Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Smokies wildfires

Just saw a comment on Twitter which alerted me to the fact that some trails are closed due to fire hazards..... checking the GSMNP site confirms this. Having just blogged about the dry heat, I can say I'm saddened but not surprised. Here's hoping for a quick, safe battle against the blazes, and some much-needed rainfall.

Interesting hike on Curry Mountain Trail

Ok, first off, wth? It should NOT feel like late July on April 27. But we persevere and press on through the (dry) heat and swarms of insects.
Fortunately we didn't encounter anyone else along the approx. 7 mile hike, since we often launched into unexpected sprints in effort to escape bees and yellow jackets.

The trail, which begins near Metcalf Bottoms, is a nice moderate climb with some attractive seasonal views of the surrounding ridges.
Very dry conditions, felt drought-like even, yet flowers are still thriving in patches along the way.

A few dazzling displays of Dwarf Crested Iris along the way in the spots that hold more moisture. Though we did encounter a few that looked sun bleached and wilted.

At 3.3 miles, we reach the trail intersection and turn onto Meigs Mtn Trail. After a brief walk, the Meigs Mtn Cemetery appears. Very peaceful.

Moving onward......

We reach our goal: backcountry campsite #19. Not one of our favorites, it is small, plain and bisected by the trail. Our opinions were influenced by the presence of horse poop and the freakin' cloud of gnats and some kind of giant mosquitoes that hovered around us at the site. But we are always equipped with gnat hats - total sanity savers.

About halfway back to the trailhead, we encounter a long black snake on the side of the trail. A bit of luck just like our bat encounter... I stopped to dig in the pack for a tissue (damn you, pollen) and spotted it, otherwise we'd have trucked on by.

Back to the Jeep and on the road by 1:30.....
New goal: vanilla ice cream cones!

More hike photos get uploaded to my flickr account, if you're interested.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An outing in Tremont

In an effort to enjoy both wildflowers and solitude, we ditched the busy 'touristy' trails and spent a quiet afternoon in the Tremont area of the Smokies along Sams Creek on 4.21.09.
We had the trail all to ourselves.

Pale bluets next to a cascade on Thunderhead Prong....

A stunning carpet of violets in bright purple and snowy white....

A delicate, lacy Fringed Phacelia....

The bud of a Dwarf Crested Iris....

.....and nearby, an Iris in full bloom.

Back to the Jeep.

"Wash me?"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring in the Smokies

Flowers are in bloom in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, the annual 'Wildflower Pilgrimage' is underway and we're trying to avoid the crowd.

We have taken our own wildflower hikes recently and have not been disappointed. I will share a few of the sights we've encountered along the way.

4.20.09 - Porters Creek Trail ~7.5 miles roundtrip.

A drab day that developed into a steady drizzle, still there were many flower gawkers along the first half of the trail. And rightfully so, there was quite a show of blooms to observe.

The rain set in as we continued onward.

We passed nobody between Fern Branch Falls and backcountry campsite #31, which surprised me as this was prime flower-viewing grounds. A little rain never slows us down, we broke out the ponchos and enjoyed the solitude.

I stopped to tie my shoe and behold, we spot a little brown bat neatly wedged into a crevice in the rock face, about 7 feet up.... not a cave by any means, but any shelter in damp weather.....

Much of the ground was a virtual carpet of white trillium, and we were treated to see wild geranium, foam flower, bluets, phlox, violets, dwarf crested iris, and a quite a few more.

The combination of drab lighting, wind and rain made for difficult photography (not to mention I never drag along my tripod). I still managed to take a wad of photos and had a great time.

I have posted more flower shots on flickr from this hike and others.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Organizing is agonizing

So I've spent the morning shifting photos from the hard drive to flash drive, and I'm still not nearly done. Good grief, I never realized that I actually DO take way too many photos (I have been accused of this but never believed it). Especially considering that I don't organize them, I just download them, it is a big problem. My new goal: "Don't do that!"
We'll see how long that lasts..... haha.
I've also spent some time today cleaning and organizing around the studio. My new goal there is: "Don't make a mess!" That'll never happen. Anyway, I managed to scrape out enough space (a square foot) to get some actual work done.
Dollar dollar bill, ya'll.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


.....I'm beat. I just mowed the grass and trimmed and edged and swept and showered and now I'm going to lay on the floor. I'm tired but I feel good and very accomplished, this is the first time I've done the whole yard myself. The reel mower works great, simply requires some patience. And some wo/manpower, and I have a fair amount of that - I just used it all up :-)
Still have some household cleaning to do, but.... later. First a bit of vegetating and then a slice of pizza. I earned it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stop! Sammich time!

Put on your shiny Hammer pants and get ready for more bread ramblings..... Thinly sliced and toasted, the milk-n-honey white bread loaf of doom makes an excellent sandwich. I've been using smoked turkey, mozzarella and baby spinach with a shot of yellow mustard. I've put the second loaf in the freezer and I'm keeping the used loaf in the fridge. I'm also keeping the honey in the fridge even though they say it isn't necessary. Doesn't become too hard to spread anyway.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bread report

Last night I baked two loaves, using a simple recipe for basic white bread with honey and milk. It turned out fine but is quite heavy. In fact, "deadly weapon loaf" would not be an out-of-line moniker. Regardless, the bread is quite tasty when toasted and spread with butter and local honey (which is just divine on its own!)

After doing a little 'net research I believe multiple things may have contributed to the heaviness:
First, I probably used too much flour, even though I still used less than the recipe called for. Second, I didn't check the temp of the milk before dissolving the yeast, it was probably too warm. Third, I used my hand mixer to get things going, which probably wasn't a great idea and was *over*mixing. Fourth, I probably didn't knead long enough. Fifth, although the bread seemed to rise ok, it was pretty cool in the kitchen yesterday and I didn't really find a warm place to put it while rising.
If you have any input or suggestions, I'd love to hear them :-)

Anyway, I felt like a fine peasant chef while fussing with it and I love the crusty, rustic look of my little home baked loaves.
It will be fun to experiment further with this bread baking, maybe using different flour and buttermilk next time. I may even make a sourdough starter, although part of me shudders at the prospect of it living and breathing and lurking around my kitchen at night while I'm sleeping....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gonna bake some bread

So my husband brought some local honey home from work and I've decided I want to bake some fresh, crusty, homemade bread to spread it on.... so I bought some yeast, fresh flour and sugar, I've got a couple loaf pans and the cooling racks.... now I'm trying to pick a recipe. Yeeesh!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Avoidance, Pt. 2

You know how, once you've put something off for a little while, then it gets increasingly easier and easier to *continue* putting it off, and way too hard to *stop* putting if off? Yeah, I've been doing that. Bad, bad, naughty blogger.
So, here's a catch-up post:

I was out of town for a week, visiting the family in Louisiana and soaking up as much good food as I could (including mass quantities of po-boys & beignets *slobber/drool*)
Now I'm back in Tennessee and enjoying the spring weather. Everything is SO green. Funny how the memory of greenness fades so quickly in the bleak, grey wintertime.
BUT, there is a call for snow showers again tonight so we're still not completely out of icy clutches yet.

I have a ton of photos to share but haven't the time to upload them all at once, so they're trickling in slowly. Check my Flickr account for some I've put up so far.

Ok, so I'm back and my goal is to stay better updated! Wish me luck :-)