Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Goodbye North Carolina. It was fun while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end. The last adventure of the summer was a great one. Now that school is starting the adventures will be fewer and farther in between. But it has been an adventure packed summer. We packed up our tent this morning and headed north out of North Carolina and into Tennessee. Our one last stop before heading home was a visit to Greeneville and the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.
Andrew Johnson Home
Johnson was an interesting and under-appreciated president and the visit to this site was informative and interesting. After our visit, which included a great lunch at the Tannery Restaurant, it was north into Kentucky and the end of a great summer. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Conemarra
Today was one of the more relaxing days of our mini-vacation. In the morning we visited the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Sandburg's home, Connemarra is in a beautiful setting and includes some hiking trails and a goat farm. We toured the house, visited the goats,
Angry Goat
and hiked to the top of Glassy Mountain.
Big Glassy Mountain
In the afternoon we headed into Asheville where we ate a great lunch at Jack of the Wood Pub. The beer was very good, and the IPA is highly recommended. After lunch we strolled around town and then grabbed a campsite at Lake Powhatan. After a shower we headed back into town for a beer tasting at French Broad Brewing Co. It was really interesting in that they have live music to listen to while you sample. The beer was once again excellent. Since they did not offer food, we headed back downtown to Barley's Taproom where we got some pizza and more good, local beer.   

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pisgah National Forest: Cradle of Forestry & Sliding Rock

Besides our summit of the highest point in South Carolina, we also spent some time today exploring Pisgah National Forest. We visited Looking Glass Falls,
the Cradle of Forestry in America,
Logging Train
Cradle of Forestry
and a natural water slide called, appropriately enough, Sliding Rock. Eric had a lot of fun sliding down the rock, but the water sure was cold!
  

Sassafrass Mountain: The Highpoint of South Carolina

Sassafrass Sign
Noelle hiking to Sassafrass
sassonsass
Eric and Sassafrass
Noelle and Eric on Sassafrass

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Highpoint of Georgia: Brasstown Bald

After our hike up Mount Cammerer, Noelle and I got back in the old Civic and headed southwest to the Jackrabbit Campground where we spent the night. We woke up this morning, packed up the tent and headed south to Brasstown Bald. We parked at the junction of GA 180 and GA 180 Spur. Then we hit the trail, hiking up Jack's Knob Trail to the most enormous parking lot I've ever seen on a mountain. You could have parked probably 3,000 cars up there. From the parking lot, it was another .6 miles to the summit of Brasstown Bald, the highest point in the state of Georgia.
Eric at Brasstown Bald
Highest Drink in GA
There's a really nice visitor's center up there so we spent some time browsing and checking out the view. Then it was back down to the car and a drive east to our next campsite in preparation for our hike up Sassafrass Mountain the following day. Along our drive we were treated to some unexpectedly nice distractions including some great waterfalls at Glen Falls
Falls
and the highest waterfall in the east, 411 foot tall Whitewater Falls.
Noelle Whitewater Falls
Finally we made it into South Carolina where we camped at a nice little state park for the night.    

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Mount Cammerer

This morning Noelle and I woke up in our hotel room in Knoxville and quickly hit the road. We grabbed some breakfast at Hardee's before heading to the easternmost section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Big Creek Ranger Station was our driving destination for the start of our hike up Mount Cammerer.
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The hike itself was very pleasant with some big trees and wildlife.
Noelle Creek
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Our destination, Mount Cammerer was nice as well. However, the views were quite hazy.
After a few minutes up on top,
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we headed back down and even caught a glimpse of a small black bear. All in all a good 12 mile hike.    

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Run

Last night Noelle and I had the opportunity to run in the annual Midsummer Night's Run 5k in Lexington. Let's just say that we are very pleased with our results. Noelle broke 31 minutes in her very first 5k ever! Eric broke 20:00 despite the fact that he ran in his first 5k in two years. Our results can be found here. The good finish has Eric thinking about a possible marathon attempt in the spring. We'll have to see though.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New River Gorge National River: Bicycling to Thurmond

Noelle and I awoke to a pouring rain this morning. It made it pretty difficult to get out of the tent. When we finally got moving, we drove to get some breakfast at a West Virginia chain called Tudor's Biscuit World. A descent breakfast. We then headed to the National Park Service visitor center where we watched the video, checked out the exhibits, and walked to the New River Bridge overlook. By that point it had finally stopped raining, so we headed back to ACE to pack up our campsite. By the time we got to the Minden trailhead of the Thurmond-Minden Trail it was gray and damp, but we decided to give the bike ride a try.
Noelle Cycling
I'm glad we did, the ride was nice and the trail offered great views of cascading creeks, waterfalls, and old railroad trestles. The old town of Thurmond was very interesting also.
Thurmond Depot
Thurmond Bank
Loafer Eric
It's practically a ghost town that highlights how the railroad industry has shaped the New River Gorge.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rafting the Lower New River


Well today Noelle and I got in some real adventure, whitewater rafting on the New River in West Virginia. We woke up in our tent at the ACE Adventure Center and signed in for our trip at 7:30. We were on the river by about 9:30. Right off the bat we hit some small rapids, just a warm up for what was to come. The great thing about the trip is the mixture of whitewater and a few flatwater sections that make for some good swimming.
Noelle Swimming
Lunch
Lunchtime!
Jumping In!
Jumping In!
By 1:30 we had passed under the New River Gorge Bridge and our trip was sadly over. We had a blast though, and plan on returning in the fall for a trip on the Gauley.