Woah! Just realized I haven’t posted anything about my trip to the Great Smokey Mountains yet! Sorry, it’s been a weird week. I still feel like I’m on vacation (wee, that’s technically true; I mean like I’m still in NC).
The trip was fantastic. The Raptor Clan had a great time. So, what’d we do…
We went biking around Cade’s Cove (which really isn’t anywhere near a cove), an 11-mile road that’s closed to traffic in the mornings. So we got up far earlier than I would’ve liked, drove for like two hours, and then biked the whole loop. What did I learn from this? I’m in horrific shape. Seriously, by the end I was so exhausted that I was just coasting down the hills, stopping at the bottom, and walking my bike up the next one. Still had fun, though.
Also road the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad. That was awesome, both because I’m a train buff and because scenes in The Fugitive, one of my favorite movies, were filmed on the line. Remember the train crash in the beginning of the film? They shot it about a half-mile outside Dillsboro, NC. The locomotives and the prison bus they used are still parked next to the track.
So after we reached Dillsboro (the end of the line), they pull the locomotive around to the other end of the train for the return trip. They had to wait a minute before they could pass the coaches because the passengers have to cross over the passing track while disembarking the train. So I got into a conversation with the train crew, and when they found out I used to volunteer at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, they invited me up into the cab to look around. I was up there for about a minute when a call came over the radio. “Foot traffic’s clear. You wanna ask the gentleman in the cab if he’d like a ride?” The engineer looked over at me, and I think he knew right away that he didn’t even have to ask.
The ride actually lasted for another 3 minutes or so: I didn’t get off until after we’d hooked back up to the passenger cars. I would’ve filmed that too, only my camera ran out of batteries. Not that I care: it was still the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
So, anyway, we also went white-water rafting on the Nantahala River. It’s a pretty tame ride, with mostly Class I and II rapids, with one Class III at the very end of the run. Now, Mama Raptor wasn’t to thrilled with the prospect of doing that Class III, especially not after all of the rafts (we took a guided trip from a large company) pulled over to the bank and we got a safety briefing before going over. Okay, she was pretty much terrified. So I reassured her, telling her that hundreds if not thousands of people go over that rapid every day, so the odds of anything happening to us were so slim that I can’t even pronounce it and we were all going to be just fine. Guess what happened?
Yep, that’s me falling out of the raft. I’m fine, don’t worry: I actually thought the whole thing was hilarious!
So, yeah, that was our vacation in a nutshell. We did a heck of a lot more than I describe here, but I don’t really have pics of the rest (have to “borrow” them from Papa Raptor) and it’s after midnight anyway, so I’m going to get to bed.