Since the Great Smokey Mountain National Park is just about a 5-6 hour RV drive from our home in Alabama, we have visited here many times. We always enjoy our visits. The mountains and hiking trails are beautiful regardless of the season. Today we decided to return to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It gets the “Roaring” in it’s name because of the numerous streams/creeks that come roaring down the mountain in various locations. It is a one-way, one lane, scenic drive that is 6 miles of twists and turns, several trail heads for great hikes, water falls and beauty everywhere you look.
Rainbow Falls was our hiking destination today. It’s about a 5.5 mile, 3-5 hour hike (took us a little over 3 hours). There are lots of rocks and roots in the trail to challenge your balance. A pleasant surprise as we increased in elevation, some of the rhododendrons were still in bloom. If you don’t want to complete the entire hike, there are several smaller falls before arriving at the 85 foot Rainbow Falls. What we have never seen before are the huge crowds of people. People were distanced out on the trail so we didn’t realize how many people were actually in the park. We did use our masks when passing people along the way.
RANT The only bad part of an otherwise great day was the people abusing the park. Smoking hiking up the trail and throwing lit butts on the ground, or going off trail and climbing on water falls, or throwing trash on the ground. We understand from one of the locals we talked to in a little country store that the Park is reporting 3 times the usual number of visitors since reopening this summer. Maybe things will return to normal soon before too much damage is done. Rant over. Anyway it was a wonderful day!
We had a busy but great week since our last report. Randy and Debra were back in Alabama for followup with the cardiologist and received a great report! And of course the four of us had a blast visiting again. There is never a shortage of laughter when we are together. With all the craziness going on in the world today laughter is such a blessing. On the LOL (Little Old Ladies) front, Aunt Helen has continued to improve. Aunt Jean unfortunately has now tested positive for Covid. However, she has absolutely no symptoms. She is now 97 years old. Remarkable! All the residents get tested each week so we will see what next week brings. At this point, since Helen has improved so much, we are back to the No Visit status but we will take the no visit status if we can keep getting good reports on our LOLs.
We completed some projects at the house such as exterior pressure washing and a few other items are off the list. We also really enjoyed our first Sunday back to in-person worship at Lester Memorial. It felt really good to be back in church. We did it very carefully with distancing and masks. We also decided we were ready for a little break and were able to get some last minute reservations, so this morning we began a little road trip. We are finally out of Alabama for a while! There’s nothing wrong with being IN Alabama, but we are on the road again! Tonight we are camped at Up the Creek RV park near Pigeon Forge. We have a pull-in site looking out the front window at Walden Creek and enjoyed sitting outside eating our hot dogs for supper. So restful and peaceful and a little cooler than the past few weeks at home. Hopefully we will get to do some hiking and bear viewing while we are here.
Well, since our last update the Constructors for Christ project was finished last week.
We didn’t include in our last update that not only did Max’s brother Randy have a heart attack on Tuesday, but we received a call from the nursing home Thursday morning (the day of Randy’s second procedure), telling us that they thought Aunt Helen was dying. (It was a really bad week.) The good news is that she has also has improved. And because they thought Helen was dying, we can now get into the nursing home and check on both Helen and Jean. It was so good to get to see them both – finally. Helen seems to have stabilized again at a lower level but she is definitely better than she was the morning we got the call. And Randy is also doing well. Thank you for all the prayers.
Otherwise, we have been continuing to work around the houses and have made the last few steps in getting the truck ready to travel to our next project.
We ended our Week 4 of this year’s Constructors for Christ project last night but we were too tired to write a blog then. Other than the obvious scary event we enjoyed the work and meeting other Constructors that we don’t normally see on the projects. There is one more week of work scheduled at the church.
More importantly Randy was discharged from the hospital today and is back on the mountain with us. He has a total of 4 stents placed in the arteries around his heart and is feeling much better. And of course we are thrilled to have him here for a couple of days. Thank you everyone who sent up prayers for him. They were strongly felt by all of us. Please continue to pray for him (and Debra) as he makes a few life adjustments and heals.