Monday, October 24, 2016


As Halloween kicks off, I give you  Dr. Van Helsing holding off Count Dracula with a crucifix in the movie classic Dracula, released in 1931 during the depths of the Great Depression. When I was a kid, they showed horror movies in the afternoons after school, and so I was a great fan of ghost and horror stories from early on. I've probably read Dracula more times than I've seen all the various movies combined, because as a kid I usually read it at least once a year. The 1931 movie version of Dracula, featuring Bela Lugosi, however, remains a classic.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Visit to Forbidden Caverns

Sarah and I went over to Sevier County during her fall break, and on the way there we decided to go through Forbidden Caverns. We've been before, but Sarah was too young then to remember it.
As with many of the commercialized caves in our area, these are well lit and very accessible. They use colored lights for extra effect.
Sarah posed with some nice flowstone in the background. (Having been an avid spelunker in my youth, I had to throw in a little speleological jargon there.)
This river runs through part of the caverns. I've camped out it a cave or two, but never in one with a river. I can imagine what a wonderful night's sleep one could have listening to that creek in the total darkness of a cave.
This is known as the Grotto of the Evil Spirits, which is perhaps less accommodating for a good night's sleep.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Martian Butte

This is one of the Murray Buttes which the rover Discovery has been traveling through on the surface of Mars. (Via Astronomy Picture of the Day)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Throwback Thursday

For today's throwback Thursday picture, here is my maternal grandfather, whom I knew as Grandpa Isenhour. His first name was Harvey. This is the dinner table at my Isenhour grandparents' home in Hickory, North Carolina. The property adjoined Lenoir Rhyne College.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Siege of Yorktown Ends

On October 19, 1781, Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington ending the Siege of Yorktown. Two years later the Treaty of Paris brought a formal end to the American Revolutionary War.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Visit to Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo

During our recent visit to Sevier County, Sarah and I visited the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo. This red kangaroo was napping in the sun.
The zebras were eating when we passed their enclosure, so I was able to get this close-up shot of one with his nose in the food trough.
There's something about an emu that just exudes attitude. I wonder if they are any good to eat. He'd sure make a big Thanksgiving bird.

Of course Sarah's favorite animal, felis catus, was on display at the gift shop. His name is Howie, which I thought was a pretty cool name for a housecat.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trip to Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo

Sarah and I recently went to visit Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo in Sevierville, and these are a few pictures I took of the animals they house there.
I tried to get him to sing some Jimmy Buffett tunes, but he declined, preferring his own screeching material.
The ring-tailed lemurs had just been fed when we went through, and it was fun watching them enjoy their breakfast.
This little prairie dog was very active. 
Eight years ago, a fisherman caught this caiman in the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville. He is a lot bigger now than I remember him from local news coverage at the time. He was most likely bought as a pet and grew to big for his owner to care for and was turned loose.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chimney Rock

Here are some snapshots from our trip to Chimney Rock, North Carolina. I took this shot from the parking lot below it.
There is an elevator at Chimney Rock, but it was out of service during our trip, so we got to climb the 498 stairs to the main viewing platform. There are several different viewing platforms as you climb up, and they offer different views of the surrounding mountain.
We all spent some time resting at the main viewing platform, which gives a panoramic view of the area. Sarah perched on this rock to enjoy some sunshine while we took in the views.
This is Lake Lure seen from the parking lot below Chimney Rock. The area has been used to film several movies over time, including Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Asheville Pics

As part of Sarah's fall break we took a little trip up to Asheville, North Carolina, to visit Jake. Here are a few snapshots from our trip.
We rented a cabin in nearby Hendersonville, and found it quite comfortable. Sherry and Jake relax on the front porch in the traditional Southern manner.
Sherry is crazy for sunflowers, and when we passed this barn she determined that it was a perfect backdrop for a photograph.
Sarah poses atop Chimney Rock, with Lake Lure in the background.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Restaurant Review -- Bob's Dairyland, Roan Mountain, Tennessee

After visiting Roan Mountain several times now, I finally got to have a meal at Bob's Dairyland, 8361 Highway 19-E, Roan Mountain, Tennessee. I had the Philly cheese steak sandwich and was not disappointed. They have a wide selection of sandwiches and dinner plates that includes burgers, chicken and barbecue. Thumbs up!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Throwback Thursday

I'm only going back three years for today's throwback Thursday picture. This is Sarah in 2013 at the visitor center at Roan Mountain State Park.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for those who practice Judaism. It is also called the Day of Atonement.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Audiobook Review -- Igniting the American Revolution: 1773-1775 by Derek W. Beck

I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Igniting the American Revolution: 1773-1775 by Derek W. Beck. It focuses on events from what John Adams called "the destruction of the tea" to the capture of Fort Ticonderoga from British regulars by American colonial forces commanded by Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen.

Arnold had not turned traitor at this point in history, but someone else had, a doctor named Benjamin Church, who was part of the Massachusetts colonial leadership but also an informant to General Gage. I was interested in this because I have an ancestor known as Yankee John Church, who fought on the American side in the Revolution and was born in Massachusetts, though by the time the war started he was living in North Carolina. I suspect there is a family connection, but I do not have enough information to know for sure. For a more scholarly review, visit the Journal of the American Revolution.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Holding Down the Fort

Sherry and Sarah and Sarah's friend Grace are in Nashville this weekend visiting, and as usual I'm holding down the fort at home. The Tennessee vs. Texas A&M football game will be played this afternoon in College Station, so I will have the game on television to entertain me. Mom and Leslie are also contemplating coming for a visit later in the day. Sherry and the girls are due back tomorrow.