Tubin’ On The Creek

On Tuesday morning, we drove back to the Visitors’ Center to finish off the kids’ Junior Ranger requirements, and got them sworn in.

We then headed across the park to a picnic area where there was also a hike to a waterfall. We had a nice lunch, but we never got around to the hike, because when we got there, it seemed that tubing down Deep Creek was the activity of choice. So we did likewise

Then, naturally, we stopped for ice cream on the way home.

And while we were in the ice cream shop, it started raining, and hasn’t stopped since, scuttling our plans for a campfire.

It Was All I Hoped It Would Be

We got to have a nice relaxed Monday mornin’, with no need to get on the road and make mileage. After a nice breakfast, Susan and Jenni packed some lunches and we headed into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It was a bit of a drive, and getting down the hill that we’re on is as much of a challenge for the car as getting up it was. When we got to the bottom, we could smell the brakes, in spite of being in second gear the whole way down. Just like when we got to the top, you could smell the engine had been working hard.

We drove up to the Clingman’s Dome trail, and ate our picnic lunch, then proceeded up the half mile paved trail to the top.

And at the top, there was an observation tower made of concrete, with no stairs. A ramp was the only access to the tower, so the entire hike was handicap accessible, and on the way down, we did see someone in an electric wheelchair going up.

It was a good hike. Not long, but fairly steep, and still manageable by all the kids. When we got to the top, we (would have) had a great view of the surrounding mountains

(if we hadn’t been in the middle of a cloud).

One of us needed a little help coming down

but that’s OK. After the hike, we drove back down to the Visitors’ Center, and the kids attended a ranger program to begin work on their Junior Ranger badges. In addition to the program, they must do a lot of work in their workbooks to earn their badges.

Then on the way back home, we stopped at a pullout along the road to hike down to see Soco falls, which was very pretty. The kids wanted to play in the water of course, or hang out longer, but we had to get going to have time to do some grocery shopping for dinner.

Smokies

After our boat ride, we headed back on I-40 East and drove right out of Tennessee into North Carolina.

We are staying at the home of the uncle of our friend Jenni. It was billed as a “cabin” so we were thinking it would be somewhat rustic, but it is anything but.

And this is our view out the window this morning.

Awesome!

Showboat!

Yesterday, we went on a short river cruise up the Cumberland River on the General Jackson Showboat

for lunch and a show by Tim Watson called Fiddlin’ Around, which was an hour or so of music and comedy

that we all enjoyed. Tim put on a good show, though apparently not much different than what it was three years ago. After the show, we bought a CD of a live show, and Tim gladly posed for a picture with the kids

When we listened to the CD in the car, the main thing that has apparently changed is that he dropped some Michael Jackson jokes. I’d bet this was a recent change. But again, not to complain – the man is a good entertainer. We heard one couple tell the band that they enjoyed the show more than the Grand Ole Opry show they were at the previous night (featuring Carrie Underwood among others, if you recall…)

Whapped WAP

As I mentioned earlier, my pictures were uploading to flickr very slowly last night, and when I woke up, I was not surprised to see that the upload had failed. I started it up again, and it failed on the second picture. After a couple more iterations, I decided to take another tack, and connect to a different SSID, as there were many available and provided by the hotel. That seemed to fix it — the remaining few photos uploaded in minutes rather than hours, and the rest of the web sites I was using worked much more smoothly.

The problem felt like the LAN connection to that particular WAP must have been dropping packets (and lots!), either due to a bad cable or a bad interface. So if you’re ever at the Comfort Inn on Elm Hill Pike in Nashville, avoid BBHWIRELESS_18.

Overall, our experience with hotel wifi has been good. Performance hasn’t always been the best, but the availability has been ubiquitous, and as opposed to a few years ago, always free. The only exception was the non-national-chain sportsman-oriented motel we stayed in outside of DeSmett, South Dakota.

Title Bout

I didn’t write anything last night because I couldn’t think of a good title. Well, that and the fact that my pictures are uploading slower in this hotel than they do through my mobile connection. But still cheaper, to be sure.

Here we are in Nashville! We spent the night in a Comfort Inn, and for some reason they gave us a rate $30 cheaper than when we made the reservation in the afternoon. Woohoo!

Being rather naive about Nashville, we didn’t know what to go see other than the Grand Ole Opry House , so we went there first.

Turns out that Carrie Underwood (a family favorite) was performing that night, so with no expectations, we went and asked if there were tickets available, and…

there were not. Nor were there tickets for the afternoon show, nor for the backstage tour. But as I said, no surprise — it was a Saturday after all.

Instead, Susan got us tickets for a riverboat performance for Sunday, which should be fun.

I would guess that originally, there was no huge mall across the street from the Opry, but there is now. Lacking any other plan, we went and had an early dinner at the fancy Aquarium restaurant in the mall.

We thought we might take in the new Harry Potter movie after dinner, but it was voted down in favor of something less scary — G-Force in 3D. While the movie wasn’t great, the 3D was pretty fun. So while to the rest of the world, Nashville is known for its music, for us it will always be remembered for its 3D movies 🙂

Lunch!

We stopped at a nice rest area for lunch. We made PB&J sandwiches for the kids and tuna & potato salad sandwiches, since we lacked any other dressing.

Tennessee, With a Dash of Mississippi

Having spent the afternoon in Tennessee, we crossed over into Southaven, Mississippi and spent the night in a Quality Inn there, just to add to our state tally. Currently, it stands at 18 plus one Canadian province: Massachusetts, New York, Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi.

Tom’s Titles

I don’t tend to check the web-site everyday and Tom does 98% of the posting (many from the car while I’m driving and Jim Dale reads Harry Potter to us). He is doing a great job to keep up with the speed of our travels… But how about these post titles… He’s really out-doing himself this week. All this on only one cup of coffee (or less) per day!