Monday, September 4, 2023

Helen, Gatlinburg, Marietta, Friends and Family

As I said in the last post, the weather in Florida has been crazy hot all summer. This is not what we had in mind when we bought the condo. Our intent was to travel to the cooler climes in Opus to escape the heat. Since we sold Opus during Covid we are here more then we planned. That said, when we do head north we like to take a couple weeks to get to WashPA rather than doing it in two long quick days. 
We left Stuart on August 2. Near Atlanta we found another Buc-ee's so we had to stop. Just this week there is a report that a new one is going to be built near us in Ft. Pierce. 
Our first stop was Helen, a little town in North Georgia, with an Alpine Bavarian theme.
Helen was originally a logging town that was going through some hard times. In 1969 they mandated that all buildings where to be German style.  It has become the state's number two tourist attraction. 
During the two days of our visit, there were very few people as school had started and one day was very rainy.
We did find the Hofbrauhaus where I enjoyed a German beer and pretzel. We also found a couple of very good restaurants so Helen could be a place we may return to. 
From Helen it was a short, but winding drive through Great Smoky National Park to Gatlinburg with a stop in Cherokee, NC where Nanc met Sasquatch.
When we checked into the hotel they said if we could walk a ramp we could have a room on the river. This was not what we had in mind, but it worked. 
Our view of the river from our room. The view, the price and being able to walk to most things were the only good things about the place.
We did have an unexpected visitor who spent a lot of time in the tree across the river.
This is from the other side. Most people walked by and never noticed him.
We wanted to hike and found a nice five mile hike along the river to the visitors center. We were appalled at the way people had graffitied up the sign. Shame on anyone who does this. 
The walk along the river was cool, flat and easy. One thing that has changed since our last visit to a national park, you need to purchase a parking pass for $5.00 each day or $15.00 for a week. This is understandable as Smoky Mountain National Park is the busiest. 
Welcome to Gatlinburg. Understand that the town is nothing but shops selling imported junk (even the tRump Store), moonshine and marijuana.  There are many restaurants and bars also. Unlike Helen, this place was packed with people all week. One day we drove to Pigeon Forge to see Oppenheimer. During the movie we heard several loud booms that we thought was part of the movie. Instead, it was a storm that closed the main park road for two days while they cleared trees.
When we went to the visitors center to get our parking pass the ranger was just opening the road to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park. Finding a parking spot there is normally an issue so we decided to go for it not knowing if it would be clear at the top. There I am waving through the clouds.  
Even though it was August, it was spring like at the top with many flowers just blooming.
The trail is paved and only a half mile long, but it is steep (13% grade) with a 332 foot elevation gain. The clouds where moving very fast and sometimes opening up enough to give us a great view. 
When we looked back on our way down the tower was out of the clouds. The walk to the top is well worth it as you never really know what you are going to see.
On the drive back down we stopped at Newfound Gap that is 1600 feet lower. The view here was a bit better. You can see the road to Cherokee winding through the forest.
Another day we decided to hike to Rainbow Falls. It was not much longer than our hike along the river but the elevation gain was over 1500 feet. While we do walk a lot in Florida, our elevation gain is usually about 25 feet. Here is Nanc all smiles, while I was worn out by the time we got back to the car. Down hill took me longer than going up.  
You never know what you will see in the woods. This little guy was enjoying a spot of sunshine. We did see a bear and were very happy it was moving away from us. Other hikers told us they saw a mama bear with two cubs.
Rainbow Falls but no rainbow as the sun was not in the right place. Look closely and you can see a person standing at the base of the falls. 
A fancy fungi we saw along the trail. 
I thought this was Alf checking us out from behind the trees. Even though I was toast by the end, this is a worthwhile hike and there are not a lot of people because of limited parking near the trail head. We enjoyed our time being outdoors in the park with comfortable temps, but the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with all their tourist traps are on the been there done that list.
Our next stop was Marietta, OH to see family and check out the town. Marietta is a regular port for river cruise boats. The American Countess was visiting one afternoon.
Marietta is at the confluence of Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. Built in 1788, it was the first settlement in the Northwest Territory of the new United States. 
Matt, Morgan and Archie. He is our first great great family member. He sure is an active kid.
Only 18 months old but ready for the bike rodeo event in the park.....
....but not to sure about getting covered with foam.
Here he is with great grandma Judy and great great aunt Nancy.
All that running and riding makes a kid hungry. As you can see he loves spaghetti. 
Only picture I got of Aunt Jackie and Grandpa Lou as they helped Archie walk off the big plate of spaghetti. 
Nanc, Jim, Emma, Morgan and Betsy out for dinner. Lou, Betsy, Emma and Jackie lived in Hawaii the last couple years and just moved back to Marietta. It was great getting to see all of them.
As many times as we have been to Marietta we have never been to the Campus Martius Museum. The museum tells the history of the city and the Northwest Territory, the land north of the Ohio River.
The museum was built in 1928 over the top of the Rufus Putnam house that was part of the original fortress built in 1788. When the stockade was being removed Putnam purchased some of the wood and enlarged his house.
Most of the materials in the house are original with some replicas.
Another look at the house with the later addition in the rear.
A map showing the Northwest Territory in 1788.
Another exhibit dealt with Gunsmithing done by the Vincent family. They only made a few guns a year. 
The finished firearms. This is the kind of weapons used when the 2nd Amendment was adopted.
This exhibit shows Pioneer life of the early people. The museum is well worth a visit if you are near Marietta.

We are now back in WashPA until September 22. That evening we will be flying to Europe for 19 days touring the United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium and France. Eleven of those days will be a cruise on the Norwegian Dawn and then we will visit Normandy and Paris on our own.


heyduke50 said...

Glad to see you were able to beat the heat.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Great post. A eastern diamondback rattlesnake and a fly agaric mushroom, both deadly. You can die just from touching the mushroom. Love your pictures!