Space and Green Space

20140426_121713Zooming along the expressway approaching Huntsville (AL), we suddenly see a very odd sight – a rocketship pointing up into the sky.  How could we not know that there’s a NASA Visitor Center here?  Pulling in to investigate, we see a space shuttle, and the Space Camp logo. 20140426_11582720140426_12032020140426_121418 It’s already mid-afternoon, and we know that this will be a full day’s stop.  We’ll have to make this happen next year.  It looks like a fabulous spot to visit.

For the first time, we snuck into Georgia (the very NW corner) to a state park called Cloudland Canyon. Here’s my interpretation of the name….

Georgia = The South = Hot
Cloud = Water = Humid

Get it? We steamed ourselves for two days in a beautiful setting, after pitching down a steep state road, then climbing back out the other side to the State Park near the top. Arriving on Saturday afternoon, the campground was packed. Our reservation guaranteed us a campsite, but not any particular one, so we had to choose from the three that were available (out of about 100 sites). We lucked out, and got a great campsite – one without neighbors right on top of us, and a bit of extra space on each side, and our own sculpture park.20140426_180508 Whew! We hiked with Jezzy on the West Rim Trail, which gave us great views of the canyon and a few waterfalls.20140427_10472020140427_10495220140427_11255920140427_114602 Wish we would have had an extra day or two to spend here, so that we could explore some of the other trails. Although this park is old, and the facilities are a bit dated, it was clean and beautiful. We would come back here again in a minute.

Monday morning, we head out. First, we decided that we had to detour to see the Chickamauga/Chattanooga Military Park. 20140428_101014

This battlefield was the site of a Confederate victory at Chickamauga, and later, a decisive defeat at Chattanooga. Of the many areas to explore, we decided to tour Missionary Hill, where an unexpected charge by Union forces overwhelmed and drove back Confederate forces, setting the stage for the victory at Chattenooga, and the ultimate defeat of the Confederate Army soon thereafter. It’s a curious drive – up a narrow, winding road past mansions, many with plaques and/or cannons in their yards. At the top is a luxury condo building, and a park with more commemorative monuments of the battle and its combatants. Very different than Shiloh, as that was a small area confined totally to the National Battlefield Park.

The rest of the drive down US 64 toward Smoky Mountain National Park is spectacular. Can’t think of a prettier stretch of highway to wander. We stopped along the Ocoee River for lunch,20140428_115729 then stopped again farther down to admire the site of the 1996 Olympic Whitewater course.20140428_12392720140428_123947 It’s gorgeous. There are several small TVA dam projects, and we stopped at every one to enjoy the scenery.20140428_12292920140428_122751 Lots of cars with kayaks, and people with wetsuits walking along the road. What a great drive.

Onward to Smoky Mountain National Park, NC. We wanted to spend a few days at Smokemont Campground, hoping that the thousands of rhododendrons in this area would be in bloom.20140429_13165120140429_13145020140429_131609 Unfortunately, we are a few weeks early – damn! I had convinced myself that this would be the time these would all be blossomed out (and there are thousands of them in the mountainside, and along the river). We were here one time before in October, so I guess this is strike two in my quest to see them all in bloom.
It’s very quiet here, and we’ve got the same campsite we scored two years ago in our first visit here. After big thunderstorms the first night, it finally clears around noon, and we wander trails along the Ocanoluftee River.

I really wanted John to haul this big boulder home for me.  Answer = NO!20140429_131527Everything here is that crazy combination of green shades, peculiar to spring. It’s that fuzzy, hazy color that makes me happy inside.20140429_132509We saw lots of butterflies on the Trail.  Question for all you readers with butterfly knowledge….why are they are clustered in the horse dung in the Trail?  That’s where there were all hanging out.

We’re so close to the end of our trip that we’re already talking of it in the past tense. In about 10 days, we’ll be home – mowing the lawn, planting the garden, trying to erase a few months of neglect from our home.  Hard to believe, so guess I’ll just ignore it for the next few days.

19 thoughts on “Space and Green Space

  1. It’s a shame that your trip will be ending soon, I’ve loved seeing your photos from it.

    I have visited a few of the places that you did in this post, including Missionary Ridge. It’s hard to believe that men tried to charge up that ridge while canons fired down on them as they approached. A lot of very brave men on both sides died in that battle!

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    • Thanks for traveling with us. We’ve had a pretty good time.

      It is difficult for me to comprehend these Civil War battles. The brutality is life then is just too much.

      On another note, wonder if sometime you would consider letting me join you on one of your photo trips. I’d be great at hauling gear, and will be quiet and stay out of the way. Think on it, OK?

      Bet you can’t wait for your own vacation to begin. You sure have earned it.

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      • Well, the short answer to your question about tagging along with me sometime is yes, but you have to be prepared to follow my “rules”.

        I tend to poke along at a very slow pace, if you’re in a hurry, I’ll tell you to go on by yourselves. The less I see, the slower I go, for at least a while, until I finally give and admit that it is just a poor day.

        I don’t mind small talk, but I don’t watch TV, don’t see movies, and don’t follow sports, so those topics don’t interest me. Besides, my eyes and ears will be concentrating on wildlife, so I may have to ask you to repeat yourselves often, as I shut out the human world while I’m outdoors.

        Don’t be offended if I attempt to teach you how to walk in the quietly in the woods, and remind you to walk quietly from time to time. I’ll also attempt to teach you how to locate and see wildlife if you’d like me to, it seems simple, but it takes practice.

        So, if you don’t mind walking with an oddball, maybe we could meet someplace such as Pickerel Lake one of these weekends. BTW, Jezzy is fine by me as well.

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      • It would be just me, no John (and certainly no Jezzy!). I’m not a tv or movie watcher either, so no worries about that.

        I’m interested in watching you work, and carry some gear if I can help out. Pretty good at following orders, and looking forward to learning something.

        If we can make it work out, great. I surely don’t want to be a nuisance or cramp your style.

        Doesn’t really matter where to me – perhaps somewhere I can make myself useful.

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  2. Remembering many years ago, a whitewater raft trip down that Ococee River….its so beautiful around there! We hit MI the 13th….hopeful this gig a good fit! Ready for a warm-up..glad you are missing the storms!!! Be safe….

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    • It’s going to be a shock to reacquaint ourselves with Michigan again. We’re going to be seeing it with the eyes of a visitor – think we will have a totally different view if our beautiful state after being gone for so long.

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  3. It’s amazing to see the dramatic difference between the earth colors of the Southwest and the greens of the South. We’re finally seeing Spring blooms here. You are coming back at the right time to miss the worst of the winter. Still pretty cool, but temps are starting to edge up. Lake Superior still is about 65% ice covered. Hope you aren’t seeing any of the major storms hitting the Southeast. Take care. Keep an eye on the sky.

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  4. I don’t know why butterflies cluster in dung. I took a glorious photo of an iridescent blue and black swallowtail butterfly once, and only when I processed the photo did I see he was on top of a pile of dog doo. I thought he was a lot less beautiful than I did at first!

    Such beautiful country you are traveling through!

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  5. Good to know that you found Missionary Ridge. I tried to find that place twice on my way for FL and it was raining buckets each time…so I gave up. John will have to show me how he found it.

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    • It’s not easy to find but I had a Park Service map. I did go to Google maps and search ‘missionary ridge’ and it popped right up. Try it.

      John

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