On to more recent matters: It will pain those boosters of downtown renewal and revitalization to know that if you drive about fifteen minutes in any direction from the city center, you can get a hell of a lot more house or apartment for your dollar, with nicer neighbors to boot. Shocking, I know. Courtney and I are poor and ready to move, and it just may not be possible to stay near downtown. Sorry, hipsters.
Even more recent: I have decided to bless you with a photo-illustrated account of yesterday's adventure in the Smokies. A blessing, I say, because the alternative is a long-winded written account rife with overwrought and unoriginal prose on things like trees and the sky. Actually, you may get that anyway, but it will at least be in caption form with accompanying pictures to keep your short attention spans captivated. Maybe.
Anyway, I drove to Cades Cove, where I parked at the start of the loop road and biked the rest of the way (about six miles) to the trailhead. I then hiked (which is another word for walked) 5.5 miles up to the summit of Gregory Bald to take in the gorgeous 360-degree views. Let the photo-illustrating begin:
These are deer. Tourists love deer. At least I wasn't blocking traffic by stopping to take this picture, which is more than I can say for all the minivans and pickup trucks.
This is my dream home. Those who think I'm kidding don't know me too well. Sure, it could use a little fixing up and I doubt it's wired for DSL, but with a little love, I could get it there. Unfortunately, this historic homestead is owned by the park service and is thus the sole domain of pocketknife-wielding folks like "Ron and Tiffany 2004." I hate you, Ron and Tiffany, and every other asshole who feels the need to carve their name in anything made out of wood. Dickheads.
This is my trusty steed, locked to a tree at the trailhead. That lock isn't shit, and I'm really glad no one decided to make off with the Curtlo. I took this photo to show law enforcement just in case. 'Cause I'm sure it would've helped.
The three tallest trees in this shot (the tops of which cluster at the top of the photo) are Eastern Hemlocks, and they are dead. In fact, all of the tallest trees I saw on the hike - all Hemlocks - were dead, thanks to the woolly adelgid, an invasive pest from east Asia. The entire species is threatened and it really is sad seeing these trees, hundreds of years old, dying off so quickly and with such finality.
This tree, not a hemlock, is alive and really, really funky. Anybody know what causes this? Probably something from Asia. Maybe Pokemon.
Chillin' at the grassy, 4,949-foot top of Gregory Bald. That's Rich Mountain behind my head and Cades Cove lies between the two.
This is a flower of the little white variety. I included it for people who like flowers. I don't. I think they're gay and possibly retarded, whichever word you find more insensitive and offensive and completely unbefitting a pretty little flower.
Sometimes, at the end of a good hike, I'm so high on life that I walk on water, kind of like Jesus. Okay, exactly like Jesus. That's exactly what I'm saying: I'm exactly like Jesus.
This kind of got weird at the end, eh? At least I didn't go on about the woolly adelgid, because I could have, ya know. And then where would we be? That's right: bored to tears instead of wondering if I really have a Jesus complex or not. Well I do, okay. WWJD, mofos.