It was a Big Day and a Milestone for Big Creek.
The books arrived yesterday at Spence's house and he brought them to work this morning. I'm not sure who was more excited to see them - Andy (because he has been so annoyed with the slow progress), or me (happy to see my "baby" finally born, or Spence (the main character). Spence took off to weed whack at the park entrance and we headed to the campground for our morning walk.
When the area near the day-use parking lot is freshly trimmed, the foundation of the old logging operation stands out. I think it may have been the saw mill, but am not certain.
Here is another emerald boulder along the campground road. I have really grown quite fond of moss!
The five men from Hendersonville NC in Site 8 were breaking camp. I was sorry to see them go.
I don't know what these are. They are lovely.
We were in the day-use parking lot, heading back to the host site when we saw two large Knoxville TN school buses driving in. Both drivers attempted to park across five or six parking spaces, so I walked to the driver's windows and told them to offload their passengers and then go park in the horse-camp day-use lot. They offloaded ninety middle-school kids and chaperones. Yes, the summer trips have begun.
The kids all headed to the picnic area. Some made their way back up to the restrooms.
With books in hand (and the back seat of the car), I was anxious to get out and distribute them. We stopped at the park entrance and told Spence he had 90 people using the picnic area restrooms. He said he would have to clean them again.
We stopped at Our Place
in Cosby. Boss Larry had told me they like to sell local-interest books. We chatted with Harold for a while and he decided to take four books on consignment. We also bartered: two books for a bag of those gourmet coffee beans.
Of course, we are not going to get near Pigeon Forge without going to the Mellow Mushroom for pizza. There is one in Gatlinburg, but it is so much easier to park in Pigeon Forge. With full tummies, we headed back into the park. My goal is to get Big Creek on the shelves in the park visitor center gift/book shops. I think that will be my best chance of recovering my cost to publish it. I had called the Great Smoky Mountains Association, that runs the visitor centers, and was told to drop a copy off at the Sugarlands Visitor Center shop. They have a review committee to approve books for the shops.
Last year, at the park spring picnic, Andy mentioned that I was writing a book about the park to Superintendent Cassius Cash. He said he wanted a copy. I delivered it today, a year later. I snapped this picture of the park headquarters as we walked to it from the visitor center. Just one of my usual walking shots.
Mr. Cash was in a meeting, but his assistant didn't think it would be a long one. She asked us to wait in the lobby. It was a delightful spot.
When he arrived, we reminded him that I promised him a book last year. We had a delightful visit and he posed with me and the book for Andy to take our picture. He is just as cheerful and friendly as his big smile implies. Of course, he already knows everything that is in the book. He acknowledged that and said it would be interesting to see it from my perspective.
The Little River Ranger Station is near headquarters and Ranger Heath came on duty at four o'clock. I gave him a copy of Big Creek and he posed for me with it. After Spence, Heath is the most-discussed park employee in the book. I told him I hope he doesn't get fired after his bosses read the book.
We got a little surprise treat at the ranger station. These volunteers are VP2 (Volunteer in Park). There were at the ranger station to assist with the Synchronous Firefly Viewing Event. We hear them on the park radio all the time. They roam the park roads and help visitors in distress. We have heard them called to open locked cars with the keys inside. They direct traffic around accident scenes. As much as I hear them on the park radio, I would not be surprised if they put in nearly full-time hours - FOR FREE folks. The national park volunteers are a devoted lot. For me, it was like meeting a radio personality.
Our last stop was the Big Creek Country Store
. Kelly had already told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to sell my books. She is just outside the park entrance to Big Creek, a good spot to sell Big Creek
. She took ten on consignment. Check out the pictures of the store. It is so cute, like a step back in time!
We saw Emily and Cody in the parking lot as we headed to the campground in the afternoon. They were preparing for a multi-day backpacking trip and were packing their packs. We chatted for a few minutes and headed on to the campground.
I noticed this big old tree in Site 10 yesterday but did not have my camera to photograph it. What is wrong with people?!!?!?!?!?!? One of the largest trees in the campground appears to have been chopped into repeatedly with an ax. Some spots seem to have been burned. It does not show in the picture but the whole area is discolored. I am furious. It is tree abuse.
We have not seen regular camper Windy since we arrived this year. He was in the campground this evening with his grandson Marshall. He is a beautiful child with an outgoing personality. I can't believe he is already three years old. I remember him as a baby.
Windy is letting the boy run wild and have a great time to instill a love of camping at an early age. He said that, if his wife Lisa was here, she would not let him have so much fun.
Emily and Cody were still packing when we passed back through the parking lot. I told them that if they were getting too late a start, to come to the host site to spend the night. The campground was full. They said they did a lot of hiking and didn't mind hiking at night. Just about dark, they knocked on our door. They had studied their maps and realized that the Mount Sterling Trail is six miles long and very steep. They accepted our offer. After they were set up, we had a good visit with them. She is doing some research in the park on the effects of last fall's fires. He is a photographer. Check out his website at Lucky Duck Photo
. An interesting thing about Cody: he paid his camp fee with two-dollar bills. He said he collects currency. When he doesn't want to keep it, he spends it. We had such a nice visit, I wished they could stay longer.