Thursday, November 20, 2014

EXPLORING THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS

Sunday 16/11/14
This morning, after another huge breakfast of oatmeal, pancakes and Danish, we left on a car tour of the Smoky Mts. We travelled across the Smoky Mt National Park and into North Carolina. We took the Newfound Gap Rd. There are hundreds of places to stop and go for hikes but it was cold so we chose just a few. The first was Chimneys picnic area where there was a lovely babbling brook. Then we drove up the mountain further and stopped at a pull out to view the Chimney Tops at an elevation of 4700ft. Back in the car and up the mountain further to Mortons Overlook, where the views down the valley was stunning. Back in the warm car and we continued on to Newfound Gap. It was the place where President Roosevelt officially dedicated the Smoky Mts Natonal Park in 1940 but it was established in 1934.Here the Appalacian Trail can be accessed. We took a short hike along the trail for a while.Then it was back in the car and up to the highest point in the Smokies, Clingman's Dome at 6,643ft. At the car park it said 800metres to the top on a sealed track. Bill says "I can do that." So we all set off rugged up against the cold and wind. After a short climb it got steeper and steeper. We slowed down but it was still difficult. Eventually Bill's heart took fright and went into AF so he stopped and went back to the car. The rest of us carried on but it wasn't easy. Finally we made it, there was a huge observation tower up there so we walked up and it was freezing we tried to make our fingers function on the camera but it was difficult. There were fabulous 360 degree views but it was dull and overcast. We didn't stay long before we hightailed it down the mountain top to the car.
We visited some more places on the way home, which will be on the next post. I still can't get used to blogging on my iPad.
Our hire car and Kathy at Chimneys picnic grounds
Chimneys picnic ground
Learning my new point and shoot

Driving higher and higher

The Chimney Tops Mountain
It was very cold
Mortons Overlook

Newfound Gap

Cold,wet and foggy

Climbing up to Clingman's Dome the highest point in the Smokies


Kathy and Rob on the observation tower at Clingman's Dome. It was freezing cold up there. 360 degree views. 

The observation tower

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GETTING TO GATLINBURG

Saturday 15/11/14
We were packed and ready to leave Nashville early. After the hugest breakfast that you have ever seen,  we set off in a cab to the airport to pick up a hire car. Rob drove and Kathy navigated our way out of the  airport and we were on our way to Gatlinburg. We stopped in at Crossville to meet bloggers, Betsy and George. It was fun meeting another blogger. I recognised her house and garden and the bird feeders from her blog. It is pretty amazing to feel you know people and places on the other side of the world when you have never met them, but that is what blogging does. We had a drink and a chat and then we were on our way again. We had to turn our clocks on one hour and it was late afternoon when we arrived at Laurel Springs B&B. It is old with a history and it is small and cosy. The hosts are helpful and friendly. We took their advice for dinner and parking. The little town of Gatlinburg is quaint but bordering on kitch. The Christmas lights were stunning.We headed to Cherokee Grill for dinner. Once again the meals were huge. I had Lemon Chicken and Bill had ground steak. Then it was home to climb up into our bed which is high off the floor.

French Toast and bacon for breakfast at the Linden Manor B&B in Nashville TN.

We stopped at Crossville and met the lovely bloggers, Betsy and George.

We drove on towards Gatlinburg

Our B&B, Laurel Springs Manor, in Gatlinburg.


We drove into town for dinner

We parked the car and walked quickly in the cold, past a babbling brook 
and down the colourful street
to the restaurant.

Then we climbed into bed without a ladder.
(Apologies to my blogger friends, who I haven't had time to visit and comment.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

NICE NASHVILLE

Friday 14/11/14
We dressed with everything we could find to keep warm and walked into town. It was about 3 to 4 miles. We found the Hall of Fame and went inside for a hot drink to thaw out before we started sight seeing.  We pushed on to find the Ole Oprey theatre which is actually the Ryman Theatre where the Ole Oprey radio show was broadcast live. Now it is at Opreyland out of town and we didn't have a car. The theatre was full of history but they didn't have tours so we went out into the cold street and walked down Broadway to buy a ticket for the Hop on Hop off trolley bus. Every  Honky Tonk bar we passed, and there were many, all had live music playing. We walked around a Candy Factory. There was an amazing array of sweets . The Candied Apples were huge. Finally we arrived at the trolley bus station by the river and we bought tickets and huddled in the warm waiting room. We decided to do the round trip rather than hop off into the cold. However, the driver, who was most informative, stopped in the best places for shots of the important places like the Capitol Building. We decided to catch a taxi home rather than walk up hill for 3 miles home. That night we braved the elements again and walked a few blocks to the local eateries for dinner. This time it was Josephine's . The meals were interesting and huge. Bill and I shared a chicken meal but it was a whole chicken.
We passed one of the many universities on our way to the city.

I loved all the different coloured trees and the carpet of leaves. We don't see that at home.

There were icicles on the shrubs

The travellers hopped off the bus for a shot in front of the Tennessee State Capitol Building way in the distance on top of the hill.

Broadway in Nashville full of live music flowing into the street. The city screams "Music Capital of the World" on every corner.

The Ryman Theatre the original home of the Ole Oprey live radio music show.

Just one of the many candy kitchens.

Time to hop back on the bus out of the cold.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NASHVILLE BRRRRRRR

We arrived in Nashville in the afternoon of the 13 Nov. It was freezing cold and such a difference from Brisbane and LA. Luckily we had been checking the weather and so we were prepared and dressed warmly. When Bill pulled his bag from the carousel, he noticed a rip in the fabric. Uh oh our brand new bag already damaged. Remembering that travel insurance companies like you to report damage to the carrier first , we went to the baggage office and reported the damage. After a bit of haggling we were offered a new bag. So we struggled over to the taxi stand with an extra case.
We arrived at the B&B and we were pleased to feel the warmth of the lovely house and hosts.

The bedroom was very comfortable.

The breakfast room was bright and airy.

We dressed with many layers of thermals, shirts, sweaters, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves, stuff we never wear at home. We set off out into below freezing temperatures to walk a few blocks to a restaurant recommended by our host. Our bodies were warm but our faces were frozen.

The meals were huge. I ordered a pork chop and this is what I got. It tasted delicious with its roasted peach sauce and macaroni cheese , I would have preferred veggies.

Bill had salmon.

We are enjoying travelling with Kathy and Rob. After dinner we braved the cold night air and walked home anticipating the nice warm house. The next day we tried sight seeing in the Artic Vortex.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

FAMILY FUN FOR A SHORT TIME THEN BYE BYE

We only had four days with our family in LA. It was a busy, loud, chaotic, fun time. Quite different from our quiet life at home. The boys are so lively and demanding, clever and funny, exciteable and emotional just like two and four year old boys are. They have grown so much in a year.
We took the boys to Poinsettia Park where Fox showed Granddaddy how to work out.

Sonya took us to Franklin Canyon Reserve where the boys enjoyed watching the ducks and turtles.

Banjo loves yoghurt.

Taking the family to Santa Monica Pier Amusement area.

Santa Monica Beach in the late afternoon.

Having fun on the pier throwing hoops over the bottles.

Fox was brave enough to go on the big Ferris wheel 

Sunset from Santa Monica Pier.

We went to visit Sonya at work at UCLA (uni of California). It is a beautiful campus.

Our last meal with our gorgeous family for a long time. Bye bye my darlings. Hope to see you in Australia next time. We were off to Nashville the next day.