Tag Archives: Wayah Bald

Life After Christmas

5 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I am emerging from my Christmas fog. It began in mid December when I succumbed to a sinus infection. Since I am rarely sick, I spent quite a bit of time in denial. That might have been a contributing factor for the fog. Suddenly, it was Christmas, then Christmas eve. I do remember that we had a lovely Christmas morning with our children and grand children, then the fog descended once more.  I emerged again to celebrate our daughter’s birthday with a drive to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The trip had been planned for several weeks but after the fires roared through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and down into Gatlinburg, it took on a poignant mood. We drove through one of the hardest hit areas, Chalet Village, and the devastation was heartbreaking. Out of respect for the owners and those who had lost loved ones, we did not take pictures.  If you would like to volunteer your time to help the hurting families, visit Volunteer East Tennessee

We ended our day in Pigeon Forge at The Island. The two big restaurants are The Timberline Grill and Paula Deen and there is an assortment of shops as well as an area with a carnival atmosphere including one of the new Eye rides. It is very pretty at night.

The Island

Two days later we drove to one of our favorite places in Franklin, Wayah Bald. Wayah was one of many National Park areas that were targeted for arson during November and December and we were anxious to see how the park fared. We knew that the roof on the fire tower had burned, but we were unprepared for the extent of the damage to the Flame Azalea plants as well as the smaller trees that lined the path. It was also odd to see green foliage next to burned tree trunks.

 I do clearly remember New Year’s Eve. We spent the evening with at least fifty talkative cousins, aunts and uncles. I love them so much! I have high hopes the fog is gone!

Snow is predicted for tomorrow night. We haven’t had snow yet this winter so I am excited and I have the required milk and bread! Hopefully I will have some pictures and a story  to share next week.

If you are in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm. If you are in Florida, you might want to pull out that sweater you seldom have the chance to wear.

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Crazy Hot Weather

7 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

The weather here in our area has been crazy hot.  Fortunately, here in the North Carolina mountains, one can escape the worst of the heat by heading to the higher elevations. Our daughter, Rebekah, has been visiting the last week and we have revisited some of our favorite cool spots. Our first escape was to Wayah Bald and the fire tower. It’s elevation is around a mile high and a nice breeze was stirring the air. I didn’t take a picture from the fire tower as we have a lot of those, but now I regret not snapping a fresh one. We did picnic at one of the concrete picnic tables tucked into the woods.

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We had planned a 4th of July picnic at another favorite, Standing Indian Campground, but we didn’t get motivated to get moving so I declared it a PJ day.  A good time was had by all. : )

The following day began with rain, but we decided to proceed with our planned visit to Standing Indian. In the mountains, it can be raining on one mountain and dry as a bone on the other. We did run into some scattered showers, but not enough to ruin our day. At 3,880 feet, Standing Indian doesn’t have the elevation of Wayah Bald, but the rain had left a cool breeze so we were quite comfortable. In fact, we had to don our lightweight jackets for a time. At Wayah, we took sandwiches but since we knew Standing Indian had a spacious pavilion, we decided to grill hot dogs. We have a battered Volcano Grill and love it. It folds up nicely and runs on your choice of three types of fuel.

On Wednesday we made a new discovery, Mud Creek Falls,  an easily accessible waterfall in Sky Valley, Georgia. We learned of it from friends but had not yet made the trip to see it. Since Rebekah was up here visiting and writing, it seemed like a good time to explore. We made a couple of wrong turns but once we found it, we realized it was very easy to get to. The falls are perfect for folks who can’t walk far,as you can view them from your car. There are also three picnic tables where you can enjoy a meal to the music of the water. Since we had breakfast out, we didn’t pack a lunch.

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On the way home, we stopped by Georgia’s Black Rock Mountain State Park. At a previous visit the ranger had told us to return at the end of June for a spectacular Rhododendron display. We must have been too late, but it was still fun to drive through the park and stop off at some overlooks.

One thing we saw at a couple of the parks was the awesome kindness of leaving a walking stick that was picked up along the way, next to a trail marker or collection box for someone else to use.

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The temps have cooled down and it’s not so crazy hot. Rebekah is working on her seventh novel while she is visiting. She has decided that five hours of “exploring” and five hours of writing is the perfect combination. I have read the first half of her new novel, which is a sequel to Jessie and I can’t wait for her to finish it.

While we were at Mud Creek Falls, my husband pointed out an incredible tree, whose roots were laced into a large boulder. Immediately these words flowed into my heart, what are you rooted into, are you rooted into me, the solid rock?  It looks like the dirt has been washed away from the roots but the tree is firmly planted on the solid rock.

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