Sunday, October 25, 2015

Met Someone Interesting and a Historical Twist.


October 14, 2015


We were trying to decide on whether or not to leave Georgia and head back to Tampa.  My Mom was having good days and then not so good days and we were hoping she would do better so we could stay in Georgia at least through the fall foliage season.

We spent a day driving on some of the scenic routes looking for fall color.  It hadn’t reached peak color but we enjoyed it anyway.

We drove up to Brasstown Bald, which is the highest mountain in Georgia.  They have a lovely viewing center. The fall foliage was just beginning to change.


The road up was gorgeous with cobalt blue skies.



Most of the trees were still green, but there was enough color to make for an enjoyable day.


When you get to the parking lot below the visitor center, you can walk the .6 mile on a paved trail up to the viewing area, or you can catch a shuttle.  The trail is kind of boring, and we didn’t want to waste precious time walking, so we took the bus.

While on the bus we struck up a conversation with another couple.  As we were exiting the bus she mentioned she had been there before and brought a picture.  I expected a picture of beautiful fall foliage, but I was certainly surprised at the picture she showed us.

There used to be a fire tower on the top of Brasstown Bald since it’s the highest peak in Georgia.

They have a non working fire tower up there now, but it’s no longer used because of new technology which made it obsolete.

This is what it looks like now.  That is the fire tower in the background and the visitor center in the foreground.


Peggy and Walt (I think was his name) were the couple on the bus.  This is the picture she wanted to show me.

It turns out she was last at Brasstown in 1957 as a little girl.


Peggy and Walt?  the little girl on the left in the picture of Brasstown in 1957


Brasstown Bald 1957.  Lenord E Foote in background. 

She is the little girl on the left.  Her sister is on the right and the man in the background was a family friend who is kind of a celebrity in Georgia.  His name was Leonard E. Foote.

If you’ve ever been to Amicalola Falls  State Park, you might have heard of the “ Len Foote Hike-Inn.”

From the top of Amicalola Falls, you hike 5 miles down to the Inn.   You can spend the night at the Inn, but you need to bring any personal items you may need.


Notice the name on the Inn? 


On a historical note . . .
The Len Foote Inn is named for Leonard E. Foote, a leading conservationist, biologist and nature photographer, who inspired the comic strip “Mark Trail.” Foote, a Georgia resident, worked for 30 years as the southeastern representative for the Wildlife Management Institute and 18 years on the Georgia Game and Fish Commission and the Board of Natural Resources.


One of the park rangers saw the picture, gave me his email address and asked that I send him the picture of the picture that I took.  He is going to copy it and post it at the visitor center at Brasstown Bald. 

We enjoyed a few minutes at the viewing area.


One of our favorite spots to read on a day when we have more time.



The color was just starting.




Some more pictures from our scenic drive that day.






Sadly, this was to be our last full day in Georgia. We left the next day and are now back in Tampa caring for my Mother.  More on that later.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Moving Exhibit



Blairsville, Georgia  (high 68, low 45)

From 10/11/15

I think winter will be arriving here in the north Georgia mountains with the predicted temps getting town into the 30’s later this week.  We awoke to 45 degrees this am, and thankfully above the point where our heat pumps quit working.

After such a wonderful day Friday with the elk, Saturday it rained most of the day.  We hunkered down at home, except for a few short golf cart rides and a trip into town for a look at the Moving Viet Nam Wall.  It’s half the size of the original one in DC, but it was pretty impressive nonetheless.

We have tried to see it for years, but we’ve always missed it for one reason or another.  If you are interested in seeing it, the link to the remainder of the 2015 schedule is here.  It travels each year from April through November.

Al and I met on the island of Guam while our fathers were stationed at Anderson Air Force Base, during the height of the Viet Nam War.  Guam was an important base for the military and most every day, we saw camouflaged  B-52 aircraft taking off and landing on our tiny island.   We also very frequently saw big trucks loaded with bombs, also in camouflaged paint.  Guam was also a place for the military for their R & R.  Both of our fathers jobs were heavily involved in the war efforts, but I suppose pretty much anybody stationed there at the time was as well.

It was always a startling reminder of the nearby war when you saw truck loads of bombs. Regardless of what you thought of the war then or what you think of it now, it was an important part of our history and a lot of people died there.  I’m sure most of growing up in the 60s had friends or family who went to Viet Nam. 

We waited for the rain to slow down and then went into town to see the wall. 

We waded  through a very wet field and went over to the very moving display.



There are names of dating back to 1957 when 3 military advisors were killed and they included the 58,300 names listed on the wall, which include 8 women.   It’s a moving experience.

There were people there with computers to look up any name you gave them and would tell you where on the wall to look for their name. 

There were a lot of Viet Nam Vets there visiting and also helping out.  Several left hats and other memorials.

Out of respect, I didn’t take pictures while we were walking by. 



I am way behind on my blogging.  We had another interesting experience experience a few days after this. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Change in Plans, Led to a Wonderful Surprise


Blairsville, Ga (high 72, low 48) 

We decided to take a drive to check out the fall foliage and we heard the drive from Franklin to Cherokee, North Carolina was pretty nice.

We left Blairsville, going through Track Rock and Hayesville, NC and drove Hwy 64 towards Franklin, NC.  It was a beautiful drive.

The prettiest colors were before between Blairsville and Franklin, NC.  Once we got into the Great Smoky National Park, we saw less fall color.

It wasn’t at peak fall color, but it’s getting there.


Fall foliage


Fall foliage


Fall foliage

It was a beautiful drive.

Fall foliage

Hopefully we will be able to stay long enough to see the peak fall season.


It got a little cloudy at times, but we love the way the clouds look when they sit on the tops of the mountains.


The road between Franklin and Cherokee was not as colorful.

The Blue Ridge Parkway starts in Cherokee, NC and our plan was to drive it for a while to get a feel for the fall colors there.  We missed the visitor center and had to turn around because we needed a bathroom break.  The foliage wasn’t real pretty on the Blue Ridge just yet. We only got a few miles on the BRP, but it turned out to be a good thing.

We ended up at the Ocanaluftee Visitor Center which is one of the entrances to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park,  but not right on the BRP,  We  were sure glad we did.


We knew there were a herd of Elk somewhere in Cherokee, but we figured it would be somewhere off the beaten path and our plan was to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and not look for elk.

As we walked up to the visitor center, we noticed these signs.


We asked one of the Rangers where we could see the elk herd and she said they can sometimes be seen in these fields right by the visitor center, which is just off highway 441.

There were no elk to be seen and we didn’t expect to see any there except during the normal feeding times in the early morning or  late afternoon. 

At the visitor center there is an old farmstead as well as some trails along the river. We took a walk over to the farmstead which is past the big field where the above sign is located.

Fall foliage Franklin to Cherokee, visitor center, elk

The farmstead was pretty interesting, but this huge old tree, which I assumed was a chestnut tree, was probably the most spectacular thing there.

We thought the tree stump should have had some sort of marker at least because of the size of it, if nothing else.

It made me sad.

Chestnut tree

The kids were enjoying the river. I wasn’t sure they should have been playing there but the river was shallow and slow moving, so I guess they wouldn’t have drowned if they had fallen in.   I need to keep reminding myself, not my circus, not my monkeys.  :)


The views were pretty spectacular.

Fall foliage Franklin to Cherokee


Fall foliage Franklin to Cherokee, visitor center, elk

You could look into the buildings, but not enter.

I always notice in these old houses, how they only have useful and necessary items, unlike all the stuff we tend to accumulate nowadays.




The next picture was taken inside the meat house where they smoked and salted mostly pork.  I swear I smelled country ham when I looked inside.


As we walked down the trail, Al noticed something in the far edge of the field.  After zooming in with my camera, I could tell is was a female elk.


Also in the field were several woodchucks.


I took way too many pictures of them, but these are not something we see in Florida.



The ranger told us the bull elk sometimes led the heard over to a nearby school, so we drove over to what we initially thought was a school.

We saw no elk but there was a pretty good size flock of very large and healthy looking turkey.


Apparently, they get plenty to eat because they were all pretty large.




After searching unsuccessfully for elk, we decided to head home and turned back towards the visitor center. We saw a traffic jam along hwy 441 and assumed there must have been a wildlife spotting.

We were right.  That is the same field where we saw the single elk but this time the entire herd was grazing in the field.  



We parked,  walked as close as was allowed and zoomed the camera in and this is what we saw.

You can see how close they are to the road. I didn’t like that.


Elk roamed freely in this area 200 years ago, but were overhunted and none remained.

In 2001 they reintroduced another small herd to an area nearby and shortly afterwards this herd here in Cherokee.  According to the ranger, there are 32 elk in this herd.  We noticed quite a few juveniles, so I guess they are doing well.  They all appeared to be plenty fat and healthy looking.

This youngster still had his spots.  He spotted a wood chuck and walked over to check it out.  The wood chuck saw him coming and went into his hole.

It was kind of cute.





This guy looks pretty young.   Calving season is in May and June, so next year, we might need to visit earlier in the year.



The rangers were all around keeping people from getting too close to the herd.  They have been known to charge or stick their heads into open car windows.  They tell you if you have a dog with you while walking,and an elk approaches you to let go of the dog leash.  Yeah right!  I don’t know of too many people who would let their dogs loose.


Apparently there is one bull elk in charge.  There were some young males on the outskirts but the head guy kept running them back into the woods.  :)

It didn’t take long to spot the guy in charge.




Isn’t he spectacular?  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of him.






bull elk

It turned out to be a spectacular day and we’re sure glad we went to the visitor center instead of a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We went home via Hwy 74 and through the Nantahala Gorge.  It wasn’t as pretty of ride as Hwy 64 which is the way we came.

It rained all day Saturday, so we stayed home except for a short visit into town to see something I had wanted to see for many, many years. 

More on that later…….