Welcome to our personal journal.
Our goal is to share with you our unique perspective on a variety of subjects as well as stories of our personal experiences and memories of life here in the Smokies. We hope to give you a glimpse into our world, what drives us, and also a little bit of knowledge about the areas and subjects we encounter along the way.
Feel free to contact us or share your comments below.
Forney Ridge Trail
June 26, 2019
Each and every time we head out on a trail we return home with something - be it a photo that we think is good enough to share with all of you, a story, or just mere laughter and memories. About this same time last year when we hiked to Andrews Bald we happened upon a couple of hikers early on who informed us that the reason that we were going out there, to see the rhododendron and flame azalea in bloom, were not as remarkable as we’d hoped. We continued all the same and were treated with a rainstorm followed by a magnificent rainbow, then on our way back the most marvelous sun-rays we’d ever seen as written in our journal Seize the Moment. Prior to that in 2017 after our hike, rewarded with this sunset at Morton Overlook. This year we were greeted with the same news from hikers shortly after we started our journey. After the experiences from prior years we knew not to let anything dissuade us. Less than a mile in we encountered another hiker headed uphill towards us. We stepped off the trail to allow her to pass, as it is more difficult to restart on an uphill than going down. As she passed by, trekking poles in stride, her kind, weathered face lit by a friendly smile and a soft, “thank you”, we were captivated to notice that not only was she alone, but elderly and carrying a full pack.
The best we could figure she was hiking up from campsite 68, nearly three miles away.
Stupefied as we looked back at her perseverance and astounding ability to climb the difficult wet boulders and terrain that, from wanting to ask for a photo, a hug or a handshake we were literally speechless to do anything. We could only imagine the stories she could tell, although we felt it best to respect her space. Over the past several months we have had numerous challenges to deal with but at that very moment any excuses or complaints were immediately put into perspective. As we exchanged pleasantries, we are certain that she had no idea how she changed our day but also influenced our outlook altogether. From day one we’ve always told each other, “we’re just getting started” but as we look forward, a brief moment with a stranger confirmed our mantra and renewed our hopes that there will be many years of adventures to come.
April 29, 2019
“I was out with my four children and wanted to get us safely across the road. All of a sudden a lot of cars were in the way and humans were rushing toward us and soon we were surrounded. I didn’t know what to do! Thankfully a white truck pulled up and before I knew it, the humans were back in their cars and the traffic stopped long enough for us to cross. It’s hard being a bear, especially a mama, but if only there was a way that I could tell these humans that I don’t mind visitors, but please don’t get too close. I just want to stay where I live and raise my family. If only there was a way.”
Image was taken from our vehicle as we passed through a very slow “bear jam”.
We appreciate ongoing support of these animals and simply want to make clear what we believe is important. Firstly, we do not want to discourage people getting out of their vehicles in Cades Cove or anywhere in the park. It’s there to enjoy, explore, and create memories. What most of us object to is those who stop on the roadways when they see wildlife, sometimes leaving their doors wide open and vehicles running, (often unattended) to get entirely too close to an animal simply to capture a photo. Not only is it rude to those behind them, but oftentimes those in that long line are unable to see what the commotion is all about. Stopping in the roadway is simply unacceptable UNLESS there is an animal by the road showing signs it may want to cross. When people do pull over to observe and the animal is close to the roadway, they should stay in or near their vehicle and RESPECT the personal space of that animal. While the law requires one to stay back 50 yards, it’s written for the safety of the visitor AND the animal. There are times when the animal is close to the roadway so that isn’t always possible. There is a right way to do this, and it all boils down to respect - not only for the animal, but for those behind them who often miss THEIR opportunity to see wildlife, which is why many choose to visit Cades Cove where wildlife is more easily viewed. When an animal changes its behavior or direction because it feels threatened, frightened or uncomfortable by our presence, that is the time to leave. We’re infringing on their territory, and it’s no different than when we feel someone is closing in on our personal space. So please, think before you act. We are merely sharing the knowledge and experience we’ve obtained through the years. We care deeply about their safety and our actions can and do affect that.
They should not be hazed or relocated if it’s something WE as humans can prevent.
Thank you for understanding.
A Fowl Tale
January 29, 2019
Those of you who know us have come to know our hearts over the years.
We'd like to share a story with you that we promise has a happy ending.
Every week we drive by a pond at a local Community College and it's always filled with a variety of ducks, geese and other assorted waterfowl. The last few months we've noticed four swans as well. Each time, Delia has remarked about how much she would someday like to stop and photograph them. Last week as the Polar Vortex gripped our area and with the National Park closed, we decided to venture out and do just that. From a distance so as not to disturb them, we took our first images of swans "in the wild" and upon zooming in Delia noticed that there was snow and ice beginning to accumulate on their heads and drips of frozen ice on their bills.
Taken with a zoom lens from a distance and cropped.
With a heart bigger than the great outdoors, Delia went into panic mode and, at her insistence, we drove to the local Tractor Supply Company in search of sustenance for the frozen feathered creatures. With two bags of duck and goose food and a new scoop we headed back to the pond. Braving the wind chill temperatures in the low teens, we scattered feed along the water’s edge and the geese responded immediately, gobbling up the food nearly as fast as we dispensed it. Unfortunately we couldn’t say the same for the swans. Like the curious Pekin ducks, they just bobbed in the water close by, looking on as the geese enjoyed their feast. Our eyes, watering from the fierce winds and unable to feel our hands, we decided to leave with hopes that the geese would get their fill and the swans and three Pekin ducks would eventually make their way to the leftovers like the shy kid at a buffet.
The three Pekin Ducks
The geese heading to the bank when we arrived with the food.
Later that evening we uploaded our images and both of us lamented about those poor swans. Looking more carefully we remarked at the icicles dripping from their bills, then with horror noticed some sort of line at the base of one of their necks. Could it be fishing line and would this poor creature be able to survive? Then the shock intensified in an entirely different direction… hilarity. It was a seam, the swans were fake, decoys, molded of resin plastic and likely strategically placed to keep the geese away. Delia laughed so hard she cried, not only because we were fooled, but because she was incredibly relieved. We share this story simply because we thought you all might enjoy a laugh, even at our expense. Don’t go looking for our new series of images showcasing pink lawn flamingos or other various yard art. We were fooled once... shame on us if it happens again.
Zoomed in, cropped, and when we finally realized they were imposters.
~Matt & Delia
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