Sunday, September 25, 2016

Elk in North Carolina, Sunflowers, Pumpkins and COLD Front


Blairsville, Ga  (high 86, low 62)


It’s been a particularly warm summer this year and the north Georgia mountains are no exception. At least it’s not as miserable and sticky as it is in Florida. 

It looks like a cold front is coming this week with lows predicted to be in the upper 40’s.  Burrr.   I’m not looking forward to that.  We don’t have a heat pump or dual pane windows on the Cameo like we do on the motorhome, so it will be harder to stay warm.    The highs are predicted to be low 70’s, so we will enjoy that.

We finally decided to take a couple trips and see some sights.  What started out as a trip to get a 48v bulb for the golf cart tail light, ended up with us up in Cherokee, North Carolina at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.   It’s one of the four visitor centers in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

We wanted to go see the herd of wild elk.  Yes, there are elk in this area but it wasn’t always so.

“ Elk once roamed the southern Appalachian mountains and elsewhere in the eastern United States. They were eliminated from the region by over-hunting and loss of habitat. The last elk in North Carolina was believed to have been killed in the late 1700s. In Tennessee, the last elk was killed in the mid-1800s. By 1900, the population of elk in North America dropped to the point that hunting groups and other conservation organizations became concerned the species was headed for extinction.

Reintroduction of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 2001 when 25 elk were brought from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, the park imported another 27 animals.”

We arrived there during the hot part of the day and not the best time to see them.  When we drove up, there was a ranger vehicle parked along side of the road, with warning signs so we thought for sure the herd was in the field.



We were disappointed to find nothing but a few wood chucks.

Woodchuck at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


There is a trail and Mountain Farm Museum which winds around the field where the elk graze. 

Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


The river winds alongside the village.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


We took a walk in the shade along the river and came across a young bull elk on the other side of the river.

Young bull elk at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


Apparently, he wanted to cross the river and come over to where we were standing.  We backed up to allow him to cross and soon we saw another young elk.

Young bull elk at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC

He wasn’t the most handsome fellow, was he?

Young bull elk at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


I don’t know if he lost his antlers in a fight, or if he is starting to shed them.  They shed their antlers every winter, so maybe that was it.


Young bull elk at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


I liked this next picture that the reflection on the water showed his face better than the actual photo of his face.

Young bull elk at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


We stayed around awhile until it became apparent we were keeping them from going where they wanted to go.  We were a little hesitant to go back down the trail because we didn’t want them following behind us with those big pointy antlers.   They didn’t.


Young bull elk at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC

We never saw the main herd. The head guy in charge has a much larger rack and he seems to keep the other males away from his herd.  When we were there last year, we saw him chasing the young male back into the woods.  I’m assuming nothing has changed there.

We took a drive around the area looking for the big turkey.  Baxter loves turkey feathers and he is in need of a replacement.   Other feathers just don’t do the job like a big tail feather from a turkey. We found turkey, but no feathers. I think I’m going to have to go on Amazon in search of a turkey feather.    Smile


Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Cherokee, NC


Yesterday, we took a drive over to Dawsonville, GA for the opening of the sunflower fields and the Pumpkin patch.


First stop was Fausett Farms and Horse Trails.  They have 13+ acres of sunflowers planted and it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon. We should have waited until later in the week when the cold front came because it was HOT there yesterday.





There were sunflowers everywhere.

Sunflowers at Faucettes


Rows and rows of sunflowers.







For $5 a person you could take what turned out to be a very short mule train ride. I’m glad we passed on that since it didn’t take you anywhere you couldn’t easily have walked on your own.






Al was hiding in the sunflowers.




This sunflower field is near Amicalola Falls State Park, which is where the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail starts.  There are some lovely waterfalls there with some great hikes (one all the way to Maine) but it was too hot so we didn’t stop.

Instead, we went to Burts Pumpkin Farm.  It’s always kind of fun to see all the pumpkins and gourds.




Burts Pumpkin Farm


Burts Pumpkin Farm


There are some big pumpkins there.  I saw one with an $84 price tag.  

Burts Pumpkin Farm


They have a gift shop and sell home made goodies, mostly of the pumpkin variety.  It sure smelled good walking around the grounds.

Burts Pumpkin Farm


We love this area because everywhere we go anywhere, there is beautiful scenery.  The drive home was no exception. I rarely leave my camera at home.





We had a friend waiting for us when we got home. 



Sure wish I could find these kittens a home.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Setting Up New RV, Gas Shortage, Homeless Kittens, & Chicken Poop


Blairsville, GA  (high 82, low 60)


We’ve been so busy setting up the new to us fifth wheel, that we haven’t had much time for fun.  The Cameo we bought was used, so it needs a lot of routine maintenance. Al has been trying to inspect and re-caulk all the seams and openings around the windows, doors and such.  It’s not made like the motorhome and seems to need a lot more upkeep.

We always seal the roof openings with Eternabond tape instead of Dicor caulk.  That way you do it once and don't’ have to worry about it again.  Al is working on that between other projects.

We’re working on making the Cameo feel like home and there seems to be an endless list of things we need to purchase.  Little things like kitchen items, storage shelves and bins, hooks and all those types of things you find helpful.  We seem to find the need to run to Walmart or Home Depot about every day for one thing or another and Amazon has been our friend.

We have an RV gas oven for the first time in years and we LOVE it.   My convection on the motorhome just didn’t work well for home made pizza and we’ve missed having it.  The gas oven in the Cameo works great….once you get the darn thing to light.  My first pizza attempt was a failure.  It turns out I killed the yeast when the water I added was too hot. I was always envious of the wonderful pizzas David and Sherry made and now we can have them too!   Smile


You may have heard about the gas pipeline in Alabama that broke causing a fuel spill and subsequent shortage to 5 south eastern states….Georgia included.   It’s been going on about a week now. We’ve had to watch our fuel usage lately.  The gas stations in town have been mostly out of gas and there have been long lines and very little gas available. It seems to be getting better finally. 

In the meantime, we discovered some homeless kittens and a mama cat across the street.  It seems some dumbass had mice and figured an unspayed female cat was the answer. Of course she had kittens and as it turned out she is pregnant again. 

We tried to ignore the situation because we really don’t need any more cats.  The problem with ignoring it (which is what everybody else did) is that in a year we could have a hundred feral cats around the RV park.  We camped at a state park in Georgia many years ago and there were hundreds of feral cats and kittens.  Mostly kittens.  All the suffering was heartbreaking.

So……   I got online and located a local lady who found homes for kittens.  She agreed to take the mama cat provided we took her to the vet to check out and confirm she was healthy and pregnant.  She was both.  Nancy took her and will find a home for her and her kittens when she has them.

The other two kittens she had were older and Nancy didn’t want to take them.  I couldn’t blame here because she had a LOT of kittens. 

We found a place in nearby Murphy, NC that would neuter them and give them a rabies shot for $30 each, so we have an appointment for the on October 5th.

In the meantime, of course we had to start feeding them and now they don’t leave our site unless the neighbor dog chases them up a tree.

I’m trying to find them homes, but without much success.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying watching them play.  I know, I know…..that’s not a good sign.

This is a male.  He’s the friendliest of the two. He met Baxter thru the screen door this morning and they got along surprisingly.  No hissing or spitting, which was a shock.



This is the female. When she met Baxter thru the screen door she hissed and spit….much more typical behavior when cats first meet.  Isn’t she pretty?


When it rained the other day, we closed up the golf cart and made them a bed on the seat.  They are pretty smart and got right in the cart.  Our cats wouldn’t have the sense to get out of the rain.  Smile  They have never been rained on.



They decided to use my planter to do their business, so I put out a kitty pan for them and darned if one of them didn’t use it overnight.  Cats are so smart about using a kitty pan.  I’d rather scoop the pan than have cat poop in my plants!

So, between worrying about Mom, and getting a new household set up, we have kittens to deal with.   Sad smile   If anybody knows someone who might want a kitten, we will deliver.  Seriously…..we will deliver to a reasonably close area within a days drive.  


Since the Fifth Wheel will be permanent here, we had steps built.  One thing I always hated about Fifth Wheels was their flimsy steps.   Problem solved.  I love these steps.  We have to wait for the wood to dry before we can stain them. 

Cameo steps and kittens


We did manage to sneak in one short hike the other day at nearby Vogel State Park.  I think it might be the oldest state park in Georgie.  It’s lovely.



The dogwoods are starting to change color.



We’ve had a drought all summer so the waterfall wasn’t as nice as usual.



We’ve taken golf cart rides every night. We haven’t seen any bears yet, but we keep looking.





Golf cart rides around Rivers Edge turkey


Golf cart rides around Rivers Edge




Deer and fawn on golf cart ride rivers edge




And last, but not least.  Chicken poop.   See the truck in the field on the right side of the picture?  That is a truck spreading chicken poop in the field.  Apparently it makes great fertilizer. The smell is terrible!   Its been cool at night and we like to keep the windows open, but depending on which way the wind is blowing, it can get a little stinky.  We’re anxious for some rain!   Smile