Monday, August 26, 2013

Great Smoky Mountains, Part 3: Rainbow Trout and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

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On our last full day in Tennessee, Jarrod spent a couple hours fishing while I read on the riverbank.
 
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He caught two rainbow trout, one of which became that night's dinner. I don't eat fish, so Jarrod had one to bring back home.
 
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Later that afternoon we drove Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a beautiful one-way mountain drive through the woods and along the river. There are innumerable small waterfalls and scenic spots, but it's really hard to good water pictures with the filtered light of the deep forest.
 
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Roaring Fork boasts lots of historic structures, like this cabin, home of Ephraim and Minerva Bales and their nine children.
 
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We stopped to fish in this scenic spot. I called it "The Enchanted Forest."
 
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Jarrod caught another rainbow trout and Conan was mighty curious about his first live fish.
 
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This cottage was my favorite historic structure of the whole trip because of its wild paint scheme of white, sunshine yellow and sky blue. Apparently Alfred Reagan and his wife used "all three colors that Sears and Roebuck had" to paint their home.
 
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Toward the end of the Roaring Fork drive is this neat little waterfall called the Place of a Thousand Drips. As soon as you exit the national park, there are a few hotels and businesses. We stopped at a place called Ely's Mill and bought a jar of honey. The bees were kept just out back, so we knew the honey was fresh!
 
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Before heading out the next morning, we took Conan on the Gatlinburg Trail, one of only two trails where dogs are allowed in the national park.
 
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It was a bit humid, but we all had a great time -- and best of all, Conan was pooped for the 5-hour drive home.
 
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Great Smoky Mountains, Part 2: Laurel Falls, Clingman's Dome and a Bear Who Likes Donuts

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On the fourth day of our getaway, we hiked to Laurel Falls. This is probably the most popular trail in the national park because it's paved and pretty easy. While the waterfall at the end was gorgeous, we did not enjoy the crowds!
 
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We saw more colorful fungi along the trail.
 
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At Laurel Falls! We actually managed to take our picture without any other people in the way, which was quite a feat.
 
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That night we were awakened about 2 a.m. to the sounds of a black bear trying to make off the with cabin's outside trash bin. It was chained closed, but he still managed to paw almost everything out and roll it down the wooded hill in front of the cabin. We watched him from the porch for a few minutes, then made some noise to scare him off. It was so amazing to be just feet away from a black bear -- I just wish it had been daytime so we could have gotten a picture. (P.S. Apparently bears like Krispy Kremes!)
 
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We took it easy the next morning (it was hard to get back to sleep after the excitement of our bear encounter!), then went to the Apple Barn for an after-lunch treat: cold apple cider, apple stack cake for Jarrod and an apple dumpling for me. After our sugary sustenance, we drove the Arts and Crafts Loop and bought a few cool handmade items.
 
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On day 6, we planned to hike to Clingman's Dome, which is purported to have some of the best views in the park. We wouldn't know, because it was super foggy.
 
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We actually did do the half-mile-ish (rather steep, huff-and-puff-inducing!) hike up to the Clingman's Dome observation tower, and were greeted with this stunning view! We'll definitely have to try again next time we visit the park, because those views do look amazing.
 
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Here's the iconic observation tower.
 
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The Clingman's Dome hike is connected to the Appalachian Trail. Maybe someday we'll hike it. Jarrod doesn't think I could hack it... so of course I want to prove him wrong! (Although I will make him read Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" first so he knows what we're getting into!)
 
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"Why did the fog cross the road?"
 
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Since the weather was so crummy after our Clingman's Dome hike, we decided to drive over to Cherokee, North Carolina, on the eastern edge of the national park. On the Indian reservation is a short path to stunning Mingo Falls. This was our favorite waterfall from our trip!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Etsy Wish List: August

I'm excited that September is almost upon us, and with it the start of the fall season, but wow -- where did August go? I was so busy this month that I hardly spent any time at all browsing Etsy. I still have a couple neat finds to share, though:

Etsy shop: thewheatfield
Price: $18 for an 8x10
I already own one print from this shop and I love it. This -- or one of the other gazillion gorgeous prints -- would be a perfect companion for it! It would hang in our master bathroom, and I think this is a perfect saying to encounter when getting out of the shower every morning.

Etsy shop: SHOPHOOPLA
Price: $89
This is the coolest thing ever! This artist with hand-embroider a custom portrait of your pet!

Etsy shop: bullseyebeads
Price: $26
These acorn necklaces -- with a handmade glass bead and real acorn top -- would be a great accessory for fall!


Etsy shop: ArtKvarta
Price: $24
These stained glass earrings are so pretty!


Etsy shop: SimpleSerene
Price: $15 for an 8x10
Can't go wrong with a Dumbledore quote!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Furry Friday: Rivers and Mountain Air

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This is my favorite family picture from our trip to the Smoky Mountains -- mostly because we all look decent and our faces aren't horribly shadowed.

Everyone says they love Conan's expression in this shot, but I'll let you in on a secret. He only has that adorable head-cocked-to-the-side look because he absolutely detests having his picture taken, so the photographer (in this case a random, kind stranger) has to say his name and make funny noises to get him to look toward the camera. What a goof!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

I've been pretty inconsistent with my What I Wore Wednesday participation the past couple months, but I really wanted to show off my gorgeous new necklace from my favorite Etsy jewelry shop, Palomaria. I have two of her necklaces and they're both so pretty! They're made of cold porcelain and surprisingly light-weight.
 
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 Top: Old Navy
Shorts: American Eagle
Sandals: Kohl's"
Necklace: Palomaria on Etsy
 
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Here's a close-up of my latest purchase.

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And here's a look at the first necklace I ordered from the shop.
 
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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Great Smoky Mountains, Part 1: Porter's Creek Hike and Cades Cove

What is the best vacation you've ever taken? We've gotten to do some pretty cool things on our Hawaiian vacations the past few years, but our trip to Smoky Mountains National Park might have just topped them all. Not only was the scenery absolutely stunning and magical, but it was super-relaxing -- and best of all, we got to bring Conan! If you're taking a trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and want to bring your pet, we'd highly recommend renting The Chocolate Moose cabin!
 
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We stopped in Corbin, Kentucky, for dinner on our way from Ohio to Tennessee. We ate at Sonny's Barbeque (where the drive-thru guy gave Conan four free ribs just for being handsome!) but we couldn't resist checking out the first KFC.
 
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 The first day of our vacation, the three of us piled into the car and drove around the national park. We packed a picnic lunch and ate by the river.
 
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 Conan got to further his education at historic Little Greenbrier School.
 
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Conan and Daddy adventuring.
 
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 A view of Gatlinburg. You can't help but think the view would be somewhat enhanced without all those shops and hotels!
 
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 Heading to Greenbrier, to do the Porter's Creek hike. I love this picture... and even though there's no fork in the road and this path is fairly well traveled, it reminds me of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken."
 
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 The trail followed the river most of the way.
 
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 We saw all kinds of strange and lovely fungi...
 
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 ...and lots of these tie-dye leaves! I pressed several in the library book I brought along.
 
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 The Porter's Creek hike ends at this nice little waterfall, Fern Branch Falls. It also took us past a barn from the late 1800s, a 1930s cabin and an old cemetery.
 
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 On the third day, we drove Cades Cove. We stopped at this pretty little waterfall just off the road on the way there. And, of course, all the other people there oohed and ahhed at our adorable boy!
 
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 There are several historic structures in Cades Cove.
 
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 And lots of stunning scenery.
 
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 After our Cades Cove trip, Jarrod threw his line in the river while Conan and I lounged on the bank. He didn't catch anything that time, but he did hook five rainbow trout throughout the trip.
 
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 Everything is so green and moss-covered and enchanting. This tree looked like a perfect home for a fairy or a gnome.
 
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 Apparently summer in the Smokies is the time to see a gazillion butterflies. They were everywhere!
 
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