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