Cross-Country Travel, Chapter 2

June 1, 2002-June 12, 2002

I started in Atlanta, and then headed to northern Georgia, to the mountains and National Forests. Northern GA reminded me a lot of NH, and I started to feel relieved to be out of FL. In GA I did alittle four-wheeling in the National Forest, camped at the highest lake in GA, drove to the highest mountain, and then headed to Asheville, NC. In Asheville I went to my favorite Chinese Buffet, and got ready to head to the Great Smokey Mountains.

The Smokey Mountains are nice, but there is a reason they call them “Smokey.” The humidity is outrageous. Basically everything is damp all of the time — the rocks on the hiking trails which go below the surface all sweat because the dewpoint is probably about 90 degrees. Of course, The Smokeys have a lot of hiking. I climbed 6600 ft. Mt. Le Conte, where I ate the best pickle/pimento loaf with American cheese on wheat/almond bread sandwich I have ever had. At the bottom I figured I’d ask some local hikers where I could find a swimming hole. They started talking about “the Y.” I thought somehow “swimming hole” translates to “heated pool” in Tennessee, but I didn’t want to insult the guys… Turns out “the Y” is a Y in one of the rivers in the area. Anyway, since I bashed my toe on a log in the river, I didn’t do anything too strenuous the next day. I did climb a shorter trail to a cool 360 degree view, though.

After the mountains, I spent a night in Knoxville, and decided to check out the old downtown (a guy I met hiking told me a place I should stop). I happened to find “Sundown in the City,” which is a free concert Knoxville holds every Thursday, where they have beer (well, Budweiser, anyway). All the variety that Knoxville has to offer was there. Not many nationalities represented, but lots of different natives – city folks, hicks, old people, young people, old people trying to be young, young people trying to be old,some hippies, somepeople trying to be hippies, etc… Ihadworked hard on ascruffy goatee for a couple weeks, which helped me fit intothe crowd a bit.No need to worry, though, I’m not going to bein the southlong enough to grow a mullet.

Anyway, I found the Big Fork National River Recreation Area (yeah, that’s a mouthful), and hung out there over the weekend, where I did some mountain biking, and checked out an “interpretive”historic mining community. Then on to Mammoth Cave National Park, and I finally met someone doing exactly what I am doing (He wasn’t very talkative, though.). I did the 6 hour “wild cave” tour in Mammoth Cave, and I have to say, Mammoth Cave looks … exactly like every other cave I have been in, but it was cool to go caving again. One of the first things the ranger tells you when you go in the cave is to warn the people behind you of what is coming up. One woman, being very conscientious, said to her husband behind her, “squeeze honey.” The next thing we all heard was “no, not me!” After the cave tour I had a real hankering for something to grill, so I stopped in at the campground store, and asked if they had any hamburger: “we sho’nuff doesn’t yo’ hafta hoof it ta town fo’ thet,” (translation courtesy of: http://www.rinkworks.com/dialect/), of course, I could have bought 8 hot dogs to grill, but, instead,it was soup as usual.

After Mammoth Cave, I stayed in a pretty sweet hotel (thanks Priceline) in downtown Nashville. I got some good ribs, but the music didn’t do much for me:) Oh, yeah, and on the way to Nashville, I toured the Jack Daniel’s distillery. My clothes smelled like whiskey and mash all day:)

I left my car at the Toyota dealership,and flew to NH from Nashville.

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