Posted December 5, 2016
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Like most folks in the U.S., we had a busy November. Wow. When the weather is unseasonably mild, the holiday season sneaks up on you!
Between visits to Nekid Lady Falls (my sister’s home in the Coker Creek area of the Cherokee Mountains), a quiet and welcoming sanctuary nestled in a holler beside an enchanting creek …
… we spent a few days at the family home in Decatur, MS for some family time with my dad and my brother who lives nearby, and with Miss Allie
… an old family friend and one of the few neighbors who lives along the old country road where my family has lived for generations.
While there, dad – a retired navy aeronautics engineer – helped us to adapt our generator for LP (propane) …
…and engineered a place to store our new ladder in The Beast.
We had about ten other projects for Dad to help us with, but Turkey Day snuck up on us …
…and we skedaddled back up to Tennessee for a cozy family get-together.
We drove our son, Chris, on a Smokey Mountain tour along the Cheroholla Skyway…
…and we continued to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg (must-see destinations in the Smokies) for shopping and dinner plans. But then, smoke from numerous roadside fires, in combination with fumes due to the holiday traffic jam became so noxious we had to abort our touristy plans. Pronto, we turned toward sanctuary in Coker Creek. On the way, we passed numerous roadside fires in Tellico Plains. That night, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up … significantly. Gusts of dry wind blasted through the trees with the forceful sound of a freight train. Sleep was difficult.
No need to elaborate. We’re southern Californians. Fire is a threat we understand. Next morning, we put our son on the plane to San Diego …
… On our hour-and-half drive back to Nekid Lady Falls, we encountered downed power lines and fallen trees across across the road. We inched up the winding hills driving over huge chunks of detritus all the way. The cold, dry winds continued, unrelenting gusts between 40-70 mph blasted our trailer. We lost power several times that night. For our safety, and the safety of our electronic appliances and computers, we disconnected from the power source.
There’s a saying here, “the sky opened”. It was a powerful, merciful rain for us – but too late for Gatlinburg …
For those who have lost their loved ones, businesses, homes, we grieve with you and support you – and for the firefighters who have sacrificed their holiday for others, please know how much you are appreciated. Thank you.
Next day, Tuesday, we set off for Alabama on our usual, slow, 200 mile-a-day crawl where we overnighted at a couple of excellent city campgrounds.
So our adventure has picked up pace and, oh my, there’s so much more to tell – but it will all have to wait a couple of days.
I was born in Alabama but lived mostly on military runways in Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale and Pensacola (before I was nine years-old) and, today I couldn’t have been more pleased to say, “I told you so” when Jim, finally, had his first glimpse of a sugar-white coastline in Pensacola.