Where, oh where, does time go? A lot of it is in the rear view mirror, yet eternity is ahead. Psalm 90:12 reads, Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and now Virginia are all in the rear view mirror.
Moving north in order to follow the climate from winter into spring isn’t working so well for us. May is here, the climate is nice everywhere, and we want to see it all. It’s a first world problem I know, but still, choosing when, where, and how long to stay makes for interesting dynamic marital discussions.
There are a whole lot of campgrounds in the Smokies. We chose to stay several days at both Smokemont and Elkmont. Trail hiking is very popular here. Even on rain days the trailhead parking lots would be full. There are many day hikers, and bike riders, but also a hand full of purist adventurers. Lugging 40 pound backpacks and sleeping on the forest ground, is not my cup of tea.
At Smokemont campground I visited with father and daughter, Mike and Olivia. I had to inquire about their backpacks, and what all they were up to. Hiking ten to fifteen miles a day, for six day’s is pretty impressive. I hefted up one of the forty-pound backpacks, and was even more impressed. Earlier Olivia had a bear scare. The surprise encounter startled both she and the black bear. Olivia ran one way, and the bear ran the other. They filtered drinking water from streams. Ate dehydrated foods, and looked like they were having the time of their lives. As a non-parent I’ll admit to being envious of their bonding. No fooling, these two were getting along like two next-door neighbor kids going on an adventure. After visiting for twenty minutes or so we joined up into a circle, and the four of us offered up prayer for safety, and that Olivia would make her scheduled rendezvous with her fiancé. A few weeks later we purchased two units of pepper spray.
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Smokes’ and the third highest east of the Mississippi. There is a 54-foot observation tower for a 360-degree view of the Park. Traveling in the Smokey’s, and getting around the narrow, curvy, and steep campground roads has been a learning experience. The east coast has been a good training ground for traveling with the RAM 2500 truck, and a seven thousand pound thirty foot long travel trailer. I’m experimenting with the automatic six-speed transmission. Locking in a gear while going up a steep grade has been very beneficial for generating pulling torque. What goes up must come down. Traveling down hill with a lot of weight builds up speed rather quickly. Locking in a lower gear will use the engine to help break the speed, and keep the rig under control. Water will rush down the roads and create severe six inch to twenty-four inch drop offs along the pavement edge. When pulling a trailer, the trailer will travel to the inside, or outside of a turning radius. On narrow twisty roads this challenges keeping the rig between the yellow lines, and the roads edge. One has to hug both parameters, always swinging as wide as possible to avoid the trailer dropping off the edge, or veering into the oncoming lane. It’s been a gas.