Monday, August 31, 2009

Heading to the GSMNP

We are all packed up here at the cabin and are heading to Fontana Lake for kayaking and camping.

The cabin has been fantastic! It is in a really good spot about 15 minutes east of the NOC. We are on the mountain top, so the drive up the mountain is a little scary. But the views are worth it.

Anyone looking for a cabin in the Nantahala area should really checkout Watershed Cabins.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009


We're here. Having beers at the Pourover Pub. Dinner at River's End. Vacation!!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hiking with my Husband

In three days, Chip and I will be heading up to North Carolina to visit the Nantahala National Forest. We'll be whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River and heading to Fontana Lake to kayak, hike, and camp in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains. I am beyond excited about this trip. We've been planning for months - saving up for our gear, researching gear, purchasing gear - and are ready to go!

I first visited the GSMNP back in the March 2000. We car camped at Smokemont and did the more popular trails in the Smokies: Alum Cave trail and the Chimney Tops trail. I went back in June 2001 with some of my best friends. We camped at Balsam Mountain and did some of the AT to Charlies Bunion. In November 2006 I visited the Gatlinburg, TN side of the park for the first time. We camped at Elkmont and hiked the Ramsey Cascades trail.

Then last year, I took a trip with my girlfriends to the Nantahala Gorge. We had such an awesome time that I vowed to take my husband on some hikes. Chip and I have traveled to some wonderful places together but have yet to go on a camping trip together.

Our prep hike was a 13-mile day hike in Point Reyes National Seashore back in April. We hiked up the Mt. Wittenberg trail to the Sky and Woodward Valley trails, to the Coast trail, then back to the car via the Bear Valley trail.

We saw some beautiful views on this hike. Descending from Mt. Wittenberg on the Sky trail, there were heavenly views of the Pacific Ocean and Point Reyes.

The first few miles of the Woodward Valley trail were through a lush forest speckled with ferns. As we walked through this peaceful valley, we began to see some of the damaging results of the 1995 Vision Fire.

Some photos along the Coast trail looking over Sculptured Beach. I really regret not heading down to explore the beach. We decided not to hike down to the beach because we were less than halfway through the 13-mile hike, and our hips were already getting a little sore. I've seen photos of the tidal pools and wildlife, and I really hate that we missed it!

After about 9 miles, we finally made it to Arch Rock. We sat here for a long time just feeling the breeze, listening to the waves break on the rocks, and taking in the gorgeous views of the ocean.

We have tons of work to do tonight and tomorrow night to prepare for our departure on Saturday morning: buy groceries for our camp meals, pack the backpacks, get the kayaks... And getting ready is half the fun!! I'll do my best to post a few photos of the views from our cabin, the Ocoee and Nantahala rivers, and of our camping adventure around Fontana Lake.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gardening Gifts From Friends, Part 1

Back in February, my friends and I started a fun little game called Pay It Forward. Ladies, you haven't forgotten, have you?

We promised to make and deliver something handmade or homemade to the first 3 people to comment on our posts. Susan, Rachel, and Ginger signed up on mine. Well, I am happy to announce that I am close to done with everyone's Pay It Forward gifts. They have taken so long because they are garden-inspired and inspiration takes time. At least for me it does. I hope to deliver all the gifts after Labor Day.

As for Ginger, she delivered my gift back in May. We met up for coffee at Sneaky Beans in Jackson, and we had a GREAT time. We talked about our gardens and just life in general for hours. She also gave me a few passalongs: a lemon cucumber seedling, nasturtium seedlings, and some crocisma divisions.

I LOVE the Pay It Forward gift Ginger made for me! Its is a cute little birdhouse, all decked out for the Ole Miss Rebels. I am so impressed with Ginger's handiwork on the birdhouse. It really looks fantastic with its bold colors and perfectly aligned peicing.

No feathered birdies have taken up residence quite yet. I love how it brightens up this corner of my garden. Go Rebs Go!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Those Awful Vine Borers

My worst veggie nghtmare has come true! Well, this week's veggie nightmare at least. The vine borers are attacking my cucumbers!

I knew that something fishy was going on, because the cucumbers had been looking a little wilted even though we've gotten plenty of rain. I inspected the vines yesterday evening and, sure enough, squash vine borers have found their way into my cucumber vines! This morning I did some major surgery on the plants: cutting into the spot where I saw the orange, sawdusty goo and extracting and smooshing the little vine borer. Then, I rinsed the wound with fresh water and mounded up soil over the cut.

I have no idea if I got all of the little boogers. I guess we'll see if the vines continue to wilt. A huge THANK YOU goes to Ginger for her explanation on how to get rid of these nasty little creatures.

As you can see from this photo, the top of the vines are still really healthy, so I have high hopes for them. I saw at least 4 baby cucumbers on the vines. I really don't want to give up any more vegetables to these awful parasites. I am fighting back hard this time!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Kayaking the Yazoo River, August 2nd

We paddled up the Yazoo River on Sunday afternoon. Oh man, it was really hard!

The difficulty started before we even reached the river. Chip has an FJ Cruiser, and although it is a shorter/lighter SUV, it is still tall. Getting our two kayaks on top of Chip's FJ was tough. We lifted from the ground up to our shoulders, and then Chip lifted the boat up the rest of the way. I was proud of us! Ok, proud of Chip because I just kinda stood there and pushed up at the right time.
The FJ is a great vehicle for hauling the boats. Once you get over the height, the rest of the truck seems built for loading things on top. The gate opens horizontally like a door, so you can still get in the back once the boats are loaded. There are strong hooks on the trailer hitch and strong tow hooks on the front.

Chip got the Yakima BowDown boat holders. So far we a pleased with them. I give them a 6 out of 10 because I do have a couple of complaints. #1 - While not in use and "bowed down" on the truck, they make a pretty annoying whistling noise. Not enought to drive me crazy, but annoying. #2 - To secure the boats, you thread a strap through a large loop at the top of the BowDown cradle. For some unknown reason, there is a 1-inch space in the bottom of the loop. While we were loading the boats the strap fell through the space in the loop multiple times and we had a difficult time wriggling it back up into the loop. That was enough to make me want to seal off the space in the loop with duck tape.

Our paddle up the Yazoo was tough. It was hot - upper 90s - and the current was strong from all the rain we'd been getting. This paddle was seriously hard for a newbie like me. If I stopped even for a few seconds to wipe the sweat off my face, then I would be pushed back 3 to 6 feet by the current. Not fun. But I did it, and it felt good! We paddled up river for 2 miles up to a pretty oxbow-type lake off the main river. I didn't bring my digital camera with me, but I will on one of my future paddles. From the lake we could see Fort Hill in the Vicksburg Military Park. I can't wait to go back and do this paddle when the current is not so strong.

We are planning on going out on the reservoir on Sunday to continue our training. I want to do a long paddle in the AM before it gets too hot. I will definitely take my camera.