Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

When I was around six or seven years old, the parents in our neighborhood staged a haunted house.  This is Mom as a tortured soul chained to a pipe organ and doomed to play throughout eternity.  Fortunately, she went back to college and went into psychotherapy.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mummy Pizza

Mummy pizza is just one of several Halloween hacks for last minute entertaining on All Hallows Eve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roan Mountain Wildlife

During our Roan Mountain trip we saw a lot of wildlife.  In addition to the deer that visited our cabin several times a day to eat apples, we found this salamander under our wood pile.  I believe he is a Southern Red-Backed Salamander.
Sarah and I walked parts of the Riverside trail and Blue trail 2 one morning while Sherry slept in.  Sarah poses at a bridge over the Doe River.
At first I thought this was just snake skin, but on closer inspection it appears this reptile was mashed by a vehicle of some sort.
 We saw a lot of chipmunks around the park, especially on the path from the parking lot to our cabin.  Sarah tidied up one afternoon while we were there.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Corn Maze

Yesterday we navigated the corn maze at Misty River Cabins and RV Resort in Walland with our friends Lee and Angel, and their kids Evan and Laurel.  Here Sherry and Angel photobomb Sarah in the maze.
Angel and Sherry pose on hay bales with the corn field and a bright, blue autumn sky in the background.
Country boy and city girl enjoy fall in East Tennessee.
Sarah and her friend Laurel pose on the hay bales after the kids played for a long time in a bouncy house.  They also had a corn hole game set up at the end of the maze, and the moms were nailing some bean bag shots.  It was a fun fall day.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cousins Sleepover

Sarah and I picked up my niece Grace at school Friday afternoon so the cousins could have a sleepover.  Mom also stayed over, and we had a nice evening of kids playing and adults visiting.  Sarah had an agenda planned, and the girls played, made and ate pizza and watched a movie upstairs.  It was a fun sleepover!  They are both growing up so fast.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Saint Crispin's Day

On October 25, 1415, Saint Crispin's Day, English troops under King Henry V defeated French forces in the Battle of Agincourt.  My ancestor, John Ogle, immigrated from Northumberland, England, two hundred years later, and I have read that the family name dates back to at least to the 1200's.  I read an article on Agincourt, and it had a link to a search engine that allows you to search for the names of soldiers of that era.  I searched for my surname, and found Ogles that fought during the Hundred Years War from 1375 to 1417, including two who fought under Henry V in 1415 as archers.

Squash Recipe

Squash is a vegetable that I learned to like only after adulthood.  The only way I had ever had it as a kid was baked into a mushy casserole, but I found out that if you don't cook it to mush, it is actually pretty good.  Alas, my good lady wife's experience with squash was much like mine, and she won't come near the stuff.  I am proud that she's come to appreciate asparagus, which also suffers from overcooking, and I've been looking for a recipe to win her over to liking squash, too.  This one might do it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cloudland Nature Trail

Like the Peg Leg Mine trail, the Cloudland trail begins just behind the visitors center at Roan Mountain State Park.  It is named for the Cloudland Hotel, which was a resort in the area. The Peg Leg is about a total one mile trail, and the Cloudland trail totals about two miles.  Neither does a lot of climbing, though the Cloudland ascends a bit more than the Peg Leg Mine trail does.  The Cloudland is an interpretive trail with six markers.  Sarah read the appropriate material from the pamphlet provided at the visitor center.
Although our camera didn't pick it up very well, this was a great rock shelter where three or four people could easily camp overnight, but I don't think park authorities would approve.
Living here in Blount County, we are aware of the devastation caused by the hemlock woody adelgid.  At one point along the trail the pamphlet points out the damaged caused in the state park.  There were a lot of dying hemlock trees, but others were thriving.
It took a bit of effort to get this piece of brush out of the trail.
I took these two pictures to show the mill run behind the visitors center at the end of the Cloundland trail.  It runs from a spring, turns the corner of the visitors center and then flows over the waterwheel before the water flows into the Doe River.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Visit to Banner Elk, North Carolina

During our recent visit to upper East Tennessee and western North Carolina, we spent a little time in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  Samuel Henry Banner was a member of one of the mountain town's founding families, and he operated a sawmill and grist mill on the Elk Creek.  The mill pond is home to many ducks and geese.  His home now houses the Banner House Museum, which was unfortunately closed when we were there.
The falls at the mill dam were pretty.
We happened upon the May Rehabilitation Center, where Lee's-McRae College's Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute cares for injured animals.  There are some beautiful birds being cared for there.  This first bird is an Eastern Screech Owl.
I'm not sure what kind of hawk this is.  From the picture in my Audubon Field Guide I would say he is a Swainson's Hawk, but they live west of the Mississippi River.  My second guess is a Red-Tailed Hawk, which are common here.  I wish I'd had my bird books on hand when we saw them.
 I believe that this is a Barred Owl, a rather large bird.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Regular Show Star Wars

One of the many bizarre cartoons my child watches is the Regular Show.  This Star Wars/Regular Show mash-up is great.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Restaurant Review -- Bonnie Kate Cafe, Elizabethton, Tennessee

We recently ate at Bonnie Cate Cafe, 115 South Sycamore Street, Elizabethton, Tennessee.  I have passed through Elizabethton many times, but had never driven into the downtown area. After a bit of wandering around, we settled on the Bonnie Cate.  As you can see from the photograph, the cafe is in the Bonnie Cate Theater, where they have two screens.  The girls had cheeseburgers, and I had the meatloaf, green beans and mashed potatoes.  We were served quickly, and they kept my iced tea glass full.  It was a cool find.
 While driving around downtown, we passed this covered bridge, which I learned has quite a history.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Weekend on Everett Hill

Sherry is in Nashville this weekend and took Joey and Jake to visit the campus of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville Friday.  I went to court in Clarksville a few times and remember it as a pleasant place to visit. I considered taking Sarah camping this weekend, but opted for a quiet weekend at home.

With Halloween upon us, I borrowed Phantom of the Opera, Dracula (the Bela Lugosi version) and Van Helsing from the library.  We watched the first three yesterday, taking a break from them to watch UT beat South Carolina on television, which made for a fun and restful Saturday.  I didn't even have to cook lunch inasmuch as my daughter cooked hamburgers for us.  At ten years old, she's taken an interest in cooking.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

I ran across a photograph spread in the Atlantic that showed cheese makers plying their craft in Gruyere, Switzerland.  We visited Interlaken, Switzerland, in 2000 and were treated to a visit to an alp in the Bernese Oberland where we got to see some German cheese makers.  The images reminded me of that visit.  I was impressed when we walked into the kitchen where they were working and heard the radio playing Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." 

Peg Leg Mine Trail

During our stay at Roan Mountain State Park, we hiked the short Peg Leg Mine Trail.  The trial head is just behind the park's visitor center, where we took advantage of this fall photo op.
The visitors center features this green waterwheel.
Sarah poses with the Doe River, which runs through the park, in the background.
While there is still plenty of green foliage on the trees, fall is clearly coming to this corner of East Tennessee.  We had a bit of wind on this walk that showered leaves down on us.

The Peg Leg Mine was operated by John T. Wilder, a retired Union Civil War general, who was in the iron business both before and after the war.  The mine produced iron ore, and the presence of iron is evident in the reddish brown tint of this spring on the nearby Cloundland trail.
Sarah poses at the collapsed entrance into the shaft of the mine.  We thought we could hear the faint sound of dwarves singing below.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Louisville Lake

Sarah and I visited Louisville Landing Marina on a misty morning last weekend.  It made me miss my lake.  The island in the background is about ten minutes by canoe from my erstwhile Louisville residence, and was the first one I camped on after I bought my canoe.  We called it Fantasy Island, after the television show.  Two goats named Thelma and Louise lived there later, courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Authority, at least from what I heard.
Just after a good rain you can catch sauger in the cove past the boat slips on the right.  Listen for water running into the lake on your right.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fort Watagua

Here are a few snapshots of us exploring Fort Watauga at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.
Sarah inspects the bakery.
She got a kick out of ringing the bell.
Here is a bit of fall color within the fort.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Land of Oz

During our trip to Roan Mountain we crossed over into North Carolina to visit the Autumn in Oz festival at the site of the old Land of Oz amusement park at the top of Beech Mountain.  I visited the park in the early Eighties, after it had closed, and some friends and I walked all through it one afternoon.  I learned about the Autumn in Oz festival when I did an Internet search about the defunct amusement park.
Once we got into the event, we had fun, but we stood in line for an hour and a half to get on a crowded bus that took you another thirty minutes up the mountain.  We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and bought tickets for 1:30 p.m., and then endured the waiting and the bus trip, putting us actually at the site of the event at 3:30 p.m.  The lines inside were similarly crowded, but everyone in line, including me, was in a much better mood then.  Once was enough for me.
Sarah found a couple of munchkins that were about her age to pose with.  These kids were part of the show, but there were a lot of customers in costume and other Oz regalia, too.
When the park was closed, a lot of people took pieces of the yellow brick road, and I have seen pieces on shelves of the homes of friends I knew in the Eighties.
Sherry and Sarah share a photo and a little oil with the tin woodsman.
The sun was behind the scarecrow, so this shot didn't turn out as nice as we'd hoped.
The cowardly lion was a hoot.  He sounded a lot like Bert Lahr, who portrayed the lion in the classic film.
This sign gave Sarah cause for concern.
Turns out she was right, for we were quickly taken into custody!  I asked one of these guys where I could find the best lawyer in Oz, and he said he heard a house had fallen on her.  It was, I must admit, a pretty good off-the-cuff lawyer joke.
Let go of my daughter, you damned dirty ape!

Sarah poses with the main Wizard of Oz characters.  We exited the event site shortly after this, only to encounter another bus line.  Fortunately we overheard some people who were going to walk down the ski slope, so we followed them.  It was a steep and strenuous walk down, but far better than another two hours of waiting.