Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Gabriel to the Playground with His Mom and Grandparents

Gabe crawls through the play tunnel 

Gabriel to the Playground with His Mom and Grandparents

Sat. Jan. 20 , 2018

Dana, Kenny, Lydia and Gabriel Koogler

   I had not spent any quality time with my daughter in law in awhile. 
She came over and spent the day.  I enjoyed it so much and so did Gabriel. He was 
glad to see Mama!  No one can take her place or makes him smile and laugh as much.
It was a really pretty day. It was the first warm day we'd had in a long while.  We got 
out Saturday afternoon and took a ride to Townsend. We went to the playground.
We took Gabe's little push car to give him some rides in that and get some exercise.
Lydia took us and showed us on the way home where Mt. Luke is located. What an experience!
I'll do a blog on that another time. 

 Gabe & Lydia 
 Gabe with apple cheeks and a big smile

 Trying to crawl UP  the slide! 
 Little Gabey Bear is getting to be a big boy! 
 See saw with Mommy!

 Brrmmin in my little car
 Wearing Papaw's cool shades
Happy Baby running

 What is it about going UP slides kids like so much? 
 Hair like corn silk.... 
 Gabe stayed on the swings a long time!  

It is fun spending time with mommy and Nanny and Papaw.

   We were finally able to get Gabe to go back to the car. He had a great time.  He was getting tired and a little chilly.  He sat down in his car seat and got Bah out to have a sip. He had dissy blanket to snuggle with.   Lydia directed us how to find Mt. Luke. Their family owns a cabin up there or what is left of it.  The road is like going to billy goat town!   It is steep and narrow and the cabins all perched on the mountain side.  I'll go back up there and take photos of the place.   

It is historic for sure.

     We went home for more play time indoors.  Dinner.  and good conversation and lots of laughs.

Big Piney Rock House

Big Piney Rock House

Friday Jan. 26, 2018

Dana & Kenny Koogler

 We went over to visit with John and Sharon in Fentress County on a much needed get 
away weekend.   We have been going through a rough spell in our personal lives thanks to the upheaval caused by having substance abusers in the family.  Relapse is part of recovery, but that doesn't mean its painless. You don't give up. You keep loving . You keep praying. You keep working the 12 steps and you keep trying.   We finally made arrangements with Gabe's other
grandparents and our daughter and son in law to watch him for a weekend.   It worked out great, but what we did not count on was how tired we were.  We also did not count on 
how after awhile the problems at home follow you. You cannot run from things forever.
You gotta talk things out and work on it.  

      The weekend turned out to be rainy on Sunday but the rest of the weekend was pretty fair.
We did hash out our differences and the time away from home and being with friends was good for us.   Below is a quote I have in art work framed and on the wall at my house.  A reminder to keep trying. Never give up. 
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”--- Rumi 

     Big Piney Rock House

  Friday we ended up with a few hours to do something.    We needed to keep it short.
We went down into Big Piney gorge to see the massive rock house we found.  We wanted to 
check it out during cold weather.  It is probably very snakey down in there during warm weather.     We went to the Sandy side and started in.     We found the trail in fair shape.
Still lots of overhanging limbs but only one fallen tree.     We made it there and walked down
into the drainage and followed it back to the rock house.  It was pretty cool.  The late afternoon sun had the woods looking golden and smoky.   
 RZR on the trail at the rim of the gulf
Golden sun in late afternoon woods.  

 Finally made it to the rock house.
 Looking out from under it. Nice to see blue skies.
 Taken from the second level of the rock house.
 Late afternoon sun makes its way into the rock house' upper reaches.


  Once we'd checked it out we found an easier, quicker way back to the RZR and the trail. 
We went on down to the bottom of the gorge to see the creek. It was wintery and pretty. 

Incredibly clear and sparkling waters of Big Piney Creek.
 Lots of icicles still around. Edges of the stream still frozen.

We did a quick stop by the spot where a cemetery is supposed to be.  We did not find it, but did find the remains of an old structure.  We will have to try again.  I have a way point for next try.

  Saturday-- Trail into Lost Cane 

  Saturday we visited with John and Sharon a bit.  They invited us to have dinner with them.
We told them what we planned to get up to and they opted out.  I told them I had a feeling it might not end up being fun or a success.  Unfortunately I was right.   
We stopped by a house we pass sometimes on Boatland Road.   I had photos of Mrs. Koger's beautiful tiger lilies I had taken one Summer when they were extremely pretty.   I got prints made for her.  I brought her a candle I made.   We stopped for me to take them in. I met her son James and told him what I'd come for. He told me she passed away last June of cancer.  
I was stunned and saddened. I expressed my sympathies and sorrow at having not made it by there in time to meet her. I left the things with him to enjoy and promised to try to be more neighborly.  I went back to the RZR with Kenny and burst into tears as we pulled away.  
Don't hesitate to do something nice for another, because we never know when it may be too late.  Her name was Clarice Koger and she was only 72 years old.  A sweet looking silver haired lady.  I hate that she is gone.   

     We went on to Bills Creek and the upper trail on the ridge.  It was open, but lots of brush to whack me in the face. We finally got on to where we'd found  a side trail we believed led down off the ridge and into Lost Cane just below Frank's Flume.   We pulled over and walked it. 
The plan was to clear it out IF it went where we believed and IF it was not a mammoth task.
We followed the old road, but it did not end up going where we believed.  It would have indeed been too much of an undertaking to clear out.   We finally had to give up and go back.   I was down.
I just didn't care about anything right then.   I was still saddened.  

    We had a nice dinner with John and Sharon and lots of good conversation.   
We finally headed back to the No Tell Motel as I call it.. the Jordan Motel.  We slept and when we went to bed it was raining.  It was to have cleared out by morning, but it didn't.  We went back to Boatland to see John and Sharon and have breakfast. The day was rainy and cold and dreary.  
We said our good byes and headed home.

   It was good to get away, but most of our plans didn't turn out like we wanted. That is not the end of the world.  When you explore sometimes you are going to get disappointed.  At least we have the satisfaction of knowing what we wanted to know and can cross some things off our list.  

     A consolation prize was that at the start of the week a young couple reached out to me for help in finding Rainbow Falls.  I ended up helping them. Friending the lady on Facebook.  They are 
our kinda people!  I am very excited to get to meet them. They are Hippie Jack loving, music loving, outdoor loving, campers, four wheeling peeps!   A second good side effect of helping them?
I found out they can help me get to see Hell Hole and possible some of the other sink holes I want to check out to wrap up my sink hole research project. 
' A third great thing that happened was in studying the map for them I happened upon answers to accessing places I had wanted to reach! I also found new  questions for myself to have brand new Ponders over.  Julia Ross.. You know what I'm talkin' bout gurl!  LOL... The studying on a thing can be nearly as much fun as finally figuring it out!  


November Camping Trip to Fentress County

November Camping Trip 

Weekend of Nov. 18th , 2017

   We had not spent any time with our friends Sharon & John since July. 
Kenny's working out of state, trying to help babysit grandkids and other stuff just
kept getting in the way.   We determined we needed to fix that.   We planned to get 
away to see our friends and relax.  It worked out that we were able to get together
with Nelson Matthews and his family on this trip!  At last some of the stuff we'd been
wanting to see was going to happen!  We were thrilled about that.   Seeing new things.
Meeting folks you've kept up with on Facebook, but not met in person.  Spending time
with folks who are friends of longer standing.  It is a great combination.  We had already
said that over the weekend we'd at last get to Jammin' at Hippie Jacks on Saturday night.
John and Sharon had been trying to get us to go for a long while.   

     Saturday  we got up and met Nelson at Wal-Mart in Jamestown. He brought along his
daughter Rachel and two granddaughters.    They set out with us leading the way to see some
waterfalls and rock features in the Allardt area.   
First we visited the long sought after Yellow Creek Falls. I had been pining over that ever since seeing Nelson's photos of it.  We spent a few minutes pondering how to get down the bluff?
He had been before, but he had slept since then.  It seems that once you've hit a saturation point with hiking to waterfalls it all begins to run together.  I sure know how that works. We found our way down without too much trouble and it was a short walk over to the falls.  

 Yellow Creek Falls with a pretty good flow for Autumn!
Yellow Creek Falls with Kenny and Sharon in the shot for scale!  It is a large falls!

  We went on back and then followed the bluff down to a second falls. I do not recall the name of it.  It was barely a trickle.  We climbed back up the bluff and back to the vehicles to continue our tour.   We went to Barn Creek Bridge and a couple falls next! I had long wanted to see 
Barn Creek Bridge, but never expected to as it is on private property.  It is a very pretty and interesting natural bridge.

 Above and below Barn Creek Bridge.  Maddie and Belle were all over the place they were so energetic!  Say what you want about the youngsters of today these girls are the exception and not the rule. They love outdoors and spend lots of time exploring with their family.

Barn Creek Bridge is a bigger feature than I expected and the side channels of it and rock over hangs were complex!

One of the side channel overhangs of Barn Creek Bridge.  

   Not too far beyond Barn Creek Bridge were two small, scenic waterfalls.  I had never heard of them to my recollection.  

Small un-named falls beyond the bridge

Another small falls beyond the bridge.

The property owners graciously agreed to let us visit, but asked that the falls not 
be named or any directions shared.   

   Once we had visited these pretty spots we headed back to the truck.  These features are in a residential area.  Most of what we saw today was in an area near homes on private land.  
Nelson had obtained permission to bring us to see these spots.   It began to drizzle rain when
we got back to the cars.  We stopped in Allardt at the Dollar General for snacks and drinks.
We then continued on to the last falls of the day.  It was another un-named pair of falls in a 
beautiful gorge at the home of a couple Nelson is friends with.  The lady was exceptionally nice.
She not only let us see the falls, but invited us in to see their home which is partially underground!   It was a beautiful falls and a fabulous home!  Making new friends is always great.  The little girls were all about getting to hug up on Charlotte.  

Set of twin waterfalls in a gorge on private property.  

It was a fantastic day of exploring!  It had been drizzly, but stopped for awhile. It was so warm today that a garter snake was out!

 Yoo Hoo!  Charlotte yodeling down to us. :-)
Mr. No Feet trying to get some exercise and not get stepped on. 

   We finally parted company with Nelson and his family.  We made fast friends and look so forward to taking him to see Franks Flume and having more adventures with all of them.
He is more a kindred spirit than I could have known.  

   Saturday night we went to Jammin at Hippie Jacks. It was one of the most satisfying 
experiences I've ever had.   Our friends were so right that we NEEDED to get there.   It is funny when you realize you've been hungering for something , but you don't know what.. and then you find it.  Listening to that high quality music and being in that groovy, mellow atmosphere was food for the soul.  It was a rainy night and the place was packed, but we still managed to get in the sanctuary.   I was deathly car sick from back seat riding in the dark
on route 85 to get there.   I took a couple motion sickness pills and sat down and got real still.
The music took my mind off it and the nausea went away at last.   I was tickled to death to feel better.  Ugh!    Everyone was very kind and in a good mood.  Nice place to be.  

  We listened to the Bar Stool Romeos and loved them.  Next was Daniel Kimbro and Ross Holmes.  Loved them and had only heard of Daniel. Lucked out like mad and got to hear Ross too and loved him as well.   Then last but not least was the bard.... Malcolm Holcombe. I had
never heard of him until this weekend.  I had read up on him and listened to his music a little
prior to coming.  I knew he was great and I was very excited about it.  I also could NOT believe I had never heard of him as good as he is.  His music hits nerves you didn't even know you had.
It speaks to the times. It reminds us what is important. He is a dry wit and his fingers moved so fast our eyes couldn't keep up with them on the strings. His technique is unlike any other.
I sat with tears running down my face after some of his songs.   The sheer beauty of them and the message of some of them was a word in season.   

    Here is a link to Jammin' at Hippie Jacks

  These concerts are all free except for two per year which are the Memorial Day Weekend Event and the Labor Day Weekend Event.  Buy tickets for those.  The rest of the events all year
.. the way to get in is show up with donations of cash, non perishable food, childrens coats and toys.   These folks help the "invisible poor".  Fentress and Overton County and some places out in the Cumberland Plateau are hard hit by grinding generational poverty.  There are few to no jobs. Most folks are so poor they are barely surviving much less able to help their neighbors.  
Where we live there are poor folks, but there is far more aid and chances for folks to break that cycle of poverty.  Some say Hippie and his company "enables" these folks.  I call bullshit on that.   I have seen the way these folks suffer. I have seen how salt of the earth most of these folks are.   Jesus commanded us to love and help one another, not judge.   

Below is a You Tube video that is not mine, but is shot by Jammin at Hippie Jacks.  It is from their You Tube channel.  

    Here is also a link to their Facebook page.  Become part of the solution.  Donate!  
Support the work these folks are doing to help the poor.  Jammin at Hippie Jacks Facebook Page

Sunday-- Revisiting the Will Wright Tunnel 

   Sunday morning after breakfast we decided to do something short.  We revisited the Will
Wright Branch Tunnel.  It is the longest natural tunnel in Tennessee.   John hadn't got to see it 
the previous trip. Another reason to revisit was that the first time there was no water coming over the small falls on the far side of the tunnel.    We went back and had the usual ponder on where is it?
Despite having been there before we managed to come to it a different way today.   We were all
turned around.   We found it though and finally got parked and began our short walk down over the bank.  We headed into the mouth of the tunnel and there was more water today than before. 
It is a real neat place.   We made it through to the far side. Me and Odie the dog were the only ones
'who took the trouble to climb down to see the falls from below.   It was not that hard.

 Looking out of the mouth of the tunnel
Shot of the inside of the cave

The gang looking at the falls.  You can see what a big place this is!  We're down in a hole for sure.
 Looking downstream beyond where I am standing in the creek.

This waterfall here at the tunnel is about 8 ft high.  Rather pretty.

We were glad to find some water on it today.   We ended our day by going to try Simply Fresh restaurant in Jamestown! It was a fine lunch with great friends.   I had such a good time and I look forward to many more to come.

Below is a video of our time at the tunnel.  

Gabriel's First Hike on Rhododendron Creek

Gabriel's First Hike on Rhododendron Creek 

Sunday January 21, 2018

Kenny, Dana & Gabriel Koogler

  We bought a newer child carrier as we had worn our old one out.   We wanted to 
take Gabriel hiking and get him outside to test it out.  He wanted to get in it immediately on
seeing it.  The weather warmed up into the high fifties low sixties one weekend. We got
him outside to the Smokies.  We were thrilled we got him to ride in the jeep all the way to the
far side of the National Park to the Greenbrier.  It was during the couple days of the Federal
Government shutdown.    The last of the snow was melting in the shadier spots.  
 We pulled up only to find the road gated.   We decided what the heck we'd walk the road. 
We started out and just then a ranger pulled up and opened the gate!  They got the road open
far as the ranger station.  Kenny let Gabe sit on his lap and "drive" far as the ranger station.
Gabe was thrilled with that.   

    We got there to find they hadn't planned on opening the road any further.  The rest was still gated.  We were still pleased at our good fortune, and opted to walk the road the additional distance to the trailhead for Rhododendron Creek. I toted Gabe all the way there and he sang
in the pack all the way. He only stopped singing long enough to point and exclaim "Wah!" and point to the beautiful river. It was that pretty snow water color of Winter and early Spring. 
 Gabriel age 19 months
 Rhododendron Creek in Winter
 Glad to see the sunshine and blue skies and get some exercise and fresh air!

    Once we got to the trailhead we stopped and let Gabe run around.  We rested and had a snack.  Kenny toted Gabe then and carried him until nearly time to emerge at the trailhead.
His shoulder got to bothering him so we switched places again with me carrying him the rest
of the way back to the jeep.  Kelty Country child carrier is the way to go for day hikes.  
More room to carry snacks, diapers, wipes, bottles, and toys.  It is also far sturdier.

    We crossed Rhododendron Creek without any trouble.   Gabe was fascinated at the idea of
people tromping on rocks to get across!   We stopped on the other side and let him play in the water.  We'd done this with the other grandkids when they were babies.  We weren't prepared for what this boy would do.  He waded right out into the creek shoes and all up to his ankles.
I remember being the same way as a child so I shouldn't be surprised.  He played with the snow. He threw rocks. He played with sticks. He floated the toy boat on a long string.
We had to closely corral him because he continued to want to go into the stream. 

 Playing with the toy boat with Papaw. It was fun!

But not as much fun as being IN the creek! 

 Fascinated with the snow!

        We only went as far up as the first two cascades because of Gabe's little feet being wet.
He is healthy now and we don't want him to end up sick from getting chilled.   We also don't want to turn him against hiking.    
Mike's Falls on Rhododendron Creek.   Gabe liked it so much he immediately tried to go IN to the waterfall.  I need to go up and touch it and shower in it!  

Kenny helping Gabe get close without getting IN.

No.. we can't go IN the waterfall in Winter.  

Papaw's boy

Working on being a reknowned rock thrower!

Relaxing and checking out the view with "bah"..  He still likes his bottle and we are not going to hurry him to get rid of it. He's our last grandchild.  

   On the return hike Gabe started nodding asleep while on my back.  He woke up when I put him down in the jeep's rear compartment to change him into a dry diaper, pants and socks.  Shoes were soggy and cold. We headed toward Sevierville and stopped at the Shoe Dept. to get
him a new pair of sneakers.  Caught a great sale and got a good looking pair of shoes for him for $9!  I asked if he liked them to which he said "no!" ..

    He enjoyed the hike and we now know we need to do more of this sort of activity with him.
I foresee in Magicmomma's Crystal Ball of the Future... a Spring and Summer full of 
water play in the creek, the pool, lots of hikes to waterfalls, camping trips, Brrrrmmmms on the RZR, and rock throwing!  

Last of all is a short video of the waterfall and baby playing in the creek