A rest stop on the Blueridge Parkway
A rest stop for us on the climb to Clingman's Dome
The trees that are dying
We decided to take a drive down the road to the Smokey Mountain National Park. According to Mapquest it would take about 2-hours. Well, after driving down the lovely Blue Ridge Parkway (which my poor sister Karen was close to hurling more than once from the curvy road), a sidetrack to the west of Ashville, through the Cherokee Reservation and finally into the park it was 1:30 in the afternoon. We left about 9.
So we had to make the best of our time in the park. So we found a lovely set of picnic tables where we dined on the best peanut butter and for those who partake in the jelly sandwiches. We planned our attack. We would make our way towards Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the park. According to the parks literature we picked up, we would make a "steep" 1/2-mile walk to an observation tower where we could see 360 views of the surrounding mountains.
Wow, steep was being kind. I told Laszlo that it was the longest 1/2-mile walk I've ever done. Comments from the group on the way up:
I surrender! I'm a flat lander. - Laura
Oh my God, we're not even half way there. - Sarah
If the woman with the walking cast can do this, I better be able to. -Laura
I don't want to walk back down, it's too hard. - Karen
What was really sad was all the dead and dying trees. How sobering. The majority of the ferns growing on the mountains are being killed by insects "accidentally" brought from Europe. And the trees not dying from that are being finished off by the acid rain. And to read that the view is obscured 80 percent in the Summer from pollution was scary. And all of this happened within 100 years.
So we left the park in search of gas and a quicker way home. We went north through Gatlinberg and around the park on a quick moving highway. We got home at 10. We cut off more than and hour off our time. Thank goodness for the 16-bean soup waiting for us in the crock pot. All we wanted to do was eat a little and fall into bed.
Today the gents are off playing a round of golf and the ladies are sitting around the house relaxing. Which we are fine with. We think we might venture down to town later, with hopes that the gentleman on the way back up can pick us up.
No matter what though, vacation is good for the mind and the soul. I can get used to this. Although I'm happy NOT to be in the car right now.