Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Great Smoky Vacation

I am back from a pretty restful vacation...and they aren't always that way, are they?   We didn't try to be busy all the time, so we got "in the cabin" down time!  I did some Woolie sewing and watched TV...a big perk for me since we don't have a TV.  And I got to sleep in a bed without fur on it!  Ahhh.
The drive down was mostly interstate, but when we got close, this is what the GPS (her name is Rosie Mae) looked like:

 No other roads...just one road into the mountains...well, that's what it seemed like for a long time.  After we got to our cabin and unloaded, Stevie and Amy decide to go back out to the grocery store.  I stayed to cut up the veggies for dinner.  As I looked out the front window, I saw a big old dog...or, no, a BEAR!  The picture isn't very good because I was running to get the camera and running to get the picture and hoping the deck out back was really high as I ran out on it to take this picture...
Score!  Bear sighting on the first day!

The next day we went to Dollywood.  It is a wonderful park that wasn't a bit crowded and almost all of the people who work there are older and so friendly! 
And we had our second bear sightning.

And a kitty and a dragon and an ostrich and loads of lovely horses.

 The next day we drove into the mountains to take an "easy, level hike for any hiker..."   Look at those beauties!  Great and Smoky...

Even though the tour guide book promised easy and level...I was dripping sweat off of my fingertips before the end of the 1.3 mile continuously inclined hike up to the waterfall.  I tried to keep going, but I had to stop every once in a while to take a photo, right?  pant pant huff huff
Look at that tree growing in that rock.  The determination of those plants you see growing in the most unlikely and inhospitable places always amazes and encourages me.

As does their determination to reach the sun.  This tree was hanging out from the edge of the walking path with a nearly 90 degree bend out there - always toward the sun...and see the little plants growing in the cleft?  Amazing.
Yeah.  Take your time taking this, really, I will just stand here...
The next three were taken by hanging the ever popular and versatile PaS camera out the car window as we were driving...I wasn't doing the driving!



Enough green for you?  It was everywhere...and so hard to get a picture with a view.  All those dang trees were always getting in the way.   The last morning we were there, Stevie and I were determined to get a few good shots, so we got up early for the sunrise and walked across the road and down the hill a couple of cabins to see what we could, there's a view!  (the wires are for the cable car that runs from the valley to the top, almost directly over our cabin.)
And there it is again, complete with the smokieness.

 We were basking in the glory of the awakening morning when Stevie says, "Oh, look, it's a bear."  There he was below the deck we were standing on.  Score!  Snap a couple of photos.
Aw.  Look, he's sitting down for a photo.  Cute.
 Whoa!  Look!  The sun is all the way up.
 Hey.  The bear is up, too...and uh, is he walking this way?  Up the hill, around the house with the deck that we are um, standing on?  And not looking quite as cute????

 Um. So, yeah.  That is the bear standing in front of the house (and deck) where we were just moments ago taking vacation photos to share with friends like you.(What I don't do for you people!)  As he was coming up the hill, we were deciding we didn't want to be trapped on the deck with only a tiny metal table, our cameras and our wits to defend ourselves with.  So, we decided to make a run for it....see, the wits would have been no help to us at all.  Oh, and then, while we were running - up hill, early in the morning, in Birkenstocks-stopping to take the photo!  Hey.  I needed a breather anyway.  Bear started moving again and so did I.  Here's something that I have come to realize recently...well, OK, I've known I was overweight for awhile, but now I have a couple of good reasons to start taking those pounds off.  My little husband and I went to see the movie, Cowboys and Aliens last week and when we came out I told him I had to get skinnier so he could be my hero and carry me to safety.  At this weight we would have both died in the desert.  Oh, and running from a bear...I was going to be more than a tasty snack if I had to run many more steps than I did!  Just sayin'.  Everyone needs some motivators!
OK.  Back to the bear story.
Now, I am standing on the front porch of our cabin with a door knob within reach.   This is exactly where I saw the bear on the first night we were there.

And again I ran through the cabin to our back deck which is plenty high,  with no access from the outside.  See?  All safe...even after doing so many things wrong!  We decided that he probably wasn't looking for us for a meal, but wanted us to get out of the way of his morning forage around the cabins...right?
 And this last one is to show that there is no place like home.  My mountains and vistas are just as amazing to me each and every time I see them.

Tomorrow I will show you house progress.
I am trying not to think too much about not going to school tomorrow for the first time in, oh, 50 years!  I did get to go in today and help one of the teachers new to my old school set up her room.  Thanks, Tina for letting me be a part of it all one more time.


Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Oh, Donna!! Those photos are breathtaking! And, scary of the bear!! You tell a great story of that adventure! LOL! I love the Smokies. They are magical. But, I'm with you... coming home is always the best and I can so see why you love your nest. blessings ~ tanna
ps~ just think of all the fun things you are going to find more time to do. ;) {hugs}

Donna said...

Tanna, today my friend and I are going to go and celebrate with a few other of our recently retired friends...on a boat on a lake...not a bad way to start my first year of retirement!

no spring chicken said...

What a vacation! I am in awe. A bear! And not just a bear, but a bear everywhere... I'm glad you made it home alive. :)

Blessings, Debbie

Anonymous said...

Hello Donna! Wow, that was a special experience meeting the bear! I like to follow your building and would like to see how your sweet dog is doing!
xxx Teje

K said...

So I write as a voice from the grave. Wedding stuff. I have stories to tell, but I can't get quiet enough or alone enough or through enough with the tasks of showers and luncheons and whatever to do anything. Not even to read. But I read this. And loved it. And am thinking I spend half my life running away from bears - bears that are very real, but just shambling along -

You've spent today not teaching. Chaz and her buddy Chelsea both start their teacher meetings this week. Tomorrow, in fact. But you get to drive out to a hill top and make something that will stand for decades (assuming no tornados come along) and breath the air and stand under the sun - with no schedule but your own. This is a miracle. Not often repeated in the history of the world =

Glad you went. Glad you shot (woo-h00, the pictures - and of smokey but not on fire mountains). Glad you're home. I'' show you the merry-go-round shots I took at Disney. Soon. Maybe. Maybe I'll just hide in a closet and they won't find me -

Donna said...

Kristen, I have been thinking of you and thinking of you! Praying peace and joy and the strength to get through tender moments. I have really been wishing I could be there to give you a hug and just be your go-fer or guard the closet where you are hiding or whatever.
Today was fine...
Although I did wonder how I was going to fill the "make a difference" void. It will become clear...

W-S Wanderings said...

Aaaand, since I'm so darned late getting here - I hope the "make a difference" void is, um, gone. Or there is greater clarity. And I'm tired, and haven't anything intelligent to say.

But you, YOU are darned funny. The bear is not. We saw a cub amble through our fields this spring, no mama in sight. Have been VERY vigilant of the littles ever since. And, and, I can't believe you had SO MANY bear encounters.

Donna said...

WSW-not sure about the "making a difference" void just now...currently thinking that I may need a little time to just make a difference to me. That's Ok, right?
And, will be perfectly OK with no bear encounters for a very long time...but, a bear did take out my husband's bee hive at La Ti Da this spring...2 days in a row! Hmmmm.
Rest up. Are your kids back in school or do you homeschool?