Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month was taken in December of 2018 in the Antler Hill Village area of Biltmore on our visit to see and enjoy "Christmas at Biltmore".

Monday, January 30, 2017

Follow Up to my Blog Post today about the Gatlinburg Fires

Dollywood was spared in the Gatlinburg Fires   (Internet photo)
Be sure to read my other post first  (click HERE)  --- and you may even have more comments/questions.

I decided to write this 'follow-up' talking more about some of your comments and questions.  Here are some additional thoughts.

1.  I'm not sure how they caught the juveniles who set the fire ---but they DID.   Since they are juveniles,  we have heard NOTHING else about them --who they are,  where they are from,  etc.  Since they are being 'tried' as juveniles,  I'm not sure IF we will ever hear anything about them.  For the life of me,  I cannot understand why they set that fire.... Of course,  they probably had no idea what would happen.  Wonder if they regret doing what they did now?  I HOPE SO.  

I know that, as a Christian,  we are taught to have understanding and forgiveness...  I do forgive them --but will NEVER forget what they did.

2. I read that all of the historical cabins in the Smokies were saved... I'm sure they put a priority on saving that history ---and George and I think that the Ogle Cabin and Barn could easily have been destroyed except for the work of hard-working firefighters --who were there to spray water on the cabins and keep the embers from jumping onto roofs.... Thanks for our firefighters...

3.  There IS so much love, faith, compassion and forgiveness coming from the people who live or lived in and around the Gatlinburg area.  It is amazing how a tragedy brings people together..

Seeing the people of Gatlinburg working so hard to make a living for themselves and others  made me think about all of the people in our country who are not working and who (many of them) are out there protesting one thing or another.  I wish all of those people would put their energies into helping the people of Gatlinburg (and many other places around our country) who so desperately need help.

4.   Yes---our woods will come back.... I know about controlled burns ---since we see them frequently.   Controlled Burns are GOOD for the woods..   Things will come back --will even be healthier!!!!

5.  Gatlinburg is a small mountain town sitting RIGHT up against the mountains.   People have built homes or cabins all over those mountain ranges...  Since one cannot built inside the national parks,  there's not many areas left in and around Gatlinburg...  Since tourism is such a booming business there,  the growth has happened on the north and eastern sides of Gatlinburg  (in areas around Pigeon Forge,  Sevierville and Cosby).

Sometimes,  as an old-timer who just loves the mountains and who doesn't love the water-slides and other tourist shows and entertainment areas,   I am sorry that so many cabins have been built in such a small area.  Disasters happen ---and this was the 'perfect storm' for a little place like Gatlinburg.

6. This fire storm happened SO quickly --and there really wasn't much time for people to prepare or in many cases even LEAVE for safety.  The embers were jumping from area to area --and once the storm got to an area,  it would QUICKLY just burn everything in its path as it barreled down that mountain range into a 'holler' where there were many homes/cabins.

But--as I said,  we would see one house burned to the ground and the house next door wasn't touched...  The fire just jumped around depending upon the winds....

7. I hope that Liene is correct when she said that some of the charred trees (that I pictured)  will or may come back...  I hope so... I do know that some trees are much more resilient than others... George and I will go back to that area around the Ogle Cabin in a year ---and I'll let you know what we find...

8. Linda (Behold the Beauty),  I know how much you also love the Smokies... I am anxious to see the Roaring Forks area --once they open it up in the Spring... I'll keep you posted.   I will tell you that the trail to Rainbow Falls was OPEN ---so that is good news.   (By the way,  you two need to get down this way soon so that you can have some closure after seeing the area..)



Thanks for your comments.. They mean so much to me!!!!!
Hugs,

Some GOOD News after the Gatlinburg, Tennessee Wildfires of November, 2016

George standing on the porch of the Noah  "Bud"  OGLE  Cabin, historical old farm near Gatlinburg,  TN  (1/17/16)
Most of you know that our area experienced an extreme drought for about 5 months in late summer/fall.   Because of this,  there were many devastating wildfires all around the area in October and November...  BUT---one of these horrible wildfires will be plastered in my mind forever.  The worst wildfire was the one which TWO JUVENILES SET in the mountains near the Chimneys area off of Highway 441 between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, NC.

Little did these two IDIOT KIDS know when they set that fire was that a huge weather system would bring 85 mph winds to that area --which then caused the fires to explode all over that mountain and head directly toward a wonderful old tourist town in the mountains,  named GATLINBURG,  TN.

I have been going to Gatlinburg and the Smokies almost all of my life,  and feel as if that area is truly a part of me and my history and family.  When the fires happened,  I thought I had lost some of my family.  The fire damaged and devastated so many homes/businesses/cabins/and LIVES --as it reeked havoc on the entire town and areas around Gatlinburg.

On January 17 and 18,  George and I made a trip to Gatlinburg  (as we usually always do this time of year).  While there,  we checked out many areas which had been devastated by the fires... It was SO SO SO SAD to see these areas.

BUT--there is always good to come out of bad!   Here's some of the good:
-the beautiful little downtown area of Gatlinburg (for the most part) was NOT damaged (even though the fire came so very very close)
-the people there who lost SO much tell such wonderful, heart-felt stories of strength and faith  (amazing how the strength of people can help us)
-the woods/mountains will come back;  That is just NATURE.

I'm sure there are many many GOOD stories,  but today,  I'm sharing another GOOD story for you.... See that picture at the top?????  That is the Noah "Bud" Ogle old home-place,  originally built in 1879.  This old historical landmark is located on Cherokee Orchard Road  not far from downtown Gatlinburg.  George and I were anxious to see it ---and were THRILLED that the old home and barn  somehow made it through the fires (although it's obvious that the fires had been all around that area).  I cried with JOY when we saw this piece of history in ONE PIECE.

I will share pictures of our little hike in and around the Ogle Cabin on 1/17...   It's sad to see the fire damage ---but it was GREAT to see that cabin in tact!!!!


Old Fireplace inside the home


I stood on the back porch looking at how close the fire came. Wooooo.




I love this old chimney.  Have you ever seen one like this?



Here's another angle of the back side of the cabin.   Can you see how close the fires were?  YIPES.



We hiked a loop trail around the back of the Ogle property.  Some areas were totally undamaged by the fire.  Isn't the creek pretty?



Then we saw many areas just like this... So sad.



And this......



But then,  we'd see this!!!!!!  (Amazing how the fires moved around --missing some things and damaging others;  It was those 85 mph swirling winds I'm sure.)



The hike ended above the house near the barn.  



This is the barn ---so you can see how close the fires came to it also. YIPES.



I love this old fireplace in another room inside the house.



Here's another picture taken from inside the house looking at some of the fire devastation.



Just have to share one more picture of a tree damaged or destroyed by the wildfire...  



Finally, the beautiful   OGLE CABIN ----still standing and still beautiful
I will admit that seeing the damage around the Gatlinburg area was heart-breaking ---but I am glad I visited there.  It brought some closure for me,  as hard as it was.  BUT---this post today is to help you (all of us) to see that GOOD THINGS can come from tragedy.

Continue to pray for the people of Gatlinburg.   Cleaning up and rebuilding will take lots of time and money and effort.  Volunteers are always needed...

Hugs,

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tremont area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 1/17/17

Two happy people enjoying the cascades and rock formations along the Middle Prong of the Little River (in Tremont--Great Smoky Mountain National Park)
George and I enjoy going to the Smokies during the OFF-SEASONS...  We usually always visit that area during January.  This year was no exception.  BUT--there was one difference from most Januarys in the Smokies.  This year,  the weather was MILD.. Even though there was rain around the area,  we didn't have too much where we were..   We cannot complain about the rain though since we need the rain to help with the horrible drought our area had this past summer/fall.

This latest trip  (1/17 and 1/18) was a quickie ---but we got alot accomplished  in those two days:
- First,  we went to the Tremont area (near Townsend) and did some hiking and enjoyed taking pictures along the Middle Prong of the Little River,   of the water, rocks and the cascades.
-Then we did some family business in the area.
-Then we drove around the Gatlinburg area ---seeing for ourselves the horrible damage  done by the wildfires a couple of months ago. DEVASTATING!
-We took a hike (Nature Hike) around the area where the Ogle Cabin is (off of Cherokee Orchard Rd).  Saw fire damage in that area --but luckily,  the historic Ogle farm was spared.  That made me very happy.
-Then we checked into our motel for the night,  Rocky Waters.
-It was then dinner at the Applewood Farmhouse in Sevierville...  DELICIOUS.
-The next morning,  we had Pancakes and French Toast at the Atrium Restaurant (local restaurant in Gatlinburg).
-Then it was off to see some more horrible fire damage and devastation.  SO SAD.
-After that,  we did some more business for some family members.
-Then --it was on to the Greenbriar area (on the road to Cosby).  We LOVE both Tremont and Greenbriar --but Greenbriar is always a favorite of mine.  We stopped and hiked all along the creeks in that area ---taking LOTS and LOTS of photos to share.
-After leaving Greenbriar,  we headed home,  stopping in Knoxville for some dinner at the Texas Roadhouse...

Awesome little trip --and we really did get a lot done.... It's so nice to be in the Gatlinburg area when there are fewer people and less traffic...   We LOVE LOVE LOVE Gatlinburg ---and are so happy that most of downtown Gatlinburg was spared from the wildfires which did so much damage to the area.

My pictures today are from the first part of our little trip ---of our time in the TREMONT area.. Hope you enjoy the pictures.  You can click on them for enlargements.


I love seeing the water --and especially all of the rhododendrons on the other side of the creek.




The SUN actually came out (for a short while) while we were enjoying the water..



George is in 'heaven-on-earth' when he has time to take excellent water shots.



I LOVE LOVE LOVE George's  'silky' water pictures!!!



The gravel road in Tremont (and in Greenbriar) takes us WAY back into the gorgeous Smoky Mountains... The farther we go---the more beautiful the water is!!!  Can you see our Prius parked over there?  We had the area to ourselves!!!!  



Wish you could have been there to just sit and hear the roaring water... AWESOME.



George took this picture of a happy woman who LOVES the Smokies!



Another great picture captured by George



Another shot of us,  showing off our new shirts (which we bought on our December trip to Ocean Isle Beach).   (BUT--we didn't leave our jackets off much at all on that trip.. It wasn't 'cold' --but it was COOLISH in those mountains.  ha)

Hope you  enjoyed some of our pictures from Tremont.  It is a gorgeous area of the Smokies --so don't miss this area if and when you visit.

Hugs,

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee 01/03/17

Mark,  Debbie,  Mom --at the Cane Creek Falls Overlook 
George and I were SO privileged to have son, Mark, and his fiancee, Debbie come to our home to visit us from Jan. 2-4, 2017..  What a fabulous visit we had with these two lovers.  This is Mark's 2nd marriage --and I truly have never seen him so happy  (with the exception of the times his two gorgeous daughters were born).  You must know how happy that makes  this Mama feel!!!!!  He truly found his 'soulmate' when he met Debbie.  These two adults LOVE to laugh and have fun---and they  love life to its fullest ---constantly.  They are the type of people everyone loves to be around.  They certainly make me feel YOUNGER.   Their wedding will be in June...

After Mark and Debbie visited  us (with lots of other family members) for just a few hours a year ago,  I requested that he and Debbie come back and spend more time with us... Mark remembered my request --and honored it...  Even though I have known Debbie for over a year ---she and I had LOTS of time to really get to know each other.   All of us sat and talked/talked/talked for 2 days.... It was fantastic!!!

We stayed home and just chatted on their first day here .  BUT--on January 3rd,  we got out and had some fun.  First of all,  during the morning,  Debbie and I went shopping.. That was neat for me to do with this new 'daughter-to-be'....   We had a fun morning.   Then during the afternoon,  Mark,  Debbie and I went to Fall Creek Falls State Park,  about an hour south of our home here in Tennessee..   George volunteered to stay home so that he could make a great dinner for us (Chicken Cordon Bleu)...   We missed him that afternoon --but the dinner was definitely delicious and nice for us to enjoy when we got home!  Thanks,  Honey!!!

All of my pictures today are from our afternoon at Fall Creek Falls.  We got lucky since there was rain all around us --yet,  we didn't have any at all where we were!!!!!  YEAH!     We did some hiking,  saw SIX waterfalls,  and I LOVED taking tons of pictures of these 'kids'.... Hope you enjoy our pictures!!!



Cane Creek Falls --from an overlook;  Too bad the sun wasn't shining --since we love seeing rainbows at that waterfall.



The CREEK below us at the Cane Creek Falls overlook



Rock House Falls;   I was glad to see LOTS of water here (due to recent rains) --since this waterfall sometimes doesn't have much water... On this day,  it was beautiful.



Standing at the brink of the Cane Creek Cascades  (Mark always makes me LAUGH.)



Tons of water coming over Cane Creek Cascades  (We climbed down the rocks in order to get up close and personal with the waterfall!)



This DANGER sign  down the rocks to the bottom of the cascades kinda 'worried' these two kids.... NOT really.... Just being SILLY...  ha ha.



I took a lot of pictures of these two while we were at the cascades... Even though it didn't rain --we all did wet from the mist! ha



This is really UP CLOSE and PERSONAL for sure... My camera lens even got wet.. BUT--I love this shot...



" I made it!"   Debbie was happy to make is back up the rocks when we were leaving the Cascades...  (I think that the Cascades area was our favorite part of the day.  Amazing how powerful that water was!!!!)



Mark and Debbie on the 'not-so-safe'  wiggly SWINGING BRIDGE  which goes across the creek above the cascades.    Since I don't 'do' that bridge,  I volunteered to take photos!!!!  Wish you could see Mark wiggling the bridge  and scaring Debbie!!!!  He was having so much fun --but she made it!!!!!  BRAVE GIRL.



Mark being BRAVE on that  wiggly bridge.... Love this picture of my fun-loving son.



After we left the Cascades,  we visited the George Hole area  (which is very special to George and me --since I got my first kiss there)..  This picture was taken at the little dam in the George Hole area.



Next,  we visited Fall Creek Falls and Coon Creek Falls. 



Mark and Debbie at Fall Creek Falls  (probably the most photographed area in the park)



We then traveled along the GORGE area --and took this picture at Buzzard's Roost.  Can you see the RAIN in the background?



While Mark and Debbie hiked down to the edge of the gorge,  I took this picture of the rains around...



Here's another picture I love.  We (even I) crossed the not-so-wiggly Swinging Bridge in the Piney Falls area.   This is one of my favorite areas in the park.  There's a little hike down to the creek on the other side of the bridge.  What a great place to visit --especially on a hot summer day!   It would be a great place for a picnic lunch!!!



Debbie and I stood on the bridge while mark hiked down below to the water...  (I did not get a picture of Piney Falls on this trip.  We could hear it --and it is a huge waterfall.  BUT--we just couldn't get a good view from here.)

Mark and Debbie left for home (Texas) the next day... I miss them so much --and all of the energy they gave to us... Thanks for coming,  Sweethearts... We love you!


**********************************
Mark Edgar Wilhite  1/15/70
Finally,   I am including this picture of my adorable son-- since yesterday was his 47th birthday!!!!  Mercy Me---how time flies!!!!  I know that Debbie had big plans for them to have a fantastic weekend together...   I'm sure I will hear about all about that celebration soon.

Happy Birthday,  Mark, and thanks for your visit.   We will see you two in JUNE for another happy celebration.....

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Hope all of you Blog Friends and Facebook Friends enjoyed this visit as much as we did.

Have a wonderful week..

Hugs,