Monday, March 30, 2009

Homeward Bound

The day after the launch, we said good by to Linda and John and headed north. We had the homing instinct, but we knew there were still mountains of snow in Dixmont. Our original plan was to meander up the east coast of Georgia and South Carolina, taking our time until it warmed up at home.

We made it just over the Florida Georgia line that first day and found the beautiful Crooked River State Park near St. Marys, GA. Originally we planned to camp here several days and enjoy the trails and multiple bird blinds. That was until we got out of the truck and were attacked by swarms of no-see-ums. They harassed us all evening into the morning when we packed up as quickly as possible.

St. Mary's is just south of Jeckle Island so we spent the day checking out the restored buildings, built by millionaires in the early 1900's, the elegant Victorian hotel, complete with a group playing croquet on the lawn, as well as a few unique shops.

We tried to convince ourselves that several days in Savannah would be just the ticket, but after an afternoon in this most beautiful city, we pushed on again. The old horse could smell the barn in Dixmont.

Savannah's waving girl statue. Legend has it that a young girl had promised her lover that she would meet every ship that came to port until he returned. Guess he never did because she is still waving.

Leaving Savannah behind we angled inland toward the Great Smokey's National Park. Since this is one our very favorite spots we gambled that we would be content to hang out here for some time. Although it was still cold over night, the days had the promise of spring with some wild flowers and trees blooming.

It was the first day of operation for the Mingus mill. When we stopped, the miller had just completed grinding the first 50 pounds of cornmeal in the turbine powered mill stones. This park volunteer was a past high school principal who obviously enjoyed sharing the history and workings of this attraction.

Corn being milled into cornmeal

Starting on the next 50 pounds of cornmeal

water flume sending water from the stream into the tower that fed the turbine at the bottom

The moss covered board lined diversion ditch leading up to the flume

The next day we hiked into Abrams Falls. It was a 10 of a day and there were few hikers on the trail. When we got to the falls there were about 20 people sitting on the rocks enjoying the view and the weather. When we started back, it was a bit after noon, we passed scads of people on their way in to see the falls. Guess we timed that right.

Crossing the "gap" as it is called in North Carolina

Abrams Falls

The nest day we took the Cucumber Gap trail that travels the first two miles along the Little River. Marlin was drooling about the fishing potential, but he did not have his waders with him, and access required wading into the water.

The second half of the trail looped up into the forest where we found a few early wildflowers blooming. It was a wonderful walk and we had it all to ourselves.

Trout lilies were blooming on the Cucumber Gap trail

More early wild flowers

At the end of the trail we walked through the crumbling remains of Elkmont. This was a vibrant summer community inhabited before the formation, 75 years ago, of The Great Smokey's National Park. Property owners were offered an extension of time by accepting less money for their property. The last resident lease expired in 2001. These cabins are now on the National Register of Historic Places and the park is doing some limited stabilization work to keep them from falling down, but at this time they don't know what the next step will be.

It is a bit eerie to walk along the street and think about a summer community enjoying these woods.

Well, as much as we love the Smokey's, the homing instinct overwhelmed us after three days. We hit the road, stopping in Frederick, ME for a fun overnight visit with the Baldwins, then north again.

On Wednesday night we made it to James and Shellie's house around 5:00. The next day was Shellie's Birthday, so we took them out to dinner as a great Italian spot and had a great visit with them.

On to Dixmont, where we instantly got stuck in a foot of snow in our driveway. These are the times when it is good to know the right people. Mike Hartt came to our rescue with his extra large tractor and snow blower. What a machine. It went through that hard packed icy snow like it was fluffy feathers. Thanks Mike, you saved the day.

Getting inside presented a bit of a problem. We first had to shovel two feet of snow away from the door. I managed a skinny path, just wide enough to get the door opened. Fortunately, Jed came over the weekend and he cleared all the rest of it off the porch and walk. While Jed worked, I got to play with Jacob & Lola

We went over to Mary's to see the horses and ride on her revolving swing. Jacob liked the Super man flying position best.

Lola found my cowboy boots and hat from California and had fun tromping around in them.

We have been home a week, the house is still turned upside down, and we are already planning our trip to Alaska in May. Stay tuned.

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