. We figured this would be a good opportunity for that to occur. We had really been thinking about hiking all week.

So the day came for the hike. We had decided the night before that we would drive up to the Big South Fork and hike the O&W Bridge trail and cookout some hotdogs upon the conclusion of the hike. With our plans made and packs packed, we all (Robin, Rugrat, Cos, Beene, and myself) loaded up into the car and headed out.

We arrived at the Leatherwood Ford area of BSF where we found a parking spot, got our packs on and headed down the trail. O&W is a 2.3 mile in and out trail to the bridge making it a total 4.6 mile round trip. It meanders alongside the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. It is also a part of the John Muir Trail in the Big South Fork. From the trail you can see all sorts of sights including big rapids in the river, all sorts of wildlife and vegetation, and some amazing geological structures. Upon starting the trail you see evidence of natures best lumberjacks. When asking the kids what might have fell the trees in this area, one reply was a lumber jack. Of course we laughed about that one and properly informed the kids that it was the work of beavers. As we continued hiking we noticed how much higher the river was compared to last year as we had been in bad drought conditions last year which made the river run very low indeed.

The trail provided some minor obstacles in the form of creek crossings. These weren't ordinary creek crossings either. Almost every crossing was set in the middle of a cutback on the trail in which you had to hop rocks to cross. I have to say, Beene and I have worked out the best plan to overcome these obstacles. Beene is our Border Collie mix, and she has got to be the best and smartest trail dog ever. Once everyone was across a creek, Beene and I would step up to the creek crossing and I would slacken her leash all the way. Upon command she would run to the other side upon which she would sit and wait with the others while I crossed. There were also some pretty step declines on the way back out as well to which I would let her go first and then I would start after her and stop half way down to stop her from pulling me down with her. Eventually, we got to the point where we would stand at the top of the decline are at a creek crossing, the rest of the group would head down or across and upon reaching the bottom or other side, I would release Beene from her leash and let her go to them. That was indeed the best approach of all.

Along the trail we spotted some flowering Yellow Trillium, some sandstone bluffs, a party of rafters and a duo of canoers upon the river. We also crossed paths with a handful of other hikers. At one point along the trail we spotted an animal standing in the trail. At first glance we were sure what it was. We then started to think it was a deer. Upon getting a bit closer we came to realize it was a dog running ahead of it's party. We called down the trail to the owners to let them know we were there and that we had a dog as well. At this point they leashed their dog and proceeded to pass us. We let the dogs sniff each other for a minute and exchanges some pleasent words with each other. At the end of the exchange the owner of the other dog must have gotten scared or thought that the dogs might begin to fight with each other. It was at this moment the women decided to dash off with her dog and immediately trip over the hound when it darted in front of her. I stood there shocked and concerned for her well being all the while trying to stifle a laugh that was building inside me. She got up and brushed herself off and assured me that she was okay and that it was regular for her and her friend to take falls on trails. It appears the only thing that might have been hurt was her pride. With that out of the way they went on down the trail as we continued back out.

Of course prior to this point we had reached our destination at the O&W bridge. This is a trestle bridge that was once used by the O&W (Oneida & Western) Railroad, which was used to run coal and timber from the area. The area here is absolutely beautiful. From the bridge you can really see the bluffs and gaze upon the rushing white water of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. We had stopped here for a breather and a snack. The kids decided to hunt rocks to which they tossed to the raging river below. I reckon this struck their fancy more than anything else that day. At this point you can head up to the Devil's Den which is a tough half mile hike up to a beautiful water fall. Considering that both kids were either just getting over or coming down with colds, we decided that this day we would forgo that side trip and head back out.

When we made it back out to the parking area, we found us a picnic table with a grill and treated ourselves to a well deserved hot dog lunch complete with chips, bananas, and potato salad. We were all relieved to kick our boots/shoes off and don our flip flops to let our feet receive much needed fresh air. Once our bellies were full, we packed up and headed back home.

As for other trail details, it is an easy to moderate trail. 4.6 mile out and back. The elevation gain is minimal unless you add the .5 miles for Devil's Den. Total time was approx. 3 hours which included the stop at the Bridge and water breaks in between. This a definite must hike and easy for the youngins. If you want something a little easier, there is the Angel Falls trail on the other side of the parking area.

And finally, what you've all been waiting for.... The shots of the day...


Thursday, March 27, 2008


It was February 9, 2008 and winter had beared down upon us for far too long in our opinions, we decided the pretty day would be the perfect opportunity to bring our daughter to see the trees. The trees I speak of are the enormous 200 - 400 year old untouched tulip poplars that stand in the old growth forest known to us around here as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, thus named after the poet, Joyce Kilmer, known for the work "Trees". Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is located in the Slick Rock Wilderness Area in Robbinsville, North Carolina, just off the Cherohala Skyway, and is part of the Nantahala National Forest.

The trail around the memorial forest is a easy 2 mile figure-eight loop trail that meanders through the forest and along the Little Santeetlah Creek. The four of us (Robin, Kiddo, and our trusty side kick Clover Beene) began the hike. The first half mile or so is very pretty with lots of vegetation and a few wooden steps along the way. You can just start to imagine the size of the trees on up in the forest at this point as you gaze at the one in the first half of the trail.

After the first half mile or so you come to the intersection of the two loops of the figure eight. Here lies a memorial to Joyce Kilmer. As we continued along the trail we really began to see the awesomeness of the tulip poplars in all their glory. At one point along the trail we all decided to see if we could wrap ourselves around one of the trees. We each took sides of the tree and stretched our arms as far as they could and just barely touch each others finger tips.

As the hike continued the trees got bigger and bigger. I believe the yougin' was rather impressed with the beauty that laid upon her eyes. Some trees we posed at pretending to try and climb with all our might. We came to a pair of trees that were close enough together so that we could climb up a couple feet between them with our backs on one and our feet on the other. We did so and took pictures of each other. Even Beene wanted in on this fun.

Before long we were back at the intersection and beginning the last section of the hike, which meanders through a thick growth of Rhododendron and eventually joins back alongside the creek. After a little bit we emerged from the trail pleased with the wondrous views. Once of the trail we made our calls to nature, found some sticks to use as wizard wands, which to this day kiddo stills likes to find sticks to play Harry Potter with.

If you have children, or love the outdoors and nature, we highly recommend this trail as it is relatively easy, and very beautiful indeed. Robin and I have now done the trail twice, but have yet to do it in any other season than the end of winter. We will definitely have to go back in the spring, summer, and fall to see the trees and their natural surroundings in the rest of their splendor.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Indian's and Their Boundries

It was the 13th of January and the winter season was still bearing down upon us. Nevertheless, our cabin fever was nearing critical limits and we were itching to get out of the house. So, after sitting down in front of the trusty computer for a short while to figure out what to do, we had a plan to battle the cabin fever. We decided we would set out to glimpse some wildlife of the avian kind and any other woodland creatures we might find. Our destination was a bird viewing motor loop.

Being as cold as it was, we decided it would be best not to attempt any major hikes, we set out in the car and headed south towards the Cherohala Skyway in the Cherokee National Forest to drive the Tellico Auto Loop for wildlife viewing.

It was a beautiful drive, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. A few points of interest along the loop included The Indian Boundary, and the river area campgrounds along one of the Forest Service roads. The country back here was beautiful indeed, especially off the beaten path along the service road where the woods are thick and the river runs wild.

We did see a handful of wild birds, but other than that we didn't see much else. Below are some of the captures of the day.

Be on the look out for for the upcoming posts: Joyce Kilmer (Any relation to Val?) and O&W Bridge, do they make rootbeer too?