Day trip to the mountains

20130422-221634.jpgLast weekend Matt and I took a little hiking trip to the Smokies. This was sort of a rarity for us, since going to Gatlinburg usually involves pancakes and shopping. We did still include the pancakes…those are great fuel for hiking, right?!

We originally planned to hike the Chimney Tops, but after driving all the way up there found it was closed. Guess Sugarlands visitor center couldn’t bother to mention on their gigantic flashing sign that one of their most popular trails wasn’t open. Our second choice was Rainbow Falls. On the way we stopped at the Noah Bud Ogle trail (previously called Junglebrook).

20130422-222406.jpgAs you can gather from both names, it’s a scenic trail along the stream that flows through Noah Bud Ogle’s homestead.

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20130422-222757.jpg Mr. Ogle had a little mill on the stream, too.

20130422-222935.jpg Next we drove on toward Rainbow Falls. But when we got there the parking area was completely full and cars were lined at least a mile or two down the street! Since we didn’t particularly want to hike with 100 of our best friends, a third option was in order. By that time it was after 2:00, so it couldn’t be a particularly long trail. We decided to try for the Alum Cave Bluffs. And it wasn’t closed or packed with other hikers!

20130422-224553.jpgThis is arch rock, about halfway up the trail.

20130422-224637.jpg And the stone stairway inside…

20130422-224706.jpg Getting close to the bluffs there were some great mountain views.

20130422-224751.jpg It was sort of impossible to get a good photo of the bluffs without falling off the mountain, but here’s one looking out from underneath.

20130422-224854.jpg Matt took some good pictures too that you can see here if you haven’t already. Glad he could include a photo of me with a hideous bruise on my leg. I was injured by some milk crates at work…and yes, it’s STILL there. Also, it was too chilly to hike in Chaco’s like usual and I realized that I had no idea where those hiking boots I had in high school got off to, so I wore my running shoes. And diligently avoided all mud and puddles. They fared pretty well.

I’m blogging!

I know, I can’t believe it either! But I thought you might like to know what we’re up to half way around the world. Who knows, maybe I’ll even keep it up when we get back…

So if you’ve completely missed the memo, Matt and I are in Berlin. We got here yesterday around 11:30am after three uneventful flights. We’re seven hours ahead of you here(if you’re in central time). We are renting an apartment which I will post pictures of tomorrow, because it’s dark right now, and I don’t like to see pictures of peoples’ houses in the dark. It’s a nice apartment with one bedroom, one bath, a kitchen, a living room, and lots of Ikea furniture. Speaking of Ikea, we went there today. Berlin has FOUR, as it turns out, and I would obviously be amiss if I let this opportunity pass me by!

Actually, the main purpose of our visit was to buy a shower curtain. I like everything about the apartment except the shower, which I currently hate with a passion. Apparently the European thing to do is the place the shower head on the wall in the very center of the shower, pointed at the curtain. Maybe most Europeans are taller than I am, because when I stand there the water is pointed directly at my face. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since I could just angle it as far as it would go toward the back of the shower, but, secured though it was with three different bottles, the shower curtain would not stop blowing in and by the time I was done I may as well have taken a bath in the middle of the room.

So we bought a curtain from Ikea that clearly stated it was weighted at the bottom so as to stay where it belongs, however, it was as fatally attracted to me as the first. I’ll be sure to let you know if this situation improves, since I’m sure you are as concerned about it as I am.

We haven’t done anything terribly exciting yet, although we have taken the metro, U bahn, and S bahn several times. We have tickets that work for all of them, but don’t ask me which one is which. We’ve taken it most to Alexanderplatz, which is just a few minutes away and has lots of shopping and eating places. We went there today to find Matt a raincoat, because it is freezing here! Highs in the 50’s and lows in the 30’s. I hope it warms up soon, because I took all the long sleeve shirts out of my suitcase to get it under fifty pounds…

Today we also went to a grocery that’s within walking distance of our apartment. We must have hit it really lucky, because this grocery is the Bio Markt, and is pretty much the European version of Whole Foods (my favorite grocery store on the planet). I could not believe how many varieties of vegetarian hotdogs they had.

I don’t know what we’ll be doing tomorrow, or any other day, for that matter. But to tide you over I do have a few pictures (but not of Berlin). We have a garden in our backyard in Knoxville, and the day we left I was able to pick something from it for the first time:

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I then proceeded to have them for breakfast.

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