Monday, May 28, 2018

Yak Attack

Well, we FINALLY bought a couple kayaks.  I have no idea why it took us so long, but it did.  And now we have 2 and I am thrilled! 

We still need some stuff, most notably a carrier for them.  Right now I am hauling them laying on a blanket tarp strapped to the roof rack rails.  That's not the perfect solution I had envisioned.  They bounce a little in the wind and tend to move enough that when we loosen the strap, they slide off the side of the van instead of waiting to be pulled off the back.  So we need a better solution.  I only have rails, I don't have crossbars, so those J-hooks for the kayak to lean against will not work.  I'm open to suggestions.

For our maiden voyage, we went to Wheeler and put in at one of the many boat ramps they have.  We paddled around for a couple of hours, then headed for home when the clouds started gathering. 

The next day, Gina asked if we wanted to go again, and we did.  We met back up at the same spot because she had stalked me and saw us the day before.  That made it easier to plan anyway.

We arrived only barely late (Matt can only get to work on time, everything else-time is a suggestion.)   

Gina was already there and had bought...the exact same kayak we had and in the exact same color.  STALKER. 

Or, it might have been the really good kayak sales going on for Memorial Day.  3 other friends also got 'yaks this past weekend. No clue if they are as awesome as ours, but I'll plan a float day soon and scope it out.

The launch was successful!

We had to get boats, paddles, life jackets...mine is purple, of course.

Next day:

I love cypress trees!

Gina yelled that a rattlesnake was going to fall on me. 
For anyone who has NOT seen the update on that story, the snake did not fall from the tree, it was swimming along, the man thought it was an alligator and yanked it up out of the water and proceeded to agitate it until it bit him.

We discussed how nearly all reported snake bites are males bitten on the upper torso, arms, or face.  Here's a tip-don't pick up a snake.  Just leave them to it and get on with your day.  If you have to set down a beer first, that goes double.  

I liked the swampy feel of this spot.

Caught this osprey bringing in a fish for the (giant) chick in the nest.  It even shredded it up for the baby.  (blurgh)

And, the best part of having kayaks, chillin' out on the water with friends.

We paddled nearly 4 miles this trip, just tooling around the backwaters of the Tennessee River.  I'm hoping for huge gains in the arm strength sector.  So far, I just have a blister on my thumb.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Friendly Weekend

I socialized twice this weekend, though with the same people both days.  

Amanda has been working and back in school and our time together the last few months has been quick texts at 2 a.m., occasional things our kids are at but not one of the other of us, and the infrequent afternoon chat via phone or messenger when she is supposed to be studying.  Once, she wrote an entire paper while chatting with me.  I think I may have managed to refill my water bottle during that same time frame.  

Katy has been up to her neck in soccer and swimming is about to get started again for both families, and though soccer ended just this past week, tryouts for the next season are tonight!  With our older kids getting older, our hang out time has become precious!  Alex and Emma are working this summer and so is Elan, Chandler and Ben are looking for jobs and Ben has music 3 times a week, Jake is at work 10 hours a day most days and Rho has already moved out.  

They, along with Gina and kids, all made it to what was supposed to have been Ben's last concert on Tuesday night (he's since been asked to do a solo performance next month and then the director asked him to stay on with the jazz band through the end of the year).  I think he did great!  Afterward, Gina had to head home (it did run a full hour over...) and our three families went to eat.  

I won't get into THAT fiasco, other than to say that Logan's Roadhouse tried to charge me $10 for a GRILLED CHEESE sandwich and a handful of soggy, cold fries.  They said they had no idea how to ring it up.  IT'S ON THE MENU.  I didn't make up a newfangled food, I just wasn't very hungry and it was after 9, a burger sounded about the same as eating cement and I didn't want to risk whatever might pass as a salad the last 45 minutes the place was open.  Anyway, some 30 minutes later, after they changed my ticket from 'club sandwich' to 'fried pickles', we left.  I won't be back.  It involved 3 of the wait staff AND the manager and was just short of rocket science to not charge $10 for 2 pieces of bread and a slice of cheese.  It wasn't even buttered.  Birdie ate the SAME THING and it was $5.  And that included his drink.

We enjoyed hanging out so much (despite the billing incompetence) that weekend plans were quickly changed around and Katy and family opted to camp on the lake and we met up Saturday for a couple miles of hiking topped off with a couple of hours of hanging in hammocks, chatting and snoozing topped off with dinner at a Mexican place that was super yummy.   A multitude of woes can be remedied with hot cheese dip. 

Sunday, we met up at Amanda's and swam for a long time, then Sammy's mom and dad took us all out on the pontoon near sunset, a thing I always enjoy.  Back at the house, we ate dip-based snacks and grilled and had a very eclectic variety of things.  Hot dogs and sausages, pilaf, baked beans, mac and beef... Everything was great, seasoned with copious amounts of earlier sun and lake water and shoveled in between loud board games, dancing children, dads sipping whiskey and talking music, moms plotting the next gathering, dogs splayed all over the deck.  Mosquitoes attacking everyone but me...

she jumped, I just missed it!

Ben jumped!  First time!

The boat limit was 14 and we had 17!  So Elan rode beside us and swapped passengers around to keep us legal.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


one of 6 bears we saw the first day

Hike to Rainbow Falls off Roaring Fork Motor Trail
2.7 miles one way, elevation gain of 1700 feet

painted trillium


Guess: sedge


catesbys trillium

jack in the pulpit


squirrel corn

Rainbow Falls

sweet white trillium

stiff clubmoss

ghost tree


very calm turkey

Drive to Sugarlands Visitor Center and walk on the nature trail there:

yellow trillium

dwarf bearded iris

sweet shrub


lily of the valley bush

yellow trillium

daisy fleabane

cataract falls



Alpine coaster, going up to the top.
Much fun, recommend

Cades Cove:

Bears.  There were 5 in this group and 4 more in the second group we saw later.
We planned to hike, but Matt had to head home at a certain time and we were caught in a bear jam upon entering the loop.  It took nearly 2 hours to go the first 3 miles of the loop.
A second, smaller one caught us on the other side going back out.  So we spent about 5 hours at Cades Cove, most of it in the van.  :/

heart of pine

foothills parkway

Max Patch:

Chandler's favorite thing in the mountains are the balds.  We try to get to a new one on each visit.

trout lily

Sketching the views

I came on this trip

Following the AT for a while

We had to head home Tuesday due to prior obligations. 
I really wish we could have stayed longer.

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.