While I am more than a week past my days (and cold nights) in Tennessee, I have enough great photos to bring all of my memories of the Great Smokies back. I camped & hiked in the area of Cades Cove where you can explore historic cabins, churches and a grist mill; see white-tailed deer, turkeys and black bears (I saw 5!); and enjoy the gorgeous mountain scenery. You can supposedly take a leisurely bicycle ride around the scenic 11-mile loop road, too but I found that to be impossible during peak leaf peeping season.
Before the park was created, Cherokee Indians then European settlers lived in this valley as early as 1820. The first large piece of land purchased in 1927 for the park included most of the land in the mountains north of the Cove. Yet, some residents signed life-leases that allowed them to live on their land for the rest of their lives, with the last school closing in '44, and the post office in '47.
So, who is Ann Davis? She's credited with suggesting a National Park in the Smokies when she and her husband returned from a trip visiting several Western national parks in 1923. Money to buy the land was raised by individuals, private groups, and even school kids who pledged their pennies. In addition, the Rockefellers donated $5 million to create the park.
Up next, a brief stop in Asheville, NC.
My one stop in Kentucky was Land Between the Lakes which sits in the southwest corner of the state and extends into Tennessee. In 1963, President Kennedy designated it a national recreation area which displaced about 3,000 people though both lakes had been formed much earlier by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
I enjoyed biking and trail hiking less than half of the area during my three days. This is definitely a shared use space to bike, hike, fish, boat, hunt, etc. It was a great time of the year to be here as I imagine summer time must be packed with people in the region.
After 6 weeks of living in a community of hundreds of people, I was ready to return to my tent in the woods and wake up with the birds. That said, the cold weather hit on my second night but that's a tale that continues into my time in Tennessee. More coming soon!
I'm now road tripping East with quick stops in Kansas & Missouri. Spent 2 nights in Salina, Kansas (population: 48,000), and can't quite figure out who lives there or why they would possibly live there. I toured the entire town by bike which I enjoyed because quite often I could ride right down the middle of the street.
Don't get me wrong, there were many things to do in Kansas: The Prairie Museum, Chrysler's Boyhood Home, Eisenhower's Library & Museum, and the one that almost got me, The Oz Museum! Unfortunately, none of these were in Salina, and I'm on a mission to get to Kentucky & Tennessee before the nights get too cold! Western Kansas looked like I pictured it but as I moved East, golden rolling hills appeared that were quite beautiful.
I'm now enjoying Columbia, Missouri (population: 115,000), a university town that's quite quaint. Main street is well-preserved and interesting; there's a multi-use trail throughout the city; and the U of Missouri campus is quite nice. I've biked and walked most of this town in the past 24 hours & could certainly spend more time here. That said, tomorrow, the tent goes up at Land Between the Lakes. Update to come when I return to the grid!
It's my last night in the Rocky Mountains as I hit the road again at dawn. I've been lax in my blog entries these past couple of weeks but not for lack of thoughts or activity. On the contrary, I've been a bit crazily busy wrapping up my volunteer days, keeping my freelance work going, spending time with some wonderful people, and enjoying the great outdoors.
The mountain tops have a dusting of snow now but we've continued to enjoy a gorgeous fall. Amidst a challenging work environment (changes are in the midst), I've had a few bike rides and even more than a few hikes along the trails to scenic water views. I've also eaten far too many calorie-packed meals at the continuous all-you-can-eat buffets so it's time to get back to grazing and pedaling as I continue to head East.
I hope you enjoy the highlights of my last 2 weeks! Next up is a quick run through Kansas and Missouri with Kentucky the next stop to write home about!
NOTE: To those of you who have been following for some time, the Austin City Limits performance I attended airs tonight & I'll be viewing it with hawk eyes. I also want to add a comment on the Grand Canyon. If you recall my rant on June 5th, re: "When will it stop?", you can say you heard it here first -- a possible valet service? Really?
I've been crazily busy with three days of work, some freelance work, an overabundance of social possibilities, and fitting in biking & hiking in between. That said, two weeks ago, I designated Monday as "Boulder Day" with one more trip to go. Boulder has always been on my "to visit" list, and it's just an hour down the mountain pass.
The biggest surprise is that Boulder isn't as funky as I expected. I'd say Burlington, VT and Flagstaff, AZ have more of an edge left than Boulder does, though all three places seem to have a similar personality. I really like Boulder and the people seem quite happy. The cycling is amazing, and there are friendly cyclists everywhere! Overall, a pretty good vibe but a little more grown up than I expected!
The photos are from 2 visits, and I can't wait to return this Monday.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover