Friday, June 29, 2012

Noticed I’m getting a little testy here

With temps topping out around 107* today, I wasn’t very interested in doing much of anything.  My patience wears very thin when it’s that hot.  The AC machine is as stressed as I feel, as it could only keep things down to 87 most of the day.  It was still 101 when I took a dip in the pool this evening around 7:45.  That settled me down quite a bit.
I guess it’s a good thing that I can talk about yesterday afternoon’s trip, as I don’t want to talk about today. 
When I finished the post last night, Emma and I were enjoying our lunch at a nice picnic area.  My plan was to take the Balsam Mountain Road on a loop around the southeastern part of the National Park.  I was not aware that this was an unpaved road once you left the picnic area.  As we took a little walk down the road, I was skeptical as to whether or not my little Ford Focus was up to this challenge.  I think it was a 28 mile drive to the town of Cherokee, and my guide said it would take an hour.  It looked pretty lumpy to me, and I had observed quite a few folks turning into the drive, but then backing out.
As I read further into the auto touring guide that I had purchased, it said that the road was maintained for passenger cars in the summer, so I thought, “What the heck.  I’ll give it a try.”  I’m glad I did, but I wished I had been driving a jeep or truck to be honest about it.  It was mainly a downhill drive in the deep forest of the park, so there were very few opportunities to find scenic views of the Smokies.
67 On the way to NC 201247
It was too late to observe all the spring wildflowers, but I did find enough blooms along the slow going road to keep me interested.  I’m not sure how anyone could drive this road in an hour.  Granted that I stopped for pictures, but it took me almost three hours to do it.
There were some places where I could pull over, and I took those opportunities to walk Emma up and down the road.  This certainly was a road less traveled that I had chosen.  I imagine it is much busier on a weekend, but I thought it was wonderful on a Thursday afternoon. 
67 On the way to NC 201248
On the second half of the drive, we followed along a nice creek bed.  The roadway was a lot smoother along this section, and I rolled down my window to enjoy the sound of the rushing water.  It was pretty warm, but at least it wasn’t in triple digits.
I didn’t see any wild life until I rounded a bend and found this ruffed grouse about to cross the road.  I’ve seen a lot of ruffed grouse in my time, but they’re usually only fleeting glances as the birds explode out of the dense forest in a flurry of wings.  I had a full couple of minutes to enjoy the gorgeous plumage of this bird before it casually strolled back into the forest.  What a treat.
As I finished the drive on Balsam Mountain Road, I ended up at the back end of the Cherokee Trout Fish Hatchery with no idea which way to turn.  I chose to turn right, which was a mistake.  I eventually turned around here, and took a picture of this sign to show what Dave Watty Rd looks like printed in the Cherokee language. 
Being rather lost, I decided to plug in Jack-in-the-Box so he could direct me home.  Nice idea, but it took forever to gather the satellite  signal because of the mountains and dense forest on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.  Uf-dah!  It eventually directed me down a road with multiple speed bumps.  This can’t be right.  I hailed an elderly couple riding in a golf cart and told them I was lost. 
With their help, I was able to drive seven more miles to the town of Cherokee, leave the reservation, and eventually make my way home through the driving nightmare of Pigeon Forge.  It had been a long but exciting day of travel for both Emma and I.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy