Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"They Call Me Paul With Bunions"

Dawn arrived after we had been on the road for about half an hour. We had traveled through Gatlinburg looking for the Historic Nature Trail to Roaring Fork, an area described in the tour books with the following: "...the forest will close in around you, spreading over the road and creating a mood of isolation--a serene detachment...."

On the way out of Gatlinburg, we saw clouds hovering over the mountains--a sight which always grabs my attention.

The Nature Trail became a one-way, one-lane road as we approached the Noah "Bud" Ogle Place. Behind the home is the barn. The barn was so critical to a family's daily life (draft annimals and dairy cows were lodged there, chickens and pigs hung around there, and tools and equipment were stored there) that the barn was often built before the home.

The home consists of two large rooms, two lofts, and a central fireplace with openings to both rooms. The second room was added to accommodate the growing family. Near the home is a pile of rocks--all that is left of the "honeymoon" or "weaner" cottage in which newlyweds were allowed to live for one year while establishing a place of their own.

Leaving the Ogle Place, we continued on the one-way road until reaching the road to Roaring Fork. One look at the even-narrower road that disappeared after a few yards behind the heavily-wooded area told us that the six-mile drive to Roaring Fork could create "a mood of isolation" that might be a little too confining.

We implemented Plan B: follow roads leading to the cloud-shrouded mountains. After driving to Cosby, we took the road leading to the mountains. We were on Route 32 for what seemed like 20 miles (we learned much later that it was actually 11), and my hands were rarely out of the "10-2" position on the steering wheel. We met no other vehicles during the 11 curve-filled miles--fortunately.

As the paved road turned to a gravel one, we met a hiker. In answer to my question, he said that the gravel road joined another in about one mile, but there was a look of concern on his face. He added that he was just wanting "to get back to Route 321 because they have been having trouble with bears here." He asked if he could hop in the back of the truck and ride with us for the next three miles to where the road joined I-40. "Sure."

This photo was taken through the windshield as we drove down the gravel road.

When we reached the intersection for parting, our hiker passenger seemed genuinely grateful for the ride, and we were happy to have some knowledgeable guidance. After jumping out of the truck bed, our mid-forty-ish fellow traveler grabbed his rather bulky backpack and thanked us for saving him a lot of walking. "My hiking name is Paul With Bunions. Thanks again." And was gone.

I believe things happen for a reason and that we were supposed to be there to give him a lift.

We had traveled into North Carolina, so after we had been on I-40 for a short distance, we stopped at the Welcome to Tennessee Information Center. I asked about the road we had just been on, and the staff member said that MapQuest sends people on that road to Gatlinburg. "People come in here pretty shaken after driving that road."

We then traveled the six miles on the eastern portion of the Foothills Parkway on our way back to Sevierville. The views from the overlook were spectacular.

Remember my comments about having adventures.

This is a beautiful area, so I think we'll be looking for more adventures.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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