Sunday, September 23, 2012

Smokey Mountain Sky


When I visit Gatlinburg, Tennessee, I wind up standing here. Whether I can be found here upon my initial arrival or whether I slouch here in an exhausted vacation-end-type state, depends on how adventurous I’m feeling…but I WILL stand atop this favorite Smokey Mountain of mine, at one time or another during my stay, to enjoy an unforgettable view.

My Memaw (because that’s what we call grandmothers, here in the South), had been reluctant to ride Gatlinburg’s SkyLift. I scoffed upon learning that she’d not ventured on this mountain-climbing-contraption during any of her previous visits to Tennessee’s favorite tourist trap that is Gatlinburg. Call it what you will- Gatlinburg is awesome and for a Tennessee native, The SkyLift is a MUST. With some persuasion from our family clan, Memaw braved the boarding process onto a ride that she thoroughly enjoyed. 

Our remaining crew followed, two-by-two, as though our yellow hanging holders would lift us safely into Noah’s Ark. I dug through my ridiculously oversized purse, in an attempt to locate a camera that I KNEW I wouldn’t have left at our cabin. As we were bound for the sky, I could not turn back when I realized that Mr. Stylus (affectionately, my camera) had been forgotten. My ark-destined partner, Josh, tried to console me as I lamented my mistake. 

We rode along silently for a bit, while I refused to accept that no device lay within my purse’s innards that would adequately document our adventure. Digging furiously through its contents, I gasped with delight when I located my phone among bits of rubbish, cosmetics, tampons, and souvenirs that all too-frequently dwell within the darkness of my handbag. All would be well now, for my preparatory measures had armed my cell phone with a tiny, invaluable SD card. I'm certain that Josh was as relieved as I was, since he could at last enjoy a ride up a mountain with a wife who was now content.

On this mountain-conquering day, I stood in my scenic spot of choice and breathed in air that was de-fumed of pollutions and stresses that regularly smog my day-to-day life. Pulleys rotated quietly as they passed strong coils of life support from one to another, as though silence were critical for accurate alignment of human-holding cables. I marveled at my transportation source’s simple, yet unsurpassed ability to safely carry riders to my viewpoint in the sky.

Why they’re called ‘The Smokies’…According to the reliable source that is, uh...Wikipedia, The Great Smoky Mountains were named because of the appearance of smoke that often encompasses them. Internet, you fail me again to provide my blog readers with more thorough scientific explanations. Or, perhaps, it's me who fails viewers for ending a side-detour of web-hopping because I'm too eager to post these pictures. Oh well, my apologies. According to a site that I was never permitted to utilize in sources pages during my college years, Wikipedia reads the following: 

The name "Smoky" comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog, which is most common in the morning and after rainfall, is the result of warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico cooling rapidly in the higher elevations of Southern Appalachia.[6] 

Wikipedia works for me this time- I trust that those who are dissatisfied with the above explanation are capable of conducting their own investigations, should more detail be desired.  :)

At the mountaintop end of SkyLift’s cables, a small store accommodates the souvenir-searching tourist. An array of trinkets and treasures may be browsed by visitors who have never been to Tennessee and wish to immortalize their trip with some Southern-inspired what-nots. Though I’m a native of the South, I still can’t resist buying something at Skylift’s store. My self-awareness of impulsivity and purchasing things I don’t really need, kept me from entering this time. However, my aunts generously bought a black bear picture frame to proudly display the photo taken of Josh and me on the ride. This time, our picture was good. On previous occasions, ride pictures were never bought by either of we Hodges. One must prepare accordingly for an unexpected camera-flash that awaits riders at Skylift’s summit. Normally, my sky-ride picture depicts an unflatteringly cheesy smile and awkward disposition. Not this time, friends. This time, I was ready. I ran my fingers through tangled hair that the mountain winds had crafted into an impossible knot. I dug through my purse, found my gloss, and applied it to chapped lips that would have inhibited smiling capabilities. All photo preparations were complete when our vessel passed by the picture booth, where a handmade hillbilly sits in a rocking chair and sounds off an eerily, Deliverance-ish, “Say cheeeese…smile!” Chances are, you won’t be ready for him…or for your picture. You’ll be too busy enjoying mountain scenery that surrounds you as you marvel at the simple fact that you’re gliding up a mountain, only supported by a cord and a few pulleys. Once your surprise picture is taken, you’ll remember these warnings and understand that you’ll need to prepare in advance next time. Based on my experience, it takes 5 Skyrides to achieve decent photo depiction of the awesomeness that is Skylift.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling extra dangerous, I cautiously creep close to the mountain’s edge…The view is worth the risk, but I make sure to wear no-slip shoes!

I wouldn’t mind having this guy’s job!

I love this one of my Pawpaw. He looked so thoughtful as he pondered Skylift’s mechanical functioning…At least, that’s what I assume he was pondering. Whatever his thoughts were, they contributed to making a picture that I LOVE.

Cloudy or sunny, this view always attracts visitors. I can’t say what type of whether is preferable for me…there are upsides to both. Cloudy days create mysterious smoke that best captures the famous name of these mountains. Sunny days are less smoky, but the view still amazes me.

The Gatlinburg strip, from afar…

Looks like a dragon just exhaled through the Smokies. My imagination is ever prevalent in all things, but especially when I see pictures like this one. Yep, dragon smoke, no doubt in my mind. :)

Up close shot of dragon’s smoke. Behold, the true reason why we call these The Smokey Mountains…You see, friends, Smokey is a dragon. DUH. Stop all the nonsensical scientific explanations and just look at the facts. They’re all here.


A combination photo- two of my favorites! (mountains and love) My husband has the ability to make beautiful scenery even better.


Riding the Skylift is better when you’re with your favorite person EVER.


The trip back down to Gatlinburg is filled with incredible views!

Me- in Gatlinburg…sort of. I have this newly developed habit of taking pictures of my feet when I travel. I must admit, I saw it on Pinterest. Not this photo, in particular, but an awesome idea of the like: Taking pictures of your feet, against backdrops of places you visit- then framing them in a series of all the memories you’ve made and places you’ve been. For couples, I think this idea is uniquely incredible! I didn’t get Josh’s tootsies in this shot, but I’ve taken a few of both sets of feet when we go to places together.

The Plan? To put them in a frame, once I’ve collected enough to impress all who look upon it. Why? - Because then observers will say, “Oh how creative you are!”, “That’s such a cool idea you thought up”, “You are so clever!”, etc. Little will they know that my “genius” idea was inspired from  Pinterest and deviously duplicate…unless, of course, said observers have a Pinterest account. In that instance, I will reluctantly admit my deceptiveness- but, only if I’m asked in a direct manner that would cause me to feel guilty if I continued to allow onlookers to brag about my awesomeness. Otherwise, my plan is fail-proof. You readers are welcome to follow this plan yourselves- and if you think of any magical words to divert admission of copying this framing feetsies idea, I welcome your advice.


I like taking pictures that show more of a background, along with enough parts of a person to verify their presence at a particular location. Most people feel awkward when a camera is aimed squarely at the face. At least, I do…this side angle is a photo-taking preference that I use as an antidote for those who are picture-shy. I must say, its effective!

GOTCHA! Gatlinburg’s space needle was made miniature by my picture pinch. I’m a regular Houdini, huh? This distance illusion is used by lots of people, I assume, but I have no idea who first thought of it. I haven’t seen a photo that featured the Space Needle as the subject of a photo-pinch, though. This trick was handy on my descending trip from Skylift’s summit!

 You’ll probably be seeing more shots like it in the future. Again, I probably saw a pin or online picture that sparked my own genius here. Still, we can keep that a secret- right? We don’t want everyone to think we aren’t intuitive creators of originality, after all, now do we?

 Nowadays, the majority of good ideas tend to resemble a thought that has been ‘thunked’. (word created to avoid wording redundancy) With technology at our hands, it’s easy for one to mistake one’s own originality for a commonly known, or formally performed action. Chances are, if you have an idea that causes you to swell with pride, online research will disappoint you with information that proves it has been done before you.

 Keeping that in mind, try to incorporate what you love about an idea you’ve seen- then make it your own. This photo and pinching-objects-for-size-illusion is mine…If this exact picture is out there in a technological database, I haven’t found it. If you find one similar, just keep it to yourself and permit me to marvel at my own creativity. I’ll do the same for you, friends...and you're welcome to try this out when you ride the Skylift! :)

AH HA! I knew I had this picture somewhere. Here, Josh and I are just about to complete our airborne ride to land safely back in Gatlinburg. We’d crossed a brook while on our ascent up the mountain and I made a mental note to get this shot on our way back down. I’m always a bit uneasy when I cross this stream and Josh usually worries about losing his shoes to swift currents below. 

Luckily, I didn’t fall into this dreaded brook and Josh’s flip-flops remained securely attached to his feet when I took this picture. It may be strange to memorialize our trip with this photo, but that’s exactly what I intend to do. This one will go into the frame of foot travels that was inspired by others but personalized by me. You should go to Gatlinburg and find a place to photograph your feet…just a thought. At least do the former- and ride the Skylift, you big chicken. I swear, you’ll be glad you did! :)

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