If you give up your life - or any part of it - for the sake of Christ, He always finds ways to give it back to you.

"...I have come that they might have life, and that they have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gold Head Branch State Park

My RV forum friend Nan and I camped here for the weekend so we could plan for the January get-together of forum members. Here are our side-by-side sites:
The campground is situated next to what is left of Big Lake Johnson and Little Lake Johnson.
These cabins are beside Little Lake Johnson.
I noticed there wasn't much water in the lake.
I walked to the boat ramp on the Big Lake to see if it would be a good place to launch my kayak. This sign explained the water levels. Nan told me that much of the water that once filled these lakes was diverted to South Florida.
The boat ramp...don't think I'll be launching here.
They still rent canoes for use on the Little Lake.
These folks were out in a rowboat.
But had some trouble coming back in...
The swimming beach on Little Lake Johnson.
Sign by the swimming area...
Roe and I took one of the hiking trails in the park. This one follows the Florida Scenic Trail for a ways.
Some bending required...
In the early 1900s a mill once operated along Gold Head Branch. It operated a sawmill, a cotton gin and a grist mill.
Located where this bridge crosses Gold Head Branch, I learned that one of the oldest churches in the region, Gadara Baptist, organized in 1876, met at the mill after their log structure burned. During dry weather members could get to church without any problems, but in wet weather they would have to walk through mud and slush, and cross a log bridge to reach the old mill.
Far from comfortable, the old mill was windowless and had huge cracks in the floor. Many of the young children entertained themselves through long services by watching fish swim in the water underneath.
Perhaps this concrete was part of the old mill.
Sign at the parking area.
A white-tail deer on the didn't stick around long enough to zoom for another picture.
Picnic area
One of Florida's first state parks, Gold Head Branch was built by the CCC and became a park in 1935.
Look who was meeting here today. Forum friend Alice would have enjoyed this.
Some of the things people do that puts nature out of balance.
You can see the original water tower to the left of the sign through the trees.
We followed the paved campground road back to our campsite.
The bright Florida sun in a cloudless blue sky.
Tomorrow we'll explore another part of the park...the ravine and the headsprings of Gold Head Branch.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pigeon Forge Thanksgiving

We left my daughter's house in GA on Tuesday morning and headed up through peach country.
SC peach orchard
Friends in front

Granddaughter (on right) and friend
Caught in the rain: friend & son-in-law get the luggage in.
Last bit of fall here
Pigeon Forge, TN: on the road to our cabin
Rented cabin

After unloading.
Checking out the weather: rain
First things first... at least the rain stopped
Moonrise over the cabin Tuesday night
Waning moon...
Daughter & son-in-law enjoying the hot tub on the deck.
Next morning...after the rain

Wednesday morning we visited Cades Cove. Here's our group at the John Oliver cabin. He was Cades Cove's first permanent white settler.
There are 3 churches still standing in Cades Cove.
The cemetery is the resting place of many early residents.
Including John Oliver & family.
Inside the Primitive Baptist Church. This church closed during the Civil War because parishioners were Union sympathizers, while most Cades Cove residents were on the other side.
The Methodist church...built with 2 doors because traditionally men sat on one side, and women on the other. However, this congregation did not practice that tradition.
This church split from the other Baptist Church over divisions concerning missions.
A song & devotional service was taking place inside when we arrived.

A half-mile walk through the woods to the Stuart Oliver cabin. Stuart was a son of John Oliver.
Saw several deer along the way.
Everyone was fascinated with opening and closing that door.
Here's why:

The mill near the Visitor Center...they were grinding corn, and fresh corn meal was for sale.
After lunch, my daughter and I climbed to the top of the hill behind our cabin. There are a lot of cabins up there, and therefore not so many woods. Nice views though.
A little bird.
Late afternoon, early evening, some of us went to the Titanic Exhibit in Pigeon Forge. No pictures allowed inside, but here are a couple of the outside.
Mother & daughter. The exhibit is wonderful. You get a real-life, hands-on experience of the last few hours of the Titanic. Your "boarding pass" tells you about your of the passengers. You have to wait until the last room to learn your fate, but there are clues along the way. There are many artifacts from the ship, and to scale recreations of parts, such as the Grand Staircase and Third-class living quarters.
One of the many wedding chapels in Pigeon Forge.
This moving light display covered the hillside above the main street.
Along the median were light depictions of the 12 Days of Christmas. Here are the "4 Calling Birds."
We went to the 8:30 Dixie Stampede Dinner Show, "Smoky Mountain Christmas." It was wonderful...unfortunately, I didn't have my camera. They don't allow photos during the show, but found out I could have taken some inside before & after the show. Oh well.

What? I never took a picture of all the food we ate on know what it was.

Friday morning my daughter & I wanted to go hiking. Everyone else went shopping. We did stop at this shop before heading to the mountains.
I enjoyed watching and smelling them making apple butter.
We decided to hike to the top of Clingmans Dome. This hen turkey was being very brave the day after Thanksgiving.
View from the parking area. The beautiful weather of yesterday had turned very blustery.
You can click on the picture to make it bigger & easier to read.
How cold was it?
I had to loan my hat to my daughter.
Info about Clingmans Dome: (Note..."Be prepared for cooler temperatures and wind.")
We weren't the only ones braving the cold for this experience.
The Appalachian Trail goes across the ridge of the mountain.
Looking down the Appalachian Trail. We only went about 50 feet to get this photo.
The observation tower at the top of Clingmans Dome.
Views from the top:
We didn't stay fingers were getting numb.
That's ice:
Going back can see the parking lot.
A couple more views
We weren't done hiking yet though. Partway down we found this nature trail through what resembled a Rain Forest.
Lightning struck this tree
A dark tunnel under the canopy.
What looks like snow is actually white marble.
Daughter stands by the roots of an overturned tree.
New trees growing up from the side of an overturned tree.
Fungi and mosses
We stopped at some other trailheads, but it was too cold and too late in the day to hike any more. Know they are there for another time, though.
Our last evening at the cabin the kids entertained us with a replay of one of the funnier acts from the Dixie Stampede show.
Saturday morning on deck just before leaving. The sun was in our eyes.
Happy Thanksgiving
One last view from the deck.
Back through the peach orchards and pecan home we went.