Sunday, April 6, 2008

Into the wild, but home in time for dinner

How cool was Choose Your Own Blogventure on Friday, huh? If you haven't had your blogventure yet, go to Musings of a Semi-Coherent Mind and give it a shot; if you have and enjoyed it, go there anyway and tell NPW how awesome she is and that we should do it again sometime. I apologize to any non-CYOB blogs I may have neglected on Friday because it took most of the day to get through all the CYOB permutations while pretending to work. Some of those CYOB-ers can really write and others are just out of their freaking minds, but all were entertaining.

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.

Trail along the top of the mountain, with the higher 6,000-foot peaks to the east in the background. Tennessee is to the left, North Carolina is to the right.

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.


nancypearlwannabe said...

The most important thing that I got out of this post is this: I hate you, because you can wear shorts in April and not get frostbite.

Chris said...

I bet Jesus likes flowers, even little white ones.

Otherwise, nice post. Pretty pictures. I should have taken photos of my Saturday adventure to share, but they would have been slightly less pretty. (It involved attic insulation, of the pink fiberglass variety.)

surviving myself said...

I'm considering starting a religeon based on this post.

Any suggestions for a name?

The Modern Gal said...

For real, living in the city is so un-hipster friendly for those of us who are on a tight budget. I so don't want to move out to the 'burbs, but it may happen out of necessity.

And my guess on the tree is it ate too much chocolate and french fries. That's what my mother used to tell me when my face looked like that.

Courtney said...

Nice pictures. What the hell is up with that funky tree? Weird stuff happens on top of mountains.

Oh, and Surviving Myself: Please don't inflate Mickey's ego, because his head is ready to explode as it is. I thank you in advance.

Stefanie said...

Very cool tree pics. Also, I am impressed by your extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna. Or, flora, anyway.

em said...

That's my dream home too.

I hate hate hate to drive, otherwise I am ready to leave downtown. But if I leave downtown, I am leaving knoxville altogether.

Allie said...

Yeah, that's pretty much my dream home too.

Maybe you could just go live there -- like a squatter or something. That would solve the current housing issue, right?

Meaghan said...

You lie! You do like flowers - or at least honeysuckle. Those are flowers, right?

Nice pics, and even nicer to just wander around in the wilderness for a day. I know you need that to maintain your sanity. So on behalf of Courtney - who must live with you - good job!

Noelle said...

I like to carve my name in wood, but I prefer to do it to living trees, while simultaneously introducing foreign species and littering. And that is the best revenge I can think of to impose on the fact that you get to wear shorts already.

arbyn said...

It's too bad about the woolly adelgid. I haven't heard of it, but that's probably because I'm too distracted by the western pine beetle killing all the pine trees in my province. *sigh*...

Aaron said...

I barely left the house this weekend. That is all.

J-Money said...

You'll be pleased to learn that I purchased my very first pair of hiking boots on Saturday. The ability to walk on water was not included.

Mickey said...

npw- And right now it is 8:19 pm and the sliding door next to me is wide open because it's 70 outside. Ha.

chris- Pictures can make anything seem more interesting. Go for it, man.

surviving myself- Skepticism? Has that been taken? Or maybe the Treeists. I don't know. Let's just all worship me and call it whatever you will.

modern gal- Your mom was wrong.

courtney- Is that why my head hurts? I thought it was your constant nails-on-a-chalkboard voice.

stefanie- It's the only tree I know, and that's just because they're so easy to identify because most of them are dead or dying.

em- Oh don't do that. Stay. If nothing else, it's good to know you exist out there somewhere in Knoxville.

allie- Do you think they'd notice? What if I dress like a Tennessee farmer circa 1900? Maybe they'll just think I'm a benevolent ghost.

meaghan- It's not so much maintaining my sanity as it is a tease.

noelle- Did I mention the sliding door? See above.

arbyn- Yeah, we've got pine beetles here, too. Damn invasives.

aaron- Get out there, man. You'll start looking like a zombie otherwise.

j-money- Oooh, did I not mention hiking boots? Take 'em back. Trail runners are way better (hey, if they're good enough to run in...). Of course, you're the footwear professional.

Jacob said...

Anti-adelgidism. That's the religion.

The things on the tree are burls (it's really common in Alaska to see trees with tumors dwarfing those on that tree, but I've rarely seen them anywhere else).

As for the cause, I've never gotten a straight answer. It could be fungi, insects, or bacteria.

I looked that up for you, except for the part about Alaska. I've seen that first hand.

sid said...

Thanks for the pictures. Loved the picture of the deer and cottage. You're so lucky. Cape Town is beautiful but it's a different kind of beautiful.

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Mickey said...

jacob- Thanks for the answer. I'd still like to know the cause. You see that every once in a while, but I've never seen a tree so thoroughly covered.

sid- You live in what is supposed to be one of the most scenic cities in the world, but you're right- we do okay here.

adam brown- Cock smoker.

Jacob said...

It's possible your tree is just the woody version of cancer boy.

Julie said...

Seems to me that taking photos of deer makes you just as much of a pansy as the little white flower (ha! Pansy! No. It was not a pansy.)

Eating deer. Chasing deer down with bare hands. Aiming bow and arrow at deer. Taking pictures of the deer with nice racks so that you can come back after the minivans are gone and take it home to hang on your wall... those would have made your deer picture less gay.

Mickey said...

jacob- Thanks for the Kids reference.

julie- You're weird, but I like it.