Posts Tagged ‘tennessee’

My Brush with Klanaganda

November 15th, 2009 2 comments

When we were on the Nachez Trace Parkway and I went and hiked down to Jackson Falls, I ran into this way old guy and another dude. After the younger guy told me how cool the waterfall was, the old guy started talking to me and then handed me this brochure.

nathaniel-bedford-forrestForrest Gump’s namesake!

Their marketing efforts betray a lack of marketing savvy. Frex, I question their font choice. Italicized Fraktur? IMHO, nothing would better convey modern European racial purity like Helvetica. And you’d think they’d avoid using the term “wizard”.

Anyway.With that, in addition to all the pulled pork, country music, and universal gentility, I felt like I’d experienced the full, True South. Although I suppose I should’ve had to go through some race riots as well. Next time maybe.


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The Capital of Tennessee is Nashville (Day 108)

November 4th, 2009 Comments off

It’s a pretty capitol and the Bicentennial Mall around it is likewise nicely done. After a few hours, I felt I knew everything there was to know about Tennessee history (through 1996). Apparently Piggly Wiggly, the first self-service grocery store, is a product of Tennessee. Also the UT women’s basketball team won an NCAA title some time. And Tennessee took part in some war in the 1860s. It’s all fading now.

I don’t have much of a connection with Tennessee or anything, but I was in Nashville for a few hours after taking my mom to the airport and before heading over to Rich’s place for dinner, so what else was I gonna do?

Good weather also, btw.

nashville-fountainNot that any of these photos illustrate the fact, but Tennessee is a state obsessed with its own weird shape. And this is a fountain that for some reason symbolizes rivers or something.

nashville-capital-leavesDas Capitol. At which point even *I* will concede that my captions have jumped the shark.


nashville_dunn-tennDunn, Tennessee and Dunn, me.

nashville_parthenon-cornerBecause Nashville is the “Athens of the South”, according to Nashville.

Seems like maybe Athens, Ga. would be the “Athens of the South”. Meh. I wonder how either of them would fare against Sparta. Someone should develop a simulator. I also walked around Vanderbilt campus for a while and decided that it looked like a college campus.

And then dinner with Rich & Jen was great.

And to all a good night.


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Natchez Trace Route: Still No Sign of Bandits (Day 107)

November 4th, 2009 1 comment

I’m getting close to as behind on blog posts as I’ve been all trip. Woot!

More photos from the Natchez Trace Parkway. It continued to be a road with stuff to see on either side of it. Day 107 wasn’t rainy. We had peanut butter and jam samiches for lunch. What else is there to tell, really? I know, you’re just here for the photos. Punks.

natchez-trace_tishomingo-lillypadsTishomingo lily pads.

natchez-trace_tishomingo-bridgeThe nearly-invisible swinging bridge.

natchez-trace_trace-sunI can’t tell if this photo is interesting, unsettling, or just bad. I guess none of those are mutually exclusive from any of the others.

natchez-trace_meriwether (1)Meriwether Lewis died here.

natchez-trace_fall-hollow (1)Fall Hollow Falls.

natchez-trace_jackson-fallsJackson Falls.

natchez-trace_tenn-farmsTennessee countryside.

I should probably do some sort of study about blog post quality and previous-night sleep. It was about 35 degrees last night, but mostly both my hips are sore from — I dunno. Lying on the ground without enough padding, I guess, and that’s apparently my personal COG.

Wishing you a safe, lucrative Guy Fawkes Day tomorrow,


How to Fix the Great Smoky Mountains (Day 94)

October 21st, 2009 Comments off

There are two main problems with the Great Smoky Mountains:

  1. They’re crowded.
  2. There are too many people there.

Unless you’ve been slavishly watching Ken Burns documentaries or just really know your national parks, there’s some likelihood (that’s safe) that you may not know that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the system. Frex (this was on a rainy weekday in October):

great-smoky_congestionOTOH: fall color!

So here’s what I propose to fix the problem:

  1. Charge an entrance fee.
  2. Wipe Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge off the face of the earth — or just relocate them to some other part of Tennessee.

Most other parks charge an entrance fee. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that every park out west charges $10-20 for a week’s admission, but *the* *most* *popular* park of all has no fee at all and also just happens to be overcrowded. I think the parks should be self-funding and to certain extent other parks in the system are. I’m not sure why the rest of the country needs to subsidize the South’s park-going (the vast, vast majority of Great Smokies park-goers are southern; those who weren’t were generally from Ohio or Illinois, which basically seem like southern states to me).

As for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the two towns closest to the park on the Tennessee side — man. Here’s Gatlinburg in mid-October:

escape-from-gatlinburgSuch compelling strip low- to mid-range hotels!

These towns are some sort of strange haven for the blue-collar white middle-class. I know this sounds snobbish, but — these places are horrible. Overrun with people and their cars, the only thing the towns offer are a(n admittedly curiously) vast variety of miniature golf places and pancake houses. As a result, Sunday afternoon traffic was frequently immobilized from the park exit all the way to the freeway (at which point it moved just fine). We abandoned our hopes of visiting Cade’s Cove as a result.

Eh. I guess another solution would be to just never try and visit the park from the Tennessee side, but what fun’s that? This country demands drastic, memorable solutions, so: push the button, glass Gatlinburg.

Dropped my bro off at the airport in Knoxville. Stopped *very* briefly in downtown on my way out to take this ill-lit photo:

knoxville_sun-sphereSweet vestiges of 1982!

Contrary to popular belief, however:

  1. I found no sign in Knoxville welcoming me to the “Wod Fir”.
  2. I found no evidence that the Sun Sphere is, in fact, filled with wigs.

I understand that there are the “second Sun Sphere” conspiracy theorists out there, but whatever.

It’s not exactly the Space Needle, either, you know? I mean, the thing’s all of five stories tall. And you also don’t have to drive over sidewalks to illegally park at the Space Needle — I found it mandatory in Knoxville after their direction-giving “Parking” signs led me to a no-parking loading dock with walls on three sides. For as polite as southerners are, you’d think they’d figure out how to make useful, accurate, plentiful road signs. OTOH, maybe if you don’t already know, they don’t want you to find out.


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Rush Hour: Alum Cave Bluffs to Mt. LeConte (Day 92)

October 19th, 2009 7 comments

Read the scene where gravity is pulling me around.

I miss being young enough to think R.E.M. is/was cool.

Went on this hike:

alum-cave_creekAlum Cave Creek

alum-cave_arch-rockArch Rock, or: I’ve now seen a shot for which it would’ve been nice to have a tripod available.

alum-cave_cave-viewThe view from under the overhang of Alum Cave.

alum-cave_trail-cableThe trail!

alum-cave_lodge_stepsThe stairway leading out of the peak-side lodge.

alum-cave_me-at-peakThe actual peak — it’s not the highest in Tennessee.

alum-cave_cliffsThe Cliff Tops.

alum-cave_me-on-cliffsIbid, but with me in the photo.

alum-cave_lodgeA mountain-top hillbilly village!

alum-cave_trail-treesTree tunnel.

alum-cave_trail-cliff-telkTelkontar goes into the light.

alum-cave_trail-falls-cableRain-fed, trail-crossing cascade.

alum-cave_colorYes, they have fall color in Tennessee as well.

alum-cave_cliff-in-mistThey’re called the “Smoky Mountains” because there are clouds there.

alum-cave_log-bridgeA log bridge!

alum-cave_tree-tunnel-creekCreek with trees.

alum-cave_creek-downstreamSame stream, some fallen leaves, trees, and more great smoke.

Ten or 11 miles, out-and-back, 2,800 feet in elevation gain. Went to the lodge, then continued to the peak, then swung by the Cliff Tops before heading down. We saw Jimmy Carter hiking down when we were on the way up. No joke. Didn’t take any photos of him, of course — I mean, it was just Jimmy Carter, not Calvin Coolidge or anything. Most crowded hike I’ve been on the whole trip (excluding the last two miles on the way down from Half Dome). Either the Smoky Mountains visitors are a hardy bunch or there are just *that* *many* of them. (Truly, the park is choked with visitors, bad weather or no.)

With good weather, this is possibly an A-plus hike. In steady-state drizzle? It was still nice. Wish there would have been a view — any view — along the way. The trail was made for views, what with all those ledges and such. Fortunately, the trail itself had some interesting stuff along the way — log bridges, cable-aided narrow walkways, drop-offs into oblivion, steps through arched rocks, weird accommodations at the top. All it needed was views. And maybe a lighthouse. And if there’d been a family of trolls living under any of those bridges that would snatch maybe every seventh hiker or so, that also would have added interest (and thinned the crowd).

Great hiking with Telkontar, of course. He was less affected by the lack of views, no doubt in part because his alternative was being stuck in an office. Whereas my alternative was… sky’s the limit, really.


PS, This hike was in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Smoky Mountains, Rainy Weather, Ramsay Cascades Hike (Day 91)

October 18th, 2009 4 comments

It’s sort of amazing to me how much weather determines my mood. And you’d think that someone who grew up in the Seattle area would be okay with being rained on constantly, no-visibility skies, and temperatures in the low-50s. Nope. Ah, well.

Picked up my bro in Knoxville Wednesday night, slept in a Holiday Inn Express in Kodak or Sevierville (one may be a subset of the other), then trucked on down to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead in the northeast part of the park. It was an eight-mile out-and-back with a 2,400-foot elevation gain.

ramsay_little-pigeon-riverWhen it rains this much, the Little Pigeon grows up a little.

ramsay_log-bridge-telkontarA Telkontar sighting.

ramsay_ramsay-cascadesFor want of a telefoto lens, the best shot available of the falls.

ramsay_warning-signWe weren’t next.

ramsay_path-and-treesWenn von Nebel frei die Bahn!

ramsay_log-bridgeLog bridge on the way back down.

The rivers were awesome and the falls apparently relatively big — I’ve found some other photos online wherein the water coming off them is a lot less than we saw. I guess the rain *is* good for something. I was pretty soaked — as much from sweat as from rain — but lived to fight another day. Some website designated this trail as “difficult”, but that website, whatever one it was, is crazy. Or at least its author has a different definition for “difficult” than I do. Or maybe I’m just in that good of shape.

And then we decided we were wet enough that we didn’t need to prove anything by also camping in such weather. Fortunately, Pigeon Forge offers plenty of cheap hotels. Unless you plan on staying Friday or Saturday night.


PS, I’m staying in the Brick House Campground in South Carolina right now and it is the best Verizon data connection I’ve had through my MiFi the entire trip. Could some physicist out there please explain?

Welcome to Tennessee, The Volunteer State (State #32)

October 17th, 2009 Comments off

Two-thirds there! So I crossed the border at night on a busy, curvy interstate and so while the welcome sign was huge and well-lit, I didn’t bother to get a photo. Maybe I’ll do a make-up some other time when I cross into Tennessee. It is, however, notable that the sign did not read “Tennesseein’ is Tennebelievin'”. Maybe the one coming up from Alabama will.


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