Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Last-minute, Impromtu Vacation

Last month, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision
to travel to my birthplace...
...Knoxville, Tennessee!
A friend of mine posted on facebook once that her young daughter
asked why Knoxville has a big disco ball in the sky. LOL!
That is no disco ball,
although that is a cool idea,
but the Sun Sphere, built as the centerpiece of the
1982 World's Fair.
You gotta be THERE!
Since we were 30 years late for the fair,
Michael took the boys to a Redemption CCG tourney
which was held at a local church.
Brian played in his first tournament.
I have no idea how they did because...
I spent most of the day at the hotel sick from a lupus flare.
I did manage to venture out to the BIG used bookstore.
If I hadn't felt so poorly, I could have spent the whole day there.
I did look through most of their collection and was able
to buy most of Brian's literature books for the year.
Now, that's what I call FUN!
The next day, we went birding as a family.
I had mapped out some of Tennessee's best birding spots
 between Knoxville and the town where I grew up.
Our first spot was a wildlife area
near Strawberry Plains, TN.
We like dragonflies, too!
The fields were full of birds, particularly indigo buntings.
We also saw yellow-breasted chat, common yellowthroat,
and a variety of other warblers. In the woods surrounding
the farm, we saw a yellow-billed cuckoo.
The YB Cuckoo was on our lifelist from having heard it
but this was the first actual sighting for all of us.
In Jefferson City, a small town where my parents went
to college and only a few miles from where I lived almost
all my life, we went to a spot I never knew existed before this trip.
There we spotted egret, heron, and geese.
Soon, we made our way to my hometown, Morristown.
We stopped for pictures in front of my high school alma mater.
We thought it was interesting that the sign just happened
to show an announcement  about freshmen orientation
as I snapped the shot of my up-coming freshman.
He missed that orientation. lol
We also did some birding at one of my favorite spots,
 Panther Creek State Park.
That evening, we made our way to the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. The birding was not as great as we had anticipated.
With it being tourist season, there were just too many people
for the birds liking. The trails were all way too steep
for me to attempt to hike, too. :(
We did see some beautiful sights, though.
The boys got the chance to hang out in the Chimneys, too.
Splashing in this creek is a treasured memory of my childhood
and now is something Brian will always remember as well.
He and Michael had a lot of fun climbing the rocks.
This one reminded us of Pride Rock from The Lion King.
Brian wanted his turn to present "Simba," too.
Then they found a "horse" and became cowboys!
I think they had some great Father-Son QT!
As we drove into the higher altitudes, we did spot more birds.
But still not on the trails!
No, Ben, we are NOT hiking all the way to Maine. :)
The boys enjoyed crossing back and forth...
... and back and forth between Tennessee and North Carolina.
Brian was able to touch a mountaintop. LOL!
The guys took the long hike up to Clingman's Dome
while I stayed below and bird and people watched.
I felt better about my decision to stay behind as I
saw people in excellent physical condition
panting and wheezing. :)
Michael and the boys made it to the top, though,
and I added the chestnut-sided warbler
to my life list. Win-win!
They enjoyed the hike back down much more than the one up!
After the Dome, I pretty much forgot all about taking pictures.
We took the long way down out of the mountains
as we drove through NC, back to Georgia,
just in time for Michael to have gallbladder surgery!
What a fun trip!
I'm glad we decided to be spontaneous for once.
Happy trails!

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