Spring in the Smokies

It’s the home stretch, baby. Just two more nights in North Carolina, two furious days on the road, and we’ll be back home. My bet is that I’ll be wishing we were back on the road again in about a week. The glow of being home sometimes wears off quickly.

Leaving Evansville, we headed to Big South Fork NRA in Tennessee. This turned out to be a fabulous spot to camp – quiet, great bathrooms/showers, and well-spaced campsites in the trees. I’d go back in a heartbeat.20160514_133149This area is loaded with hiking trails, so we opted for a 6.5 mile jaunt to one of the original homesteads in the area.20160514_12214620160514_12052720160514_12194020160514_120941


Magnolia trees with gigantic leaves are scattered along the Trail – they were gorgeous to see, and would be truly spectacular when they bloom.20160514_105548Perhaps best of all, this was a walk on which we could take Jezzy. I totally understand the ban of dogs on trails in the National Parks and many State Parks, but we jump at the chance to include her on our hikes where we can.

Moving on, we decided to revisit Smokemont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This was our third trip to GSMNP, and our second to this campground – in fact, we had the same campsite as our first visit. There were few campers in the Park, although the road in was jammed with cars near any trailhead or attraction when we arrived on Sunday. I really thought that we would be able to see blooms on the thousands of rhododendrons in the Park. Nope! We were STILL too early in the season – a huge disappointment. We saw a few meager blossoms.20160514_104449Our seven mile hike took us along a trail dense with rhododendrons on each side, limiting our views out into the Smokies. So, I had to concentrate my camera on some of the small sights instead of the big scenes. Macro photography is not my specialty, but I did spy a few things I wanted to share. Check out this pink moth. The flowers on the Salomon’s Seal were nearly ready to open.

Most of my flower shots were stupid-looking, so I’m not even going to bother to post them. BUT, the real show came as we trudged back to the campground. As we passed the RV dump station, we noticed dzens of yellow swallowtail butterflies clumped together in pools of liquid on the ground. Whether this was fresh water from the spigots or a bit of drizzle from some RV’s gray or blackwater tanks, I don’t know. But the butterflies were everywhere.20160516_132106Nearby was an even more curious sight. At the base of a tree near our site were other clumps of swallowtails, but I’m not sure what was happening here. But it was butterfly carnage – torn wings and pieces and parts of butterflies were everywhere amid the clumps of fluttering wings. Were they mating, and then the females eat the males? I have no idea. It might be hard to see in the photos, because the ground cover masks the pieces of wings, but look closely and you’ll see what I mean. I’m anxious to get to a spot where I can have enough Wifi to do a bit of research on this – it was crazy to see.20160516_16070320160516_160753We checked out the Visitor Center and wandered through the reconstructed settlement there. Original buildings from various areas of the Park have been moved here, and restored. It’s gorgeous, and the perfect, picturesque setting.20160517_121553.jpg20160517_121636.jpgAnd, how could you NOT want to just settle in and hang out on the veranda of the Visitor Center for a spell?20160517_123858.jpgNow, we’re in Maggie Valley, NC for a ‘rally’ with our T@B and T@DA pals. There are probably 50 campers here, from as far away as New England and Seattle. It’s great to connect with old friends and greet new ones.

I  think my phone is trashed – I inadvertently left it on a chair under our awning last night. It rained, and some of the rain funneled directly into the chair where it pooled around the phone. Damn! I’ve dried it out as best as I can, but nothing seems to be happening. It was due for replacement when we get back home, but I’m sad that it may have bitten the dust a bit prematurely. I’m definitely not relishing the learning curve of a new phone.

26 thoughts on “Spring in the Smokies

  1. Thanks for the helpful putting up. It can also be my notion that mesothelioma comes with a particularly extended latency period, which ensures that symptoms in the disease could very well not come up till 25 to 50 years following 1st exposure to mesmiheltooa. Pleural mesothelioma, that is certainly the commonest variety as well as affects the spot about the lungs, might result in shortness associated with breath, upper body pains, and a persistent shhh, which can lead to coughing way up blood.


    • Thanks, Dawg. New phone is a huge improvement over the old. Actually, I’m surprised that I don’t have more fatal phone mishaps.

      I breezed through some of your blog posts. Great photos – am looking forward to spending more time checking them out for great spits to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment! I can’t really imagine what it’s like to plan for becoming a full-time. Where DO you start? The Smokies in the fall would be excellent, for sure. My advice would be to travel slowly, and savor the places you visit. Explore them as thoroughly as you can. Texas has gorgeous State Parks in a wide variety of places. We’ve enjoyed Galveston Island, Palo Duro, Caprock, for starters. Big Bend is not to be missed.

      Going backwards through our blog, you can find photos and comments on these spots. Unfortunately, I haven’t done a great job with tagging our locations, especially in some of our early travels, so you may have to skim thru many episodes to find the spots you are looking for.

      Have fun, and happy travels.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those are our kind of campgrounds too! Definitely need to find time to enjoy the more rural sites in the Smokies! Great seeing you and John and we may just join in on the Lilac’s come June 2017!


  3. It was great to really meet you both at the BRR. WOW what a wonderful detour you made to get to NC. I’m going to miss your posts but hope you enjoy getting back to your homestead.


    • Great to meet you and Pam, too. And Sandy of course.

      Posts will slow down, but not vanish entirely while we’re home. Hope you made it safely home today – we had a record mileage day for us today 461 miles. That should make only about 225 for tomorrow. Yay!


  4. My husband stumbled across your blog and we have enjoyed following your travels. We own a 2015 T@B and enjoy trips similar to yours. Your meager rhododendron flowers are really mountain laurels. I don’t know much about them or if they bloom before or after rhododendrons, but we saw a lot of them on a Blue Ridge Parkway trip in June 2011.


    • Hi Melita! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I thought those flowers were some kind of azalea, but I wasn’t sure. They say that the wild rhododendrons don’t bloom for another couple of weeks. I didn’t realize that the native plants wouldn’t bloom at the same time as the ones people have in their yards – those are in full bloom here, and they’re gorgeous. It’s such a disappointment to be foiled again in seeing them in the Trail.

      Hope we meet you at a T@B rally sometime. It’s a blast to find a bunch of kindred campers.

      Thanks for checking in.


  5. Great pictures, Nancy and I did some hiking, in 1963, hardly anyone around, it was great, stayed overnight on mount Le Conte Lodge or something like that.


    • I’m not familiar with any of the lodges, but it’s an incredible place to camp and hike. The Appalachian Trail runs right through the Park, so we strolled a few hundred feet along it. Now we can say that we hiked the AT in NC!

      See you soon.


  6. It’s been so much fun to see you again! I wish we had more time, but I’m counting on you next spring for the Lilac Rally! xoxoxoxo


    • We are THERE for the Lilac Festival. Couldn’t let you get that close without seeing you.

      I smiled so much last night my face hurt this morning. I’m pretty sure we are sistahs of some kind of another. You are the Best.


      • My advice? Drink – it doesn’t help with the technical issues, but you don’t care so much.

        I’m going shopping for a new smartphone today, as I blew mine up (finally) five days before getting home. No phone must be a worse problem than new phone, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember visiting the Great Smokey Mountains when I was a kid on our family trip. I went back as an adult for a week-long golfing vacation. The lush green-ness of spring is what really sticks in my memory and the fact that there’s actually a spring season when the flowers can bloom and stay in bloom without fear of a snow squall knocking them all off. When I was in grade school, the Foxfire books were really popular and I think about how the student authors captured so much history of Appalachia. I hope we can someday make this trip AND attend the T@B and T@DA rally!


    • Dave, this site is a gorgeous time to be here – every shade of green imaginable. This is our third trip into the Smokies, and each time is a bit different.

      Sure hope we are around for your first T@B rally. Maybe we should just plan a Michigan one. If we plan it, they will come…..

      We need to check in with you about our window situation. We have a new frame, but there’s no hinge. Maybe you can engineer one on your 3d printer? We had high hopes for the replacement frame from our pals, but it has no hinge. Arrggh!!


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