Sunday, October 17, 2010

National Storytelling Festival

While folks have been telling stories since time began, some have elevated this communication form to pure art. They've been gathering annually at Jonesborough, TN for the National Storytelling Festival to delight audiences for three days of wonderment and laughter.

The small eastern Tennessee town of Jonesborough goes all out for the festival, making it the best run event ever.

After each day's entertainment, we retired to the campsite to recall great moments within the stories and get ready for another day of being transported in time and space through words.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cherohala Skyway

Winding up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 15 miles in North Carolina and descending another 21 miles into the deeply forested backcountry of Tennessee, the Cherohala Skyway crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name "Chero...hala"... 36 miles of road, built with 100 million dollars of taxpayers' money. It was estimated that 5 million cars a year would use the skyway. In reality, only about 20 cars and 100 motorcycles a day enjoy the winding, mile high beauty of this unique byway . . . so come on up, drive the skykway, enjoy the area's sights, and get some use from your hard earned taxpayer dollars!!

Near the skyway's midpoint, we found Indian Boundary Campground - a nice place to have an up close lake experience. With the rear window open at night, the gentle lapping of the waves on the rocks made it sound as though we were sleeping aboard a boat!

An easy day trip from the campground took us to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Born in 1886 in New Brunswick, NJ, Kilmer was a soldier with the 165th Infantry Rainbow Division, killed in action in France during WWI in 1918. A poet, he is best known for his poem:


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

The forest has a steep, winding trail that takes the wanderer high up through lush vegetation where you can savor the sights and smells of a virgin forest. Along the way, you'll cross streams;

Delight at a community of mushrooms growing on a moss covered log;

Wonder why this lone "shroom" took up residence on the side of a tree;

And lean against the most humongous Poplar you can ever imagine.

The Cherohala Skyway. Visit it sometime, relax . . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Natchez Trace Parkway

Rounding a corner on our way east, Oscar said "Hey Pete, you've either taken a very wrong turn or Scottie has beamed us to The Planet of the Apes! Look at that sign . . ." I calmed him down by assuring him it was not THE forbidden zone, merely a warning about a flood area when they released water from a dam. We continued eastbound.

Finally, we arrived at the southern end of the Natchez Trace to start our slow meandering along this historic byway. 444 miles of slowly winding beauty that extends from Natchez to Nashville.

The Wonder Egg felt right at home.

Nothing is fast here . . . 50MPH is the rule for 444 miles! Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride or you'll go bonkers.

Stop at any of the markers along the parkway to see sights such as this Old Trace Exhibit that looks a lot like Aubrey! LOL

Be sure to check the rear view mirror to see if anyone has fallen too far behind.

There are plenty of choices for overnight stays. We chose Davis Lake Campground after about 243 miles of Zen inducing , hypnotic scenery.

A brief walk from one of the points of interest along the parkway will bring you to 13 graves.

These are 13 unknown Confederate soldiers who were laid to rest in the forest along the Trace. Were they some of Shilo's wounded who retreated in 1862 to die beside the trace? Did they serve under the daring General Nathan Forest who passed this way in 1864? Or were they guarding the Tupelo headquarters of J.B. Hood's Army of Tennessee near the end of the Civil War?

We exited the Natchez Trace near Chattanooga, TN and found a quiet place by the river to think of all we've seen along the historic path.