Category: Towns

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Thursday, September 30, 2021

53° at 6:00, batteries at 45%, fresh water tank 0%

I went to the Museum of The Cherokee Indian. The town of Cherokee is in the middle of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, 57,000 acres of land, known as the Qualla Boundary. Their land covered large parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky and measured in square miles before President Jackson threw them out, marched them on the “Trail of Tears” and took their land. 

It is a large and excellent museum. It walks you through history starting at the Archaic Period 9,000 – 900 BC, showing relics from that period. In the Mississippian Period a new kind of corn was introduced, which changed things for the better. I was very interested in how they fired pottery when there were no ovens.

The history of basket-making was detailed with some huge baskets, at least one surviving from its original time. Also interesting were the tools they were able to make with wood, leather and stones. Hammers, picks, axes and of course, arrows and spears.

Their games were described, some with serious competition. Stickball was huge as well as Chunkey. Hunting and fishing would have been incredible in this area. There are so many streams and rivers.

And then the Europeans arrived. One sign describes it perfectly. At first they prospered with new tools, new ways to farm and guns. King George forbid whites settling i”n the Appalachians and all parts West. We thought we would be safe…..but then came the American Revolution.

Sequoyah, who wrote Cherokee language

Unimaginable today, a book I am reading compares “The Trail of Tears” to the “Bataan Death March”, along with the lies and dirty deals Andrew Jackson made. Some refused to go. Some hid in the mountains, so there became a “Western Band” and an “Eastern Band” of the Cherokee Nation. Thousands died along the trail, many by diseases spread by the Europeans. $3 million was given for their land, but the seller did not want to sell. It was called The Indian Removal Act, and involved not only the Cherokee, but the Chickasaw, the Creek, the Seminoles and the Choctaw, virtually all of the Native Americans in the southeast.

Like most museums, you can’t take it all in on one visit, but it is very well-managed and displayed.

Errands in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Friday,  September 24, 2021

47° at 3:00AM

As I lay in bed, slowly waking up, I thought it unlikely the fresh water tank was leaking in two places, although possible with all the bumps and jolts I give it driving rough highways at 70 mph. At Highland Haven, I had trouble closing the drain cock after draining the tank so I could fill with fresh water. I had to use a screw driver to leverage it. Maybe I cracked it, or maybe it was just worn out. At any rate, it appears to be a simple thing to replace. If it still leaks and is the tank that’s leaking, I may have to go to Charlotte to get it replaced.

I went into Cherokee with a list. Call Martha was first. I wasn’t sure she was getting the InReach satellite messages, as reception here is spotty. It’s an easy 15 minute drive into Cherokee. Martha was doing fine, playing tennis and going to the UVA football game tonight. I told her about the leaking fresh water tank.

I went to an auto parts store in Cherokee. The plug for my forward-facing video camera had come apart, so I was looking for the parts that screw into the end of a plug that goes in the cigarette lighter. I consider this an essential piece of equipment. If I am in an accident pulling an expensive trailer with an expensive truck, I want evidence to show what happened. Since I have already had one expensive issue, the insurance would probably drop me if I had another.

A very nice gentleman said he didn’t have anything like that, but if I was going that way, there is a Walmart in Sylva, with several auto parts stores near it. I was going that way anyway, to Fallin’s RV Repair for a water tank drain cock, wishfully thinking the leak was coming from a faulty drain cock. This was a busy, little place with RVs in every available place to park. There was one man inside the small store. He was serving one customer while he talked on the phone to another. I wandered up and down the isles looking for a drain cock. I turned to a voice asking, “Can I help you find something?” He went right to it. There were two designs, so I bought both and thanked him. As he checked me out, he answered the phone, while another man came in. How he kept his pleasant demeanor through all this, I don’t know. 

Now on to Sylva, about 17 miles away. I thought my GPS was taking me a crazy route, winding my way around this old railroad town, but that’s just the way it is. As I headed to Walmart, I envisioned walking around there for an hour looking for something they probably didn’t have. I spotted an auto parts store…… and turned left across busy traffic. 

Three service people were helping customers, so I started wandering around when a kind female voice said, “Can I help you?” I showed her the screw and cap, telling her what they went to. She went right to the electrical isle and scanned plugs, selecting one, asking, “Will this do it?” Staring at it while rearranging my mind, I thought all I needed was the button. Then I looked at the price tag – $6. I smiled and answered, “Yes, thank you very much.”

Walking to the truck, I looked at the plug with two wires coming out of it. OK, I would have to cut my wire and connect these. I can do that, I thought. Staring at it in the truck, I realized I could just unscrew the end, take the button and put it into mine. I headed back to camp, optimistic I was going to solve both problems. Just out of Cherokee, I stopped at a pullover beside the Oconaliftee River. There is a well-traveled foot path beside the river. Across the river I saw three fishermen beside a huge pool. In the reservation, they stock the river with trout. Entering the park, cars were pulled over next to a big field where elk grazed.

After eating some lunch, I decided to go fishing for a couple of hours. I didn’t have time to go far, so I started at the end of the campground where Bradley Fork comes into the campground. I got in at a beautiful pool. Fishing a hopper, nothing was interested, so I started for the next pool. Someone was standing in the middle of it. 

I walked up the road, heading up the mountain. I gave him what I thought was enough room to fish the next two hours and got in at another beautiful pool. Having no luck, I changed to a Royal Wulff. No luck. After fishing a gorgeous pool without moving a fish, I changed to a nymph. No luck, so I changed to a big streamer. No luck. I was changing again when the young fisherman who I thought I had given enough room, camp tromping past asking if I had any luck. I shook my head. I think he said he was doing well, but I couldn’t hear over the roaring river.

Bradley Fork is a beautiful trout stream – big, powerful, crystal clear water still flowing hard after the rains. Sometimes I heard airplanes flying over. Sometimes it was the river making a similar sound. Cicadas were also singing their mating song. Frustrated after a few more pools, I decided to head back. It was Friday afternoon, and two more fishermen passed me, going up the mountain. Then I saw two fishing their way up. What’s it going to be like on Saturday?

Work Day

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Karen went for a 6 mile run up Anthony Creek Trail while the kids had fun cooking pancakes, pouring batter in letters for their names, then adding caramel M&M’s on top. Of course they couldn’t turn them over very well, but they had fun with the project and readily ate them. Karen needed to get back at a decent time, so they packed up for their 4.5 hour trip home. I have been trying to kiss Melissa on the forehead for a week while she squeals, kicks, pushes and calls me “Crazy Dude”. I was taken by surprise when she jumped up in my arms with a big hug I will forever remember. It was a great week with the kids, one that will be hard to top.

We took the trailer to the Loop parking lot, which was busy on a Saturday. I blocked one lane of traffic while I parked it and unhooked. The batteries are at 35%, and we needed a good day’s charge so we can stay 5 days in Cataloochee.

Then we went to town to do laundry, fill up gas, get a fuse for the jack, grocery shop and fill a propane tank. We were too efficient. Everything was right there in one lot – the laundry, Ace Hardware, a propane refill, and even an excellent car wash that could fit any size RV. 

We started four washers. Then I went to Ace for the fuse, but they still didn’t have it. Fortunately, the 25 amp I bought a few days ago was working fine. I got some more firewood and filled the propane tank. The people in this Ace Hardware are really nice and helpful. They also own the propane station. 

A lady named Melissa, at the laundry told us places to go, showed us pictures of wildlife in her yard, and videos taken by a doorbell camera, of bears, turkeys, wild boar and a bobcat. She was a cool, big lady and very nice. She told us to go to Tennessee Sally’s Craft Store, where we would find local arts and crafts. Angels come in all shapes and forms.

We went to Tennessee Sally’s, and it must have been Sally who greeted us. It’s nice, little store with lots of interesting things. Martha bought a solar Mason Jar painted with a bear and trees to remind us of the Smokies. I bought a photography book with pictures of Cades Cove to send to the kids.

It was a good, productive, efficient day. where we got a lot of stuff done with good teamwork. We loaded groceries in the hot trailer parked in the parking lot. Checking the solar, we had gotten to 56%, not enough to make it five days in Cataloochee, so I suggested we go for a hike. We might not be at 100%, but maybe 75. Martha wanted to get out of the heat and go back to the campground. We hooked up, blocking traffic in one lane as people poured in for the Loop Drive on a Saturday afternoon.

People run their phones and iPads down to 0% all the time, but then they buy a new $1,000 phone before the battery wears out. As Lou told us after he installed the solar system, “The batteries are happiest between 20 and 80%.” These are lithium batteries, not lead acid. It’s pretty amazing we have been able to stay in Cades Cove with five people in the trailer for a week in a shaded site that got little sun.

At the campground, we packed up for the move to Cataloochee Campground tomorrow, and we had a full load with all the cooking stuff, bikes, firewood, cameras, tents and sleeping bags. Then Martha went to the Institute to hike to a waterfall someone had told her about. I was ready for a glass of wine.

I sat and listened to some music, first Elke Brook, then Andrew Lloyd Webber. I couldn’t connect Bluetooth from outside the trailer, so I put some earphones on and turned it up.

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