Sunday, October 26, 2014

Spring Mill State Park

October 24th-26th, 2014
We arrived at Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell, Indiana around 8:00 p.m.  We set up camp in the dark, grilling swordfish steaks and veggies for a late dinner around the campfire.  We had hoped to catch the fall colors in southern Indiana, but the leaves had fallen leaving little to enjoy.  Some of the photos taken were from the previous weekend around Indianapolis.

Mitchell, Indiana is the birthplace of Astronaut Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom.  Gus was the second man in space when he flew Liberty Bell 7 July 21, 1961.  If you remember, the capsule hatch blew, the casule sank and the navy frogmen had to save Gus from drowning.  On March 23, 1965 Gus flew Gemini III name the "Molly Brown".  On January 27, 1967 while preparing for the Appolo 1 mission, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died when a flash fire started in a sealed capsule on the launch pad, while making a final test.

We also hike 5-6 miles round trip to the Spring Mill Inn for lunch.

Another great weekend, with great food, weather and time for my wife and I to enjoy the great outdoors at another Indiana State Park.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Saturday, October 4, 2014

We departed home around 5:15a.m. and made a quick stop at Starbuck's for human fuel and something to eat.  Travel time to Great Smoky Mountain National Park was approximately 6-1/2 hours.

We arrived at Sugarlands Visitor Center where I picked up my senior pass, maps, and gifts for the grand kids.  We arrived at our first campground, Cades Cove around 2:00 p.m. and set-up camp.

On Sunday we drove the Cades Cove Loop Road and visited the John Oliver Cabin, built in the early 1820's.
The next stop was the Primitive Baptist Church which was established in 1827 and in 1887 the church below was built.

The Carter Shield Cabin was built in 1910

On Monday we hiked to Laurel Falls, 2.5 mile round trip from the trail head.  We also moved to Smokemont  Campground in N.C. for the next 2 nights.  Our site was on the Bradley Fork of the Oconaluftee River, 10 feet from our site.

On Tuesday we visited Mingo Falls on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.  The round trip hike from the trail head was just under 1 mile.  The falls are 180' feet.

Mingis Mill
Mountain Farm Museum at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.  The John E. Davis house was built in 1899.  The house was constructed with "matched" chestnut logs.

We drove down to Cherokee, N.C. (The Cherokee Indian Reservation) and Bryson City North Carolina where we found a great BBQ restaurant.  We picked up supplies including some freshly caught rainbow trout to grill.

Newfound Gap.  The site of the Franklin Roosevelt's speech to dedicate the GSMNP.  This is the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

We made our second attempt to reach the top of Clingman's Dome, elevation 6,643 feet.  On Monday we drove up in the fog and could barley see the double yellow line.  On Wednesday the weather had cleared.  We found a parking spot and started the steep half mile hike up the mountain.  It was a little too much for my wife.  We got 2/3 of the way up and everyone coming down said it was drizzling and foggy with no view.  We turned around and headed down to the gift shop.  I wish that I had continued so I could have reached the peak and taken a photo of the elevation marker.  It will have to wait until the next trip.

We moved to our 3rd campground, Elkmont, on the Little River. On Wednesday night Doug Stewart paid a visit and we sat drinking some of North Carolina's finest micro beers with shrimp cocktail.  More beers turned into a dinner of salmon, hamburger and veggies cooked on the grill, with a bottle of wine.  A lasting friendship was born.  Stew wrote in our journal, the first of many WTW members we hope to meet on our journey.  And of course we gave Stew a quick tour of our Grandby, now named "Mountain Momma" by my wife.

On Thursday we moved out of the National Park and into Smoky Bear Campground.  This allowed us to spend a couple of days touring Gatlinburg.  Calhoun's had great BBQ and the Smoky Mountain Brewery was visited twice, and on Thursday night for beer, pizza and the Colts vs Houston Texans game.  The beer was awesome.  We would return on Friday for more great food and beer.

This was the view from the Tram we road to the top of the mountain on Thursday.

On Friday we took the chairlift to the top of the mountain