Monday, June 15, 2009


Hanging tight in P.F. due to wx forecast of severe thunderstorms. Yesterday drove up and over the Great Smoky Mountains to Cherokee, N.C. What a depressing reservation (and I've been on quite a few). The people are wonderful, though and are a handsome mix of Amerind and Eurowasps. Fell in love with a half dozen maidens working in the shops. None even glanced my way (pout). They sure liked my wife and her c.c. - she added to their coffers with the purchase of an Airstream-shaped birdhouse while I went off on a musical bent with a Cherokee traditional flute from the Wolf clan and an ocarina from Peru (don't ask).

If ever you get over that way, take a moment to stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the Cherokee side of the park. It was built by the CCC - the Civilian Conservation Corps - in 1941 and is trimmed out inside with stained American Chestnut. Oh my, what a wonderful wood and such a shame to have lost it all to blight. Also check out the working grist mill up the road - Mingus' Mill - and the Mountain Farm Museum next to the visitor center.

We plan on leaving tomorrow. Taking today to relax and regroup.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shanghaied by Christians!

Bloody awful hot on Friday. Only made 300 miles or so. Made the mistake of getting off the highway at Pigeon Ford, Tennessee. That's right, home to Dollywood and about 1000 outlet stores, theaters, restaurants and other tourist traps. The main strip puts me in mind of Myrtle Beach, NC. All that is missing are the honky-tonks and strip joints. Pigeon Ford is all about family fun.

Anyway, pulled in to the River Bend Campground after deciding that two previous facilities looked at were a bit too religious, what with Jesus in flashing lights on the office rooves. It was what seemed like a reasonable hour -- 8 o'clock. Darned if the office wasn't closed up tight (turns out we'd crossed a timezone line and didn't know it - it was late, after all). Finally a tall skinny fellow gets out of his motorhome next to the pavilion and introduces himself as "Pastor Ron". Bloody Jesus-folks snuck one by me, dang-it-all! He helped get us signed in, but only after extracting a promise from my wife that we would attend the Saturday night gospel singing! If you hear of a pavilion collapsing on a bunch of gospel singing folk, you'll know why.

We'll be here a few days to play then onwards towards the soggy Northeast.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're off!

Lots of false starts and failed attempts later, but we have departed for points North. Hard slog in 95° heat and high humidity. Put some miles on, despite a lateish departure time. Saw one bad accident (fatalities, I think) involving a 15 passenger van, a pick-up and a couple of cars. Somehow, two more cars and an 18 wheeler got tied up trying to avoid the mess.

Arrived at the Good Sam Campground - Birmingham South (in Pelham, AL) just at dark. I think I described it as a "rabbit warren" in an email to family. Lots about 25' by 60', small concrete pad with picnic table, hook-ups. No shade to be had. All for the low, low price of $37 a night with our club discount. Now, to be fair, they have significant overhead, pool, restrooms, mowing, etc. Still, even with lots of headaches and high taxes, it is a money maker, for sure.

Heading further north today . Haven't decided whether we're going up the east side or the west side of the Appalachian Mountains. Have to wait to see how the better half is feeling. She has developed a sore throat and laryngitis. All that money spent for cell phones and now she can't talk.

And So It Goes...