Tag Archives: Clingmans Dome

Life During Covid-19 Part 18

30 Jul

He leads me beside still waters.

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

We finally made it to our home in Western North Carolina last Wednesday. It was a struggle to escape the clutch of doctors who feel entitled to dictate our life with endless rechecks.

The struggle is totally worth it. Saturday morning I settled into my comfy teak lounger on my porch, contentment oozing from my soul. I wrote this:

I declared today a day of reading and refreshment.  74 degrees on the porch. Birds chirping and cheeping and a good romance, mystery book by Colleen Coble on my tablet.  Mike tinkering in the garage. Thunder sounding beyond the mountains, possibly heralding an afternoon shower. A gentle breeze creates joyful melodies on the wind chimes Mike made.

After two days of unpacking and restocking the kitchen, we decided a day trip was in order. I packed a light picnic lunch of meat and cheese and we headed for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. With all the Covid closures, I wasn’t sure if the visitor center (restrooms) would be open and that can be a problem. I was relieved to see the car park was a hive of activity.

The park was busy but not at the usual summer level and we took advantage of empty parking spots to stop and enjoy old favorites. When our children were young they enjoyed playing in this stream. One day an “older”(like maybe she was 40) woman was walking across some rocks and she fell into the water. The stream and bridge has evermore been named, Woman Falling In Water.

US Highway 441, a winding, two land road runs through the park without a lot of opportunities to pass. We were driving behind an SUV that was struggling to pull a sizable RV trailer. Their speed varied from 25-35 miles per hour. The RV had a Florida license plate and we were reminded of our first time hauling our pop-up camper along the same road. Young and inexperienced at mountain driving, I’m sure we crept along too. As we patiently followed the RV up the mountain, we reminisced and laughed at our youthful confidence.

If we followed US 441 all the way through the park, we would have ended up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee but we had decided to only go as far as Newfound Gap.

North Carolina is a mandatory mask state, Tennessee is not. This park straddles the state lines and the restrooms are on the Tennessee side! Mast freedom! I wore a mask anyway. It’s nice to have the choice.

Our family made many memories here. Lingering snow thrilled our Florida hearts and frost laden trees, a winter wonderland left us awe struck. It’s a place where children could run off some energy, exploring the woods behind a monument or as the Appalachian Trail runs through there, you might encounter a Through Hiker.

The elevation of 5,040 feet offers an ever changing vista of the the surrounding mountains.

The National park has a webcam here and I treat myself to a visit as part of my morning quiet time. It snaps a photo every 15 minutes. I thought it would be fun to be “captured” in a photo, an “I was there” kind of moment. I told my daughter in Florida of our plan and she monitored the webcam. I was thrilled when she texted the picture to me. Silly, yes but fun.

We are in the far right circle

We decided to take the short drive to Clingman’s Dome.

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi.

We were surprised at the amount of cars trying to get into the parking lot and decided to not take up a parking space as we could come back anytime. Families were everywhere, even picnicking in their parking space. I am thinking that caused the slow down, but I am also happy to see families enjoying being together in nature.

My husband suggested I hop out of the car to get some pictures while he drove the circle of the parking area. Clouds were moving in so not much of a view, but it was only 69 degrees. Lovely.

By now, we were hungry! We headed back down the mountain to a large picnic area. Normally in the summer this popular picnic area is crowded but this was not the case. I speculated that the crowd at Clingman’s Dome, may have been first time visitors, not familiar with all the park had to offer. We finished our lunch just as a light rain began.

Several years ago, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park began to reintroduce Elk to the park and they can often be seen in late afternoon near the visitor center. This day they were out early, maybe because of the rain and many were next to the road. We pulled over to snap some pictures.

We made it back home around 3:30 pm. In time for my husband to get in a nap. Covid is taking a sub conscience toll on us. We aren’t afraid but we are weary, especially me. Nature soothes me and brings to mind Psalm 23:2-3

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

I'm a winnerAfter my retirement, I decided to re-learn the canning and preserving skills I learned from my mother but hadn’t practiced for twenty years. I titled the blog Old Things R New to chronicle my experience.  Since then I have been blessed to have six other bloggers join me, DiVoran Lites, Bill Lites,  Judy Wills, Louise Gibson, Janet Perez Eckles and Melody Hendrix

In addition to blogging, I work as the publicist/marketer/ amateur editor and general  “mom Friday” for my author daughter, Rebekah Lyn. I also manage her website, Rebekah Lyn Books  where we frequently host the best in up and coming authors.

My 2019 goal is to use my love of photographs and words to be an encourager on social media. You can visit Real Life Books and Media You Tube Channel if you would like to view some of the mini-videos I have created for our church, Gateway Community in Titusville, Fl.

Snow!

9 Nov

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Friday my husband, our daughter and myself drove from Florida to the mountains of North Carolina. I read on Facebook that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had a large snowfall during Hurricane Sandy and I couldn’t wait to check it out. The highest point in the park is Clingman’s dome and the road up to it is closed during the winter beginning December first, so this would be a rare opportunity to visit it covered in snow.

Saturday we picked up our two grandchildren and loaded the car up with an assortment of jackets, plastic sleds and picnic supplies. When we arrived at Clingman’s Dome the parking lot was jam-packed. Jumping out of the car we were hit by a cold wind and hurriedly pulled on jackets, scarves, hats and gloves. It was at least twenty degrees colder up there! Due to the ice and our fear for our old bones we didn’t make it to the top but the grandkids still had a blast.

Next we drove to Newfound Gap and had an unconventional picnic before moving on to the area we affectionately call “sled hill”. The children are sledding pros and quickly owned the hill. Rebekah took several rides down the hill as well. As for me, I did take one ride and loved it, but bowed to prudence and gave up my sled.

Seeing our grandchildren having fun was worth the trip but something else made it really special. We ended up having two sleds not in use. As families came to watch we offered the use of them. Some families accepted, some didn’t. One little guy was with his grandpa and had been begging to go sledding. He was quite brave and bold as he came down the hill laughing. Best of all was a group of young men in their twenties. From their appearance and accent, I think they may have been from India. I got the impression they might be seeing snow for the first time. They tentatively picked up some snow, rolled it around in their hands and made a snowball. Watching them, I noticed how their eyes followed the sledders. I decided to be bold and ask them if they would like to sled. It was interesting to see their internal struggle, should they or should they not. For a second or two I was afraid my offer may have offended their sense of dignity, then decided what the heck. I offered again in a teasing voice, “come on, you know you want to try it, just do it”. Their eyes dashed from one to another until one of the more mature appearing men stepped forward and held out his hand. What fun they had! They all took turns.

During the time we were there we shared the sleds with children, adults and differing races and nationalities. It was one of those rare perfect days. I wish it could have lasted all week.

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