Saturday, July 31, 2010
Jumping Into The Past
Because of my elongated unemployment, we -- as a family unit -- have been finding inexpensive things to do to keep us entertained over the last fourteen months. The Boy, Woodrow, and I have been to Coal Creek Armory and The Oak Ridge Sportsman Association for the blasting of various types of targets (including an Osama zombie), with an entertaining variety of firearms, into recyclable waste. As a group, before my elder child moved halfway across the universe, we spent a couple of days in and around Helen, Georgia; hiking, swimming and touring. While there, we acquired a clay butter bell that will contain better than 3/4 of a stick.
Lately, we have visited a few of the nearby Tennessee waterways that are available to the public for the purpose of making certain that the fourth dimension meets its well-deserved demise.
One afternoon, we went to the Ocoee Whitewater Center and ventured into the area called "Blue Hole," a popular swimming spot in the river. We took with us: two vehicles, five camp chairs, two coolers, swimsuits, changes of clothing, the dog -- Doris Daylily -- one sink with two faucets... well, you get the idea. We also dragged along Emily's significant other, Jeremy, who now co-resides in a suburb of Denver with my first-born offspring.
The chairs remained in the back of my truck, due to the fact that the parking area for the Whitewater Center extends to about four miles down-river. We had a decent day there, though it was crowded for a Wednesday, and we picnicked very well in the designated area below the Center, on the opposite side of the river.
On the next trip in which I was a participant, we went to the Tellico River, at the site known as Camping Area 1, just above Baby Falls (that's the place in the photograph above). That time we only had three people, corresponding camp chairs, clothing changes, two coolers, still, etc. Oh, and the dog, who always goes with us, now. We splashed about in the river, but declined to go to the falls that day because it was Friday afternoon, and overpopulated. We did munch on myriad types of food, and we drank whatever we pleased (except beer, which is wrongly banned in national park areas). I also enjoyed a fine product of Nicaragua while drying out for the drive home.
All in all, that was a very pleasant and relaxed day.
Our next waterway visit was to the Little River in Townsend. You folks who are near the half-century mark remember Townsend as a bump in the road on the way to the snaking path through the Smoky Mountains. It has grown in the last couple of decades, and not in a particularly positive way. It's mostly cheap tourist traps, convenience stores and only-okay eateries. But on the north end of town, there's a small picnic area that is nowhere near any of the madcap rafting companies, and -- on a week-day -- can be low-key and enjoyable. The water, in places, is deep enough to actually swim, and the current is negligible. We visited a small railroad museum, which told the story of of the Little River Railroad. It's a small place, but it survives on donations only, and is worth a look, especially compared to most things around town.
While we were picnicking (we're now down to one cooler and three chairs), we hobnobbed some with a Florida family who, apparently, reside in the Orlando area, but originally hail from Indiana. Because of this, my young bride and one of the Florida-Folks' teen-aged daughters waxed poetic about the Colts and Precious, moon-hanging Peyton. The girl was using whatever excuse necessary to hang near The Boy, who is six feet tall, and weighs somewhere between nothing and 150, but has no discernible fat on his body -- making him, pretty much, solid muscle.
We spent a Wednesday gadding about in Polk County around the Hiwassee River. That was only an OK trip, as the river level was high, and the current prohibitive for swimming purposes. But the food was good, the atmosphere relaxed, and the product of Nicaragua enjoyable. One of the oddities we observed was a group of Amish women, who had driven the buggies down to the river to go swimming. I had no idea we even had an Amish community in the area, but it was nice to see some young girls who weren't glued to cell phones, staring at tiny digital screens, texting and adjusting their headsets, while ignoring the world around them. And no, I don't believe that an old cell phone that only makes and receives calls would qualify as "plain."
Our last trip was another jaunt to the Tellico River and Camping Area 1. The photographs at the top of this post are from that sojourn. The fat guy in the middle of his jump is me (I had not been off the falls since 1987), and The Boy is in the gray trunks, waiting his turn. I posted that photo on my Facebook wall, and there were several happy comments from people about days-gone-by. My buddy Winnie, on the other hand, pointed out repeatedly that drowning at Baby Falls was a distinct possibility. Now, we all know that, but we all also know that driving across railroad tracks while a train is bearing down is a poor choice -- a fact that had to be reinforced with Winnie a few years back.
The food was outstanding that day, because we purchased sandwiches from the Tellico Grains Bakery down in "town." The Boy and I both had roasted pecan chicken salad sandwiches, with grapes tossed in for fun. The Boss had a BBLT, which has smoked bacon on it, and the bite I wheedled out of her was good. For those who haven't visited Tellico Plains in years, there's also a Harley-Davidson dealer in a building that used to be a "Mom & Pop" grocery.
So far, the Tellico River has been our favorite spot. The water is cold, but not freezing. The numbers of bodies have been low-to-medium, the food has been outstanding, and Doris Daylily can walk around in the water without an unexpected sploosh.
Of course, I now have a job (temp-to-hire, through the Aerotek staffing company) that is straight days, in an actual laboratory, so we may have to adjust the way we do things. But employment is good, and I will adapt.