Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mingus’ Mill, Clingman’s Dome and Sugarlands Visitor Center.

11/2/13 Saturday at Waynesville, NC (Creekwood Farm RV Park-PPA ($16/night)

Brrr. Cold this morning. Hard to get out of bed, so it was 9:30 am before we left for the Park.We took the Blue Ridge Parkway to the beginning of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Bunches Bald Overlook

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At the Smoky Mountains we see the Mingus Mill, still operating since it was remodeled in 1968.

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The first photo is of a Bolting Chest, powered by the mill’s turbine. The sifting (grades from fine flour to bran) was accomplished by passing the flour through the inside of the rotating horizontal wooden reel that was covered with “bolts” of progressively coarser cloth. The second photo is a Wheat Cleaner. This machine cleaned the wheat (before it was ground into flour) by using air and a fan to blow dust and trash out of the grain.

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The upper half of the Smoky Mountains Park is basically in Tennessee, whereas the lower half is in North Carolina. When we crossed into Tennessee, the colors were much brighter. Such a joy. Our first stop in Tennessee: Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower-where you get a 360 degree view of the Great Smokey Mountains. You get to walk a steep hill (at 6643′ elevation) for a half mile to get to it, though. Of course, as we were climbing that asphalt path the skies grow in black clouds. By the time we were at the top, most of our view was fog. As we walked down, we saw some beautiful scenes.

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From the top. At the upper right you can see the Appalachian Trail, at its highest point. We walked a little bit of it.  Cool to think that we’ve been on the Pacific Crest Trail now as well as the Appalachian Trail-at its highest point too.

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On the walk down to the parking lot.

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As we were eating our lunch in our car (it was 42 degrees out there) it started hailing.  The wind was harsh as well, especially up at  the Observation Tower.

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On the way down the mountain, still on the Tennessee side, the colors were just lovely, better than on the North Carolina side.

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Sugarlands Visitor Center. Here the ranger gave a talk about the Civil War in the Smokies. The gist was that no major battles happened here, but many small skirmishes. Then we checked out their little museum of the diverse flora and fauna that exist in the Great Smoky Mountains. There is greater diversity, for a temperate climate area, than any other.

Some examples: (Enlarge the photo by clicking on it). The last image is of Opossums, a creature we see most often squashed on the road.

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Next we watched a movie about the people who lived here as well as the diverse plants and creatures. Part of this is due to the high and low elevations (800 feet) in the Park. Then we walked the Nature trails outside one of which led to a waterfalls, the other led to John Ownby’s cabin:

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This was posted near the falls, yet a man was cavorting on the other side of this sign!

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It sprinkled on us a bit as we walked the trails, but once we got in our car and on the road, it started pouring. Boy did we time that one well. I took photos, but between the wipers, the stopping/starting cars (it was crowded), they came out differently. Some were more like an Impressionist painting, I just loved them. Kind of like at the top of Clingman’s Dome where we were disappointed because there were few good views yet we came upon beautiful ones as we walked down. Similarly, the rain made it hard, but some cool photos came out of it.

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As we were passing Oconaluftee Visitor Center we noticed lots of cars and then the elk. By the way, we’ve seen turkeys here several times, so in that aspect it is like the Natches Trace.

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Later, we came upon some more beautiful scenes. What a lovely way to end our day.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
This entry was posted in National Parks (NPS), North Carolina, Tennessee and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mingus’ Mill, Clingman’s Dome and Sugarlands Visitor Center.

  1. Judy says:

    What a lovely day. It brings back memories, not of that particular part of the Parkway, but of living in the upper south. Beauty and civility, nature and history. The rain-spattered photos are evocative

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