Tag Archives: Tennessee Vacation

Day 7 – Mingo Falls

Friday was chill day. With slow Wi-Fi and no cell service, we just chilled at Yogi. Saturday we head back to Blue Ridge to resume our work tending the llamas. OK, we did not chill the entire day. 

We went to Peter’s Pancakes and Waffles in Cherokee for breakfast. The place was pretty busy so our order was a bit slow coming out. The staff was apologetic about that. Next we went into a couple of the local shops that sold Indian items. Said to say that pretty much all of it was made in China or India. I am sure there may be some stores that sell authentic Indian crafts.

Cherokee is somewhat touristy just like Pigeon Forge. I could not help but think of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows. I can understand having historical and cultural events that are educational. When these events turn commercial, then I want to stay away.

After breakfast, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials for tonight’s grilling activity. (More on that later.) Then on the way back, we stopped at Mingo Falls for a photo shot. Carol stayed in the truck while I trekked on. First there was a climb of about 150 steps.
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Then at the top, there is a short hike to a bridge that allows a full view of the falls.
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At 120 feet, Mingo Falls is the largest falls on the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The flow in these photos is not the best but it give you an idea of the fall.
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I experimented with a technique that give the water flow a soft cotton look. The next two photos are of the same spot on the falls. First one is shot in auto mode, second is shot with an extended shutter time.

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Here are another pair showing the effect.

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Our new friends Marilyn and Alan McMillan (BlessOurVoyage-Travels of the McMillan’s Travels) came over Friday evening to join us for grilled chicken. Actually it was foil pouch chicken placed on the grill. We had beautiful weather this evening for the fellowship meal. It was so cool to enjoy a meal out doors with our friends.

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The day is drawing to a close and we are soon to say, “See ya down the road” to our new friends. We pray for their safety as they continue their work at Yogi in the Smokies and pray for their safety when they depart from here at the end of summer.
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Thanks for stopping by.

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Day 6 – What A Drive

Today we left Piney Flats and my friend Becky. We drove to Johnson City, TN to get our Starbucks to go. It was a beautiful day for a drive over the mountains. We hit I-26 about 11:00 AM.
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We climbed up from 1600 feet in Erwin, TN to 3760 feet at Sam’s Gap. On the North Carolina side of Sam’s Gap we saw three run away truck ramps. We did not encounter anything greater then 6% grades going up or down.
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Asheville was a bit congested. Loop 240, and I-40 were not nearly as nice as I-26. We  arrived at Yogi in the Smokies at 2PM. We were created by Yogi Bear himself.

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After registration, we got set up, then took a short nap. Our site backs up to the Raven Fork River.We met up with Alan and Marilyn from BlessOurVoyage – Tales of the McMillian’s Travels who are workamping here. We enjoyed dinner at Paul’s in Cherokee.

Friday, Carol and I will rest up a bit. I may take a short hike to Mingo Falls then veg by the pool. Later in the evening I’ll fire up the grill and treat Alan and Marilyn to some good Texas style chicken. We may just finish of the evening with a campfire.

Thanks for stopping by.

Day 5 – Mountain Top Experience

Our friend Becky picked us up this morning around 10ish for the trip to the top of Roan Mountain (elevation 6,250 feet). First stop was Elk Falls in Elk Park, NC. Remember we are in the Northeastern tip of Tennessee which is just a few minutes away from North Carolina. This water fall can be viewed from three positions.

The top. (Don’t worry kids – Mom is doing just fine.)

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The middle.

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The bottom.

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Well, I did not go down to the bottom but there is a bottom. I even got a shot at Carol back at the top.
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And then a stranger took this group shot of Carol and I with Becky.
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We had a cool time there but it was time to move on. Next stop was Roan Mountain. We stop for lunch at the top before trekking off to the world’s largest natural rhododendron garden. The park had a beautiful picnic area positioned very near the garden.
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After our picnic lunch, we headed out for the garden. We found a small overlook spot that had this incredible view of the mountains and valleys below. Carol shot this short panoramic video for your enjoyment. At the end of the video, notice the tree growth. You can easily tell the direction of the prevailing winds.

The park service has a beautiful wide concrete trail that guides you through the garden. The best view was at the overlook. The view is just amazing. The rhododendron are in full bloom and the bees are busy.

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On the way out I saw people looking at the little flower. Being so small, I thought a closeup would be best. Say hello to the Roan Mountain Bluet.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed this plants threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
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It was time to come down off the mountain. Becky brought us back to the RV where we had a short rest. Then she and Kevin pickup us up at the RV Park’s boat dock.

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We then took a scenic ride down the South Fork Holston River on our way to Boone Lake Marina for dinner.

After dinner, Becky then drove us back to our RV where we started getting ready for our trip to Cherokee, NC on Thursday. As our time closes on this leg of our vacation, I want to say Thank You to my friend and former boss Becky.

Thanks for stopping by.

Day 4 – Bays Mountain, South Holston Dam

Tuesday’s adventure began at Bays Mountain Park. This is a 3500 acre nature preserve located near Kingsport in Northeastern Tennessee. The park is a natural habitat for birds and animals common to the area. While there we saw this Black Vulture and white deer.
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We also saw wolves, bobcats and various owls but was unable to get any descent photos. Note to self – this would be a cool place to work.

Adjacent to the park is the Eastman Recreation area.  Last year, I had conversation the director of Bays Mountain Park about workamping here. At that time,  he said we would be working at Eastman. We could not make the timing work out so we had to let that gig go.  I plan to contact him again for future opportunities.

It was enjoyable to be a passenger today. Our friend Becky was the driver and tour guide. Becky and I worked at Driscoll Children’s Hospital for a number of years. Here we are enjoying lunch at a good Mexican food restaurant.
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Following lunch we drove over to Boone Lake Dam. The walking path over the dam was closed so I could not get a close up photo. Becky and Kevin live on Boone Lake.  Boone Lake was named after Daniel Boone who spent time in the area during the 1760’s.

We came back to our RV for a rest.  After a short nap, Carol and I ventured out to see South Holston Dam. On the way we passed by the Bristol Motor Speedway.  Our RV spot is about 5 minutes from the speedway. So for our racing enthusiasts –
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We made our way to South Holston Dam. The outflow of this dam feeds Boone Lake. Ultimately the water makes its way to the Tennessee River. This photo is from the bottom of the dam.
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Then a view from the top.

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This view is from the center of the dam looking at South Holston Lake.

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And this view is looking back down at the outflow side of the dam.
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The outflow side was quiet interesting. The cold water from the bottom of the lake mixing with the warm ambient area created a fog effect over the outflow.
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Further downstream, we found an impressive 6 channel weir that was designed to oxygenate the water.

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Another view – up close. This was pretty impressive.
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That’s for our Tuesday adventure. Wednesday we are headed into the mountains to check out a couple of water falls. Thanks for stopping by.

Day 3 – Short Drive

We left campground after having breakfast at Mel’s Diner then got our on-the-road Starbucks.
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We departed the Pigeon Forge area Monday around 10 AM under cloudy skies that looked like rain and 67 degree weather. Theme parks are already open and families are waiting at the Fun Trolly stops. There is an amazing change in the traffic today in comparison to our arrival on Saturday.
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The drive from Pigeon Forge to northeastern Tennessee (I-40, then I-81) was an easy 105 miles on smooth interstate highways. Traffic was light to moderate, weather cooperated, and the scenery was great.
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Our site at Lakeview RV Park is at the back of the property close to the South Fork of the Holston River. You can see the river through the trees from the back of our site. The park is built on the side of a hill so the sites are tiered from top to bottom. There are two park hosts here. Roads are will maintained and wide.
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After arrival, setup, cleanup and a short rest. Carol and I took off for our friends Becky and Kevin Allsop who live on Boone Lake in Piney Flats about 5 miles south of here. GPS took us right their front door. Becky and I worked together at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi. She was the IT director who hired me as a computer trainer. We had a great time reminiscing over old times. Tuesday and Wednesday, they are showing us around the area. Becky is showing Carol how to use Pinterest on Facebook.
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That’s it for today. Thanks for stopping by.