Today began with our final breakfast and goodbyes to our wonderful friends at Hinton. Hinton was a great place to view the magnificent total solar eclipse and had we not been asked to help with hospitality there, we very well may have stayed at home or some other place outside of totality and missed this wonderful experience. We will definitely, if we are able, make an effort to view the total eclipse in 2024. After saying our goodbyes to Ken and Joyce, we drove over to Standing Indian to check the status there. We knew Standing Indian Campground was full yesterday due to the eclipse so we wanted to be sure we postponed our arrival until most of those leaving were out. The road is rather narrow and we preferred not to meet another rig our size. Everything was fine there so we returned to Hinton, packed up Fred and moved to the campground. As said previously, we will be without hookups and cell service. After getting set up it was time for a late lunch/early dinner. Nancy had the makings for shrimp and grits so together we prepared our little feast. This is actually our first day/night just enjoying ourselves with the new Fred, our first night without hookups. All our other travels have been project related.
After our nice little or not so little meal, we decided it was time for a hike. We decided since we have never stayed at Standing Indian we would start with one of the hikes with trail head in the campground. Nancy has been camping here since she was a child and she recommended the Kimsey Creek Trail. It was a very nice hike following a little creek. It connects with the Appalachian Trail but since we got a late start we hiked about 2 hours out and then turned around and returned to camp hiking between 7-8 miles. We really enjoyed the hike. We love the mountains. The trail was beside the stream a lot of the time. It had some pretty hard up hill sections that reminded us that we haven’t been hiking enough lately.
We returned to camp just before dark, had a snack, shower and went to bed, falling asleep to the sound of the creek flowing through our camp site. Nice day!
Today we moved to Standing Indian Campground about 25 miles from Hayesville, towards Franklin. It is a beautiful Forest Service campground with no hookups. We have to drive out several miles to make calls and post the blog. Therefore, we may not be posting much. We will continue to blog and post as we are able. Don’t worry about us if you don’t see a post. We will be checking email and messages once or twice a day. Anne’s cousin Nancy is here as well and we have had a good visit today and a nice 8 mile hike.
Wow! What a day! What a day to celebrate our 35 years together. We have been so blessed and thank God for each other.
Even though the forecast called for a beautiful day there was still some apprehension about the weather.
We started today with some stretching at the labyrinth with Hannah and then devotion in the chapel with Dawn. After breakfast Ken gave another great presentation on the eclipse which was, after all, what everyone was here to see. After that we had some free time to visit and walk around and decide where we wanted to set up for the eclipse. Then there was lunch and then time for the big, big event.
I’m sure those who only saw the partial eclipse may not understand this, but being under a total eclipse on a very clear gorgeous day was amazing. Much more exciting than we had anticipated. Without totality you miss seeing so much that goes on only under a total eclipse. We were able to experience the shadow coming over us. The weather changing with a drop in temperature and the cool wind picking up. As we approached totality there was almost a surreal look to everything. It seemed like you had your sunglasses on but you didn’t. Then right at totality you saw Bailey’s beads and the sudden burst of light with the diamond ring and then totality. The stars came out, you could easily see two planets, the Canadian geese loudly flew off, the crickets became quite loud, the people were very excited and then the look of an eyeball in the sky and it all happened so fast.
It was much better than we ever expected. An experience difficult to explain. So glad we were here and would definitely put forth the effort to do it again. Another unexpected joy of the last few days was the number of really wonderful people we met. Maybe because of the shared interest in this somewhat unusual event that none of us had every experienced but there was an unexpected camaraderie that was a blessing. What’s everyone doing in 2024?
PS. We ended this extraordinary day by getting rained on and helping wash dishes in the kitchen and it was all GOOD!
Whatever needed to be done. That’s what we did today. We could end it right there and just include some pics but guess we should elaborate a little.
First we got up early and met Els in the parking lot at 6:45 for the ride to the garden. It was just barely light when we started and a little foggy. We picked the corn in short order and were back at the campground by 7:25.
There were at least four varieties of morning glories in the garden.
After showers and breakfast it was time for worship led by Dawn who is responsible for the mission projects of Hinton. She is a deacon in the UMC and she is appointed to Hinton by the North Carolina Conference rather than a church. This was her first summer with all the youth mission teams and she loved it. We had a wonderful service in the chapel overlooking Lake Chatuge. What a wonderful worship setting. After worship we visited with some guests and spent some more time with Ken and Joyce. Then it was time for Anne to go to work. Joyce had kitchen duty at each meal today. Max and Ken also helped out washing dishes. Max and Ken also had parking lot duty. Parking lot duty has been more just walking around making sure everything looks OK. Guests have a parking permit in their cars and Max and Ken really just need to make sure we don’t have a lot of non-guest vehicles coming onto the property. The expected crowds have not appeared, at least not yet. Town is very quiet still. So the parking has not been a problem, yet. Again today Anne only stayed in the office about 20 minutes when she was asked to go to the welcome center and help out there. It was pretty busy there. More guests arrived throughout the day and with more people on campus there were more questions to answer, directions to give and do whatever needed to be done.
We were selling eclipse glasses and had an area set up so people could decorate their glasses and bling them out. When Phillip, the chef, came by to pick up his glasses, Jackie, the CEO, tried to get him to bling out his glasses. He said he was too busy but she could have at it and he tossed her his glasses. Jackie then took up that challenge and worked on blinging out the glasses. The ear pieces now say Chef Phillip and Bon Appetite with eyebrows of thyme and salt and pepper trim. We thought they turned out really well, but somehow he didn’t seem quite so impressed. Later this afternoon while Anne was still in guest services, Max was asked to accompany the disc golf tournament.
When that was over it was time for dinner, which was again very good. After dinner we had a question and answer session where Ken took questions from the guests concerning the eclipse. He did a great job! Made us NOMADS look pretty smart. Last event of the evening was the viewing of a documentary on the eclipse entitled “Totality: The American Eclipse”. It was very educational and at times very funny. We would recommend it if you have not seen it. So now it’s 10:00pm and we need to go to bed. Max has parking lot duty at 7:00 and Anne will be back in the office/guest services at 8:00. Tomorrow should be a very busy and exciting day. Totality!! So glad we are here.
Today was an absolutely gorgeous day with a light breeze and lower temperatures. One forecast says 58 for a low tonight, but national weather service has 62. Anyway, it may be open window time tonight.
First thing this morning, Max checked McCall house again and the HVAC people were still no shows so the ceiling couldn’t be completed today. Disappointing. We had a relaxing slow start to the day with breakfast at 9:00. Hinton is feeding us three meals a day. That was totally unexpected but a real treat because their executive chef, Phillip, is excellent and has become a good friend over the past 3 years.
After breakfast we check in to see if there was anything that needed to be done since we couldn’t complete McCall. Then Ken decided to set the solar telescope up in the main parking lot while there was a great view of the sun from there. Of course, that drew some attention and we ended up with several guests taking a look. It was nice to visit with the guests and listen to Ken sharing information with them. We got some neat photographs through the telescope as well.
Anne was scheduled to work in the office answering phones starting at 12:00 through 5:00. However, she got fired at 12:23 after taking only one call. She really didn’t get fired, but they decided they were just going to close the office, forward the calls to the welcome center/registration desk because there was just nothing going on. All the predicted craziness just has not started yet, at least not in this area. We haven’t been off campus today, but we are told that town is quiet and minimal traffic. The facilities here are filling up and by Monday we will have all the rooms full but they are coming in slowly.
So all four of us ate lunch together again and Els, who works on the hospitality side of things, joined us. Els does a little bit of everything at Hinton and today brought in some water melons she grew in the garden – two varieties we were unfamiliar with – black tail mountain and moon and stars. She likes to work with the all things heirloom and cut one of the black tail mountain watermelons for us after lunch. It was very good.
After lunch we relaxed, took a little nap and were then again out and about mingling with guests, answering a few questions and met up with Els again. (Sounds like a tough day?) Els wanted to show us the garden so Ken and Joyce, and one of Els’ friends went with us to the garden. There is still a lot of produce to be harvested. We picked a few things that were ready today, but we didn’t take any baskets so we are going back in the morning to harvest the corn that is ready. It was a fun outing and we have some really fresh veggies to use for next week.
By the time we returned from the garden it was almost time for dinner. We did a little work for dinner, taking up meal tickets, and helping wash dishes. We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner of grilled pork chops, potatoes, and a carrot dish that was so good we had to get the recipe. Oh my, it was a wonderful dinner. The pork chop was cooked perfectly and we will be trying the new recipe.
After dinner there was a concert on the back porch and lawn overlooking the lake. What a wonderful setting. We popped corn and provided drinks and water for the guests throughout the concert. Nice evening. Now we have to get to bed so we can go pick corn at 7:00 in the morning. Hope you are having a good weekend and don’t forget to pray for the church services tomorrow.
Let us start by apologizing for a lack of pictures today. We were both so busy working that we sort of forgot to take pictures for the blog. We had a lot yesterday so – guess you can go back and look at those and we will try to get more tomorrow. A lot of what we did today was not so photogenic anyway.
So what did we do? We started the day with all four of us – Ken and Joyce, and the both of us – working in the McCall House. We were working on installing the tongue and grove ceiling in the living room. Anne and Joyce did a lot of cleaning the area to make for a safer work site. We also rescued some lumber from the scraps at the pavilion. They were going to take it to the dump anyway and the pressure treated makes good pads for the levelers. About 9:00 Anne and Joyce began reprogramming locks all over campus. They have the push button locks on the doors and they had most set to the same code for summer camping season and we changed them back to individual codes. Anne and Joyce finished that project shortly before lunch. The guys continued to work on the ceiling but had a disappointing set back. The HVAC guys came and insulated the condensate pipe and said all was well and the guys continued putting up the ceiling waiting for the A/C to cool the house. Well, it did cool the house but soon they were getting water in the face again. There was another leak. They were sort of bummed out when they came back to the rigs for lunch. After lunch we all had a meeting with Jackie, the CEO of Hinton. She explained various possible scenarios for the upcoming weekend and gave us our scheduled tasks. When not working on scheduled tasks we will be walking the grounds checking for trash and assisting guests with any needs. After that meeting was over, the guys when back to the tongue and groove installation. You know there really isn’t much difference in the ceiling installation and all the laminate installs we did in Lumberton. The main difference seems to be working on your knees or over head. Not sure which is preferred. The girls spent the rest of the afternoon setting up Moore hall for an event Sunday. They moved and set up 15 tables and 90 chairs. When that was done they returned to McCall in time to help with the cleanup. The guys covered as much of the ceiling as possible pending the HVAC folks returning to repair the drain again. They did not come this afternoon. There is a little hope they will come in the morning and the guys could finish pretty quickly and the house would be ready for the weekend. We aren’t very hopeful that will happen.
That’s it for the day. Guests have started arriving and we met several at dinner tonight. Many more are coming in tomorrow and Sunday. It should be fun.
We started our day walking around Hinton’s campus to see the changes since we were last here. We walked down to the lake shore to see the new pavilion. For those that have been following since last fall, you may remember that when we were here at Hinton the new pavilion was destroyed while still under construction, by a severe thunderstorm. It was really a shame because it was close to completion and looked so good. It is now again getting close to completion and is again looking really nice. It doesn’t look to us that it will be competed by Monday but it should be enjoyed in the future. Max also got to see the interior of the Lake House our NOMADS team worked on last fall. It looks really nice since the cabinets and flooring have been installed. The staff are very pleased with the completed project and the Lake House is of course rented this weekend for the eclipse viewing. Hinton also has a new dock at the lake, new fire pit area by the lake and a lot of new signage. We noticed the nice new directional signage as we were arriving yesterday and saw today that it was installed all over campus.
Speaking of signage. There are all kinds of interesting signs in this area currently. There are signs in yards. There are signs in pastures that are hoping to be campgrounds for the eclipse weekend. We were told that some businesses are planning to sell parking places in their parking lots for 100’s of dollars because the police are not going to allow people to stop along the road sides. Nobody really knows what to expect. This community has been advised to stock up on food because trucks won’t be able to deliver once the roads are blocked with all the traffic. We went to the grocery store today not knowing of this advice and where shocked at the crowds. It was crazy. We overheard one local talking to another saying “Well we’ve got to get our groceries bought before all those tourists get here and buy everything.” There are also those that are concerned about the stations running out of gas because the trucks won’t be able to get here. We decided we really didn’t need much and plan to just stay at Hinton until next Tuesday.
Not sure if we ever mentioned why we are at Hinton this time. Back last spring when we were here Jackie, the CEO, talked to us about the eclipse and their plans. As we talked back and forth and made some suggestions, she asked that we come back and work the eclipse weekend. Hinton is in the path of the total solar eclipse and based on the media reports there should be many thousands of extra people in this area. Hinton has events and activities planned for their guests and needed some extra volunteers to supplement the full time staff. The original plan was for us to work with hospitality, but our “always flexible” NOMADS duties have changed many times over the past few months and changed again today from yesterday’s plans. Last week the living room ceiling in the McCall House (another building NOMADS remodeled, but not this ceiling) collapsed. The air conditioner condensate drain leaked causing it to fall. Today tongue and groove was being installed to replace the ceiling. Unfortunately, the person doing the work became ill today and won’t be back to complete the work. McCall is rented out starting Saturday for the eclipse. So at 8:00 in the morning, Ken, Max and Bill, a local NOMAD, will join Perry, the facilities manager, to complete the job. Anne and Joyce were more than willing to help as well but the living room really isn’t that large so they will be working on other tasks.
After Ken and Joyce (NOMADS) arrived and got settled in, we of course were talking about the eclipse. Ken is an astronomer and will be giving a couple of talks for the guests this weekend. Ken had a new toy to show us. He has a new hydrogen-alpha filter solar telescope. He set it up and let us look at the sun. It was too cool. We saw some solar spots and Max and Ken saw a solar flare. We had never used a solar telescope before.
So, seems things may get interesting this weekend so we will keep you posted. At least right now we have a forecast for a sunny day Monday so we hope to get to see the total eclipse.