Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018 - Memorial Day Men Arrive

We had heard Spence using a blower or string trimmer earlier.  Then he showed up for a cup of coffee while we were eating breakfast. Then he headed up to the tent campground to clean the restrooms. We were heading to the campground when Andy decided to stay in the picnic area parking lot so he could direct traffic to the horse camp day-use lot.  I walked around the tent campground myself.

Does this car have enough stickers?



I had taken a resupply of brochures and newspapers for the registration kiosk.  Someone had taken the rock paperweight away!  It is necessary to keep the newspapers from blowing around.  I rummaged around the campground until I found another suitable rock. There were only two sites with tents on them and only a couple there that was just leaving.  A man and woman with two small children drove in to look at the campground.  I described my favorite spots and told them to take a look around.

When Bill and Mary were here yesterday, I kept aking them to taste the Licorice of the Woods.  Most of them tasted more like turpentine than licorice.  This morning, I tried one and it was delicious.  Then, a few yards farther down the campground road, this one tasted terrible.


Licorice of the Woods

The parts I've been tasting are those flower-bud-looking things. I can't figure out why some are so good and others awful.


Two young men (early teens) had walked up the horse trail while we were eating lunch.  Before we were done, they came back by.  One of them excitedly told us they had seen a large bear on the far side of the creek.  He said the bear had moved off when he saw the boys.  We said we would warn the campers not to leave any food out to attract the bear into their campsites.

Also, during lunch, Andy said he thought he had seen a golf cart go by the parking lot.

As we walked up to the campground in the evening, we saw a car parked in the handicap parking space.  I have called Dispatch to report such a number of times in the past, but no rangers ever came to give them a ticket.  So, I did not call it in this time. I'll ask Boss Larry for advice.

We were delighted to see the Memorial Day men in Site 12.  This is the group that comes every year the week before Memorial Day.  We stopped and chatted with them.  They said they had bought a copy of  Big Creek at the Big Creek Country Store.


They had two large tents on Site 12.  I reminded them that tents are supposed to be on the ten pad.  Then I added that I was not going to give them a hard time since they had three huge racks of ribs over their fire. Then they told me that when they called for a reservation today, they were told that only Site 12 was available.  When I look it up in the reservation system, there are seven sites available.

As we were walking back to our host site, a four-wheel vehicle came cruising through the parking lot.  Andy said that was the one he had seen from our picnic table while we were eating our lunch. They were two men and two women with a big cooler on the back.  The vehicle did not have a license plate.  I could not help but wonder if they had driven it up the Big Creek Trail.  It had been several hours since Andy saw them drive in.


Mushrooms have sprouted up by the tree next to the toilet building.

mushrooms

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May 19, 2018 - Fancy Camping and Bill and Mary

Friends Bill and Mary are traveling through the area with their fifth wheel RV (the kind that attaches on the bed of a pickup truck).  They are heading home to Maine and spent the night in the Cosby Campground last night. They arrived here in Big Creek this morning, just as Spence was leaving.  Bill was happy to see Spence since he is currently reading Big Creek and Spence is the main character.

Bill and Mary walked around the campground with us for our morning rounds. Mary pointed out that Site 1 is the kitchen for the fancy, luxury camping group with the A Walk in the Woods company. It looked rather fancy from a distance.


Apparently, they had a lecture before leaving for a hike to Ramsey Cascades this morning.  The camp chairs were set up for an audience.


The picnic table had become the dining table under the blue canopy.  There is a table cloth with placemats.    A small folding table was set at one end of the picnic table. It held a pot of flowers and two candles.


The brown tarp covered the whole tent pad and the galley.  I took advantage of my job of checking for food left out to get a picture of the complete kitchen. There was no food left out.


The man in Site 4 had a very small pup tent.  He was sitting at his picnic table under an umbrella clipped to the edge.  I noticed that he was opening a can of beans. I chatted with him a bit and we laughed at the contrast between his camp and the luxury one.

These three women had just shed their backpacks on the creek path and scrambled over some boulders to get to this fine perch in Big Creek.


Andy said it would be too much work for me to fix Bill and Mary a dinner and we should take them to The Beantrees in Hartford.  This is just the next exit on the interstate.  That was easier than cooking in the RV, but I had planned a campfire dinner.  Turns out, Bill and Mary were anxious to continue on to Maine so eating out was the fastest way to feed them lunch.


Here is a better look at Yuki, one of the best little dogs in the whole world.


I had expected Bill and Mary to stay all day and spend another night in Cosby so I was disappointed that they left right after lunch.  Maybe we'll have S'mores by the campfire another time.


Friday, May 18, 2018

May 17 - 18, 2018 High Maintenance Woman

Yesterday was another foray out to civilization - and a long drive to the west of Knoxville, Tennessee to the endodontist. No one looks forward to a root canal, but I was anxious to get the tooth fixed.  It has been bothering me for a long, long time and been worked on several times.

I really liked Dr. Case. Never felt any pain.  Not even the shots to numb my mouth. In the end, though, he did not finish the job. He said he wanted to give me another week or so of antibiotics to clear up the infection.  He also thought he saw a crack in the tooth.  He will look at the CT scan and decide how to proceed by the next appointment.

My face was swollen when we went to Costco to order a new pair of glasses for me.  Andy is absolutely no help in choosing frames.  With every pair I tried on, he said, "Looks good".  The anesthetic seemed to be wearing off so I ate a Costco hot dog and part of my right cheek for lunch.

It had been raining heavily at Big Creek when we returned and the rain continued through the night.  It was clammy humid when we walked up to the campground this morning.  Eleven of the twelve campsites turned over today.  I placed the registration cards on the board and we walked around the nearly-empty campground before heading back to our site.




This couple could not reserve the same site for their stay so they moved this morning.  They said they will move back to their first site when it is vacated.


I had noticed that four sites were reserved by the same person. It turned out to be "A Walk in the Woods", a company that runs guided hikes in the Smokies.  We have seen them here in the day-use parking lot, preparing lunch out of the back of a van for their hiking customers.  Today, the hikers must have gone up the Big Creek Trail.  There were three or four people setting up their large tents.  It looked like a deluxe affair with cots, mattresses, and a rug inside the tents. Here they are in Sites 5, 7, 8, and 6, left to right.  That is empty Site 4 in the foreground.




I have seen and photographed these plants since the first year we volunteered here in Big Creek.  Most of my pictures are of the clusters of tiny white flowers.  A few years ago, unthinking, I pinched off what looked like a flower bud and put it in my mouth.  Yummy delicious licorice flavor!  I had to look it up again.  It is Sweetroot, a member of the carrot family. It is also called Licorice of the Woods.  According to what I've read about it tonight, I'll be safe sampling the leaves tomorrow and maybe even add them to our salad.



Here is another plant I have not identified yet.  I know I have seen it since childhood.


Boss Larry stopped by in the early afternoon.  We have hardly seen him since we arrived.  We had a nice visit with plenty of laughs.  I forgot to take a picture of him again.  I did remember to ask for more park brochures though.  They disappear at a great rate at the tent campground.

The sun came out for a while in the later afternoon.  This is a walkway past the group picnic table to the bridge




Today was the first time a got a decent picture of the rock wall across the bridge.  I finally figured out to take a picture other than straight on.


Andy waited on the bridge, apparently looking for fish.


These leaves are hanging above the bridge.


Today there was a cute little standing wave at the top of the drop, just downstream of the bridge.



This rock in the creek upstream of the bridge caught my attention today.  I guess it was the way the light was shining on it.


When I zoomed in with my camera, I noticed that a little tree is growing on it.






Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 14 - 15 - 16 - Another Dud Weekend

Again, our weekend (Monday and Tuesday) turned out to be mostly work and not much fun.

Andy's hiking boots had died on Sunday so our first priority was to get a new pair.  One of the campers here was wearing an inexpensive pair he got at Costco. Andy decided he must have a some.  Costco is a long way to go to find out they did not have any more hiking boots. We stopped in the Co-Op in Sevierville and he got a very nice pair at five times the price of the Costco ones.  Today Andy quipped that the boots would outlast him.  I wailed, what would I do with a pair of 10-1/2 hiking boots if he died.  Andy suggested that I find a new husband with size 10-1/2 feet. Shoe shopping took us all day.

I was back at the dentist on Tuesday morning.  He referred me to an endodontist in Knoxville and the receptionist made an appointment for me on Thursday. Then we headed to the Cosby campground to do our laundry.  It was late enough in the day that Clyde and Debbie (Cosby campground hosts) had returned from a few days at home.  We sat and chatted with them while I did three loads. That was a pleasant few hours.

It was almost dark when we got back to Big Creek.  Camper Michele was at our campsite when we got back so I invited her to stay and talk over a cup of tea. That was a delightful end to our camp-host weekend.

Today was rainy and cold most of the day.  There were only a few people in Big Creek. 



The campground had two tents in the morning and three in the evening. Michele stopped by in the morning with a friend from New York and her two daughters. They were headed to the artist village shops to look around on a rainy day and invited us to join them at their campsite in the evening for campfire-pineapple-upside-down cake.

Andy Walking Down Tent Campground Road

We had a quiet day.  Only one person came to our site for help. She and her husband had hiked up the Big Creek Trail yesterday and she lost her brand new Land's End jacket.  She had bought it for this trip. People do occasionally bring us lost items but no one brought the jacket.  She asked if the park has a lost and found so I gave her my phone to use to call and ask. They left to walk up the trail to see if it might still be lying on the ground along the trail.  We never saw them again to know if she found it.  I fretted about her the rest of the day.

It took a while to get a fire going, even with wood that was not directly rained on. It has been that humid and moist here for the past few days.

Campfire Ramen Noodles

This was a new campfire treat to us.  Michele spread out sheets of aluminum foil on the picnic table.  She put a little pile of brown sugar on the foil and topped it with a healthy chunk of butter.  She placed a cherry on top of the butter and set a ring of pineapple over the cherry. Next, she put one of those little round grocery store cakes used for making strawberry shortcake upside down over the pineapple.  They were wrapped in the foil and placed on the grate above the fire. I wasn't paying attention, but she probably left them on the fire for ten or fifteen minutes.  Yummy!!

Michele Making Campfire Treats

Michele knows all kinds of campfire treats. After a while, she made campfire popcorn.  She put the popcorn and some oil in an aluminum pie pan.  Then she used two long sheets of aluminum foil to wrap the pie pan and make a tent over it.  It sat above the fire until the popping slowed. Voila!  Homemade Jiffy Pop. You know, everything tastes better cooked on a campfire.




 Here is Michele (in blue) and her friend (Tanika?).  I really enjoyed their company this evening.



The moss on these boulders along the campground road was looking lush in the dampness.


Green Velvet Boulders



Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018 - Mother's Day and Michelle Griffith

Mother's Day! And Big Creek began filling up early with family groups celebrating with a picnic. The tent campground only had a few tents left when we walked around in the morning but three more filled by evening.


Big Creek Tent Site 3

We took a short path through the woods to the creek-side path.  There is just something about the sun shining on leaves in a shady forest that strikes my fancy.


Several large groups of picnickers had already claimed a table along the creek.


Grandparents, parents, and a six-week-old baby boy were at the table closest to the bridge. I was so busy stroking his fat little baby cheeks and hungering for those ten tiny toes that I forgot to take a picture of him.


Of course, we stood on the bridge and watched the water flow over the rocks. This hole full of pebbles is just before the water spills over the ledge and into the swimming hole. I love the way the water is so smooth and clear over the hole and then churns its way over the downstream side.



It is only a weed when it is growing where it is not wanted.  Here in Big Creek, this dandelion is another fine wildflower specimen.  On the other hand, it may be considered a weed here because it is growing through the walkway gravel.


I got a real treat this evening when Michelle Griffith stopped in for a visit.  She bought a copy of Big Creek: A Closer Look at a National Park from Our Place in Cosby, TN last year. She loved it!!!  She followed this blog and we have corresponded and kept in touch with Facebook and email.  We sat and talked non-stop for a couple hours.  It was getting too dark to take a picture today, but she'll be here for several more days

Saturday, May 12, 2018

May 12, 2018 - Leaves and Big Creek

We had a busy day answering questions and helping people find the Big Creek trailhead.  The picnic area parking lot was full by mid-morning with day visitors coming in to have a picnic or hike to the Midnight Hole. We had a number of turnovers in the tent campground and it stayed full again.

I took this set of pictures as we walked along the creek path from the tent campground.  I was marveling over the amazing variety of plants here.