The Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

I want to thank a talented young woman who writes the blog Its My Life for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. bloggerIf you are a young woman who likes fashion and makeup you must check out her blog.  She will provide you with tips and reviews that are perfect for the up and coming fashionista. I was one of 4 nominees and I can’t thank her enough for her kind comments. This is what she said: This is not a beauty blog, but I love seeing the pictures that are constantly being posted, they are beautiful. I love photography, so this blog is one of my faves, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

So glad you like them! The photos are my favorite part too.  🙂

Now for the rules:


  1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the award
  3. Share seven facts about yourself
  4.  Nominate fifteen other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated
  5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you

Let’s see, 7 facts about myself????

  1. I’m more than a cat lover. I love all animals.
  2. I believe life is an adventure so the rough spots along the way are there to give you a challenge and make you stronger to enjoy the good times.
  3. I love to travel. Although I am trying to visit all 50 states I also want to go to Costa Rica, Galapagos, Australia, Africa and Egypt. (And that’s just for starters.)
  4. This blog started out as a travel blog but has evolved to so much more.
  5. The blogging experience has introduced me to so many wonderful people (virtually) and enriched my life. (This is a totally unexpected benefit)
  6. I am blessed with 2 brothers, a sister and my mother for family. (And more nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and extended family)
  7. Growing up in the Adirondacks  my family said we weren’t “hillbillies’ , we were “ridgerunners”

The hardest part of these awards are the nominations. I work full time , write this blog, manage and and . So that doesn’t leave a great deal of time to explore other blogs. Many of the blogs I do follow are photography blogs. But so much for excuses. I won’t have 15 blogs but the ones I will recommend are wonderful and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

My nominees for the Most Inspiring Blogger Award are as follows:

  1. Learn More every Day written by my virtual friend Patty. Patty shares photos, travels and the highs and lows of life. She has overcome sadness and moved forward with grace and strength. She is an inspiration so this award seems a perfect fit.
  2. One of the first blogs I followed and one of my first supporters who has stood by me through thick and thin is Homestead Ramblings. . Her posts are full of history, family, pictures, foster pets, biblical insights. Her stories often have a moral and are often presented with gentle humor.
  3. A Budding Photographer  who works really hard at his craft is my friend JR. He has shown up in some of my posts. He has a blog too, a photography blog. You should check out his work.
  4. Another Photographer’s blog that I enjoy not just for his fabulous nature photos but also because of the witty stories he tells about each picture is
  5. Places Unknown is another photography blog. The owner travels often and takes wonderful travel photography. He even has a Mystery Location on Fridays. Fun!
  6. Do you like ruins, vampires, the Emerald Isle and all things Celtic? Then you will love the ruin hunter, Ed Mooney’s photo blog
  7. And last but not least is a blog about one of my favorite states, Maine. has posted stories about Maine weather, restaurant reviews . poems and more. You never know what you’ll get from this versatile writer.

There are several other blogs that seem to have fallen by the wayside that I really miss but since they are inactive or gone I can’t nominate them. 🙁

I hope you enjoy my nominations and help keep the blogging community growing.





Tennessee to North Carolina

A new day and another bright blue sky! So far the weather has been wonderful. I pulled out the Auto touring maps and decided to try the Newfound Gap Road. Just like a cove is another name for a valley in the vernacular of southern Appalachia, a “gap” is a low point along a ridge  or mountain range.

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The old road over the Smokey Mountains was at Indian Gap. When a lower , easier crossing was discovered it became the “Newfound” gap. Starting in  Gatlinburg you will climb approximately 3,000 feet passing through  hardwood, pine-oak and finally the evergreen- spruce- fir forest at the Newfound gap (5,046 ft.)

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Here on the Newfound Gap road it wasn’t wildlife that held your attention.

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It was the mountains. The vastness, the climb, the view to the valley below.

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At one of the many pull offs I marveled over the twists and turns of the road below me, the one I’d just traveled without a thought.

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A large parking area, a observation platform, restrooms and an entrance to the Appalachian trail all straddle the Tennessee / North Carolina State line.

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Leaving the parking area and Tennessee behind you have a chance to detour up to Clingman’s Dome.

Clingman’s Dome Road climbs about 7 miles to within  1/2 mile of the highest peak in the Smokies (6,643 ft.) There’s a large parking area and restrooms where you can leave you car to hike the last half mile to the top of Clingman’s Dome and the observation tower. Everybody sing “On top of Old Smokey”. 🙂

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Once you leave Clingman’s dome and head back down whether to Cherokee in North Carolina or back to Gatlinburg in Tennessee, it’s literally all down hill.

I continued toward Cherokee. I figured I’d arrive there about lunchtime and could decide where to go next while I enjoyed my lunch.

That proved to be a good choice. I continued to read my Auto touring guide over a sandwich at a very nice restaurant right on the main road.  The number 5 tour was the Cataloochee and from the looks of the map it might not be too far. AS I checked out and paid my bill I asked the cashier.

He told me it was still quite a hike out there and if I wanted to wait around I might see elk behind the high school right here in Cherokee. But if I was dead set on going to the Cataloochee all I had to do was follow Rt 19 through Maggie Valley to RT 278 and then watch for the signs. He suggested I get there between 5:30 and 7:30.

Seemed like a good idea to make the trip now since I was more than 1/2 way there already.

Cades Cove Wildlife

With high hopes, camera on the seat beside me I pulled off the pavement and onto the loop road.

Cades Cove Map

There’s no chance of getting lost. The 11 mile loop road is all one way.

Right away I spotted animals. Just not wild animals. Horseback riding is very popular in the park. A thinner and uninjured me would have taken advantage of the chance to ride but I wasn’t going to make myself uncomfortable or squash a poor horse to do so.

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Just beyond the open field with the horses the trees came down to the road on the right and a few straggled into the field on the left . That’s where the first deer were spotted. Cars  ahead of me were pulled over and people were pointing. The deer paid no attention. They seemed to know they were safe.

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The traffic didn’t start to move again until the deer made their way across the road in front of the first car and up the hill back into the woods.

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Not even into the loop a mile and already there was action!

The road twisted and turned weaving in and out of forest and field. No one was in a hurry and everyone was watching for the next deer or bear. Those in front passed the word back to the cars following when something was spotted.

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The turkeys were everywhere and almost as numerous as the deer. Who knew that wild turkeys were so colorful!

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I spotted a hawk of some kind but he was moving too fast and was too far away for a good shot. The line of cars continued to snake slowly forward. Then I spotted a black spot off in the shadows. I wasn’t sure if it was a bear or just a rock. I pulled over and the other cars left me in their dust. With the road clear I pulled out my BIG camera lens. Oh how I wish I had my binoculars. But with the 500mm lens I could definitely make out a back bear. Some more cars came along and those people confirmed my sighting. That bear was just so far away… I hope I’ll see another.

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Around another corner I spotted my first buck. Antlers are only just starting to grow and are still in velvet but they were definitely there. He never took his eyes off me as I clicked away.

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As the car climbed a steep hill I could see a number of cars pulled into a parking area. People were looking out over the field and pointing. I pulled in just in time to see a photographer intent on getting the perfect picture set out across the field. I searched for what had his attention and there it was. Another bear.

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The bear didn’t maul the photographer and I left before he returned because judging by the mood of the crowd, he was more at risk from them than the bear. His actions (which were a Big No No) drove the bear away so the rest of us who followed the rules, didn’t get a chance to watch it for long.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. At one point the cars ahead stopped and 3 bears, a mother and 2 cubs, were allegedly spotted in the woods but they were gone by the time I got there.  At another point I sat in the car wondering what they were looking at only to turn my head and see a deer just steps away in the woods at the edge of the road.

Cades Cove certainly lived up to the hype about the wildlife. I’m loving this!


Looking for Cades Cove

Using the Sugarlands Visitor Center as my base I started out to locate Cades Cove. For some unknown reason I thought Cades Cove was right near the visitor center like an entrance to the valley. Was I ever in for a surprise. I hadn’t gone very far when I saw a sign…Cades Cove – 24 miles! It was an over the river and through the woods kind of trip. I began to wonder if I’d taken a wrong turn.

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Now don’t misunderstand me. It’s a beautiful drive. The road is paved and shaded and meanders through forests and over brooks and streams.

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You even pass through a tunnel. This was the first of many tunnels I would run across in my Tennessee travels. I love these tunnels.

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Unlike the tunnels I drive through when I work in Somerville, which only enhance the term concrete jungle,  these tunnels blend with the natural landscape. The trees, grass and moss cover the tops and sides of the tunnels. They make me think of little hobbit houses.

There were numerous pull offs  and wide shoulders for parking. Almost every stream had a fisherman or two standing in waders.


About 13 miles into the drive near sign post #6 is a large pull off with a stone wall. As I approached I could see a lot of cars and people. There were quite a few photographers with tripods set up. I couldn’t see what they were looking at until I was almost by.  Tucked way back in the woods was a waterfall. Since Cades Cove closes at sunset I decided to wait for the return trip to stop. Maybe it would be less crowded then.

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By now I was beginning to understand why everyone at the resort told me not to go later than 3:30. It takes that long to get there!

Finally I saw the gates and a parking area with a covered education center.  Rangers had a table set up with maps and flyers and story boards surrounded the enclosure.  It was about 5:30 by now and although still 2 hours to sunset the shadows were beginning to lengthen.

The ranger was explaining to some other folks that it would get dark in the woods much sooner than in the open. He assured us that we’d see wildlife. He told us to keep our eyes open because we were sure to see deer and quite possibly a bear or two. He said the females were all out and about and most had 2 or 3 cubs.

So with high hopes I pointed my nice shiny rental toward the 2nd gate which would put me on the 11 mile, one way, loop road, which is all dirt. Somehow I doubt the car will be quite as shiny when this adventure is over.