Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deal's Gap and Cherohala Skyway

Monday was a work day again at the office, and I'm training another lady, Pam.  Gary had to run over to the hospital for a shot of Nupogen to get those white cells pumping again.  It was a beautiful day and promised to be even more beautiful Tuesday, so we made plans to do the Dragon Tail again with Donna and Ron, but with Ron driving his Chevy diesel dually.  We packed a picnic lunch not sure if we'd want to stop at the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort or carry on down the road to Robbinsville.  It was a gorgeous drive, and we stopped so many times to take photos.  Entering the Foothills Parkway the first pullover had a group of vehicles and people moving wooden platforms and camera equipment.  Obviously showing off the Smokies to the public unlucky enough not to see it in person. 

A guard rail decorated with decals. 

The mountains are now a tapestry of golds, greens and browns. Every corner we turned produced a more beautiful scene.  We finally made it down to Deal's Gap after twisting and turning all the way  around 318 curves in 11 miles.  Here we are in the picnic area enjoying our lunch.

Gary traded his shirt again and I did say this would be the last time visiting Deal's Gap.  He agreed.  It was fun to see the Tree of Shame and the T-shirt ceiling in the grill again.  We probably won't forget this ride ever.

After shopping a bit, we headed toward Robbinsville where we were going to take a right onto the Cherohala Scenic Skyway through the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness area.  Joyce Kilmer is remembered most for a short poem entitled "Trees" (I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree...).  And he was born about 20 minutes from where I was born in Plainfield, NJ.

The Cherohala Skyway was completed in 1996 after being under construction for some thirty-four years. It is North Carolina's most expensive highway carrying a pricetag of $100,000,000. Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee, the road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name 'Chero...hala'.

We're beginning the climb.  And then there was another turn-out with a platform to climb to.  The driver (Ron) and front-seat passenger (Gary) bring up the rear.

We keep climbing toward the very top, ears popping and voices ooohing and aaahhing all the way up to the final sign:

This little sign says:  Big Junction:  Elevation 5235 feet.  Almost a mile!  And there were hardly any trees up here, but the ones that were had no leaves at all.  Nekkid.  On our way down the mountain, the trees were again dressed up and with the brilliant blue sky were absolutely breathtaking.

I wish I had had my good camera with me.  But these photos were taken with our Kodak Playsport.  Not as good as my Canon Rebel xTi, however, not too shabby. 

If you ever get a chance to see the Smokies in fall, you will understand why people come from hundreds of miles away for the views.  They are spectacular.

Monday, while I was working, Donna and Ron drove to Knoxville to pickup their new home entertainment system.  They spent all morning moving shelves and pulling out the broken one to make room for the new set.  But they got tired of all the boxes and wires everywhere, and needed to find a Radio Shack for a cable.  We also went to Walmart, and JoAnne's for Donna to pick up some sample fabrics to redo her window treatments.  We found some pretty ones and headed home.  Ron and Gary got busy with wires and cables, and Donna and I were pinning different combinations of fabrics all over the windows.  So much fun.  Before we knew it, dinnertime was nearing 8 pm, so the boys ran over to the Shell station for some pizza.  Capelli's pizza started at 4.99 for a pie (just cheese, of course), but we put on a few toppings, and that baby was GOOD.  (or we could have just been starving).  We called it quits until tomorrow, but most of the hard work was done.

Today (Thursday) the weather was supposed to change from cloudless and 76 to rainy and 54.  For once, unfortunately, the weatherman was correct.  It was definitely a chili dinner day, so Donna and I got over to Walmart again to pick up ingredients, while the boys worked on finishing the connections.  We also stopped at the Corelleware Outlet to see if I could get a couple more dinner plates to match my set.  No luck.  We got home in the rain to find the boys had succeeded and now we had dinner music and the World Series (Cardinals and Rangers) with Donna's white chili and chocolate chip turtle cookies.  With that, we rolled home between the drops. 

 Life is good.

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