Early Fall 2010
September means fall, but here in Knoxville it certainly
still felt like summer.
K&E went to Massachusetts to visit family and
took our "good"
digital camera. Our previous moderately OK camera was somehow lost
in the move. So all that's left for me to use is the awesome Agfa CL30
that takes only grainy 640x480 pictures! I kept that camera
because when I got it 10 years ago I had to write the Linux driver
for it by hand, reverse-engineering how windows talked to it.
I spent most of the week at the CCGSC workshop which was held
at the Highland Lake Inn
near Asheville NC.
Here's my room, it had a fish theme (better than when we
stayed in Chattanooga and the room had a Washington DC theme):
The workshop was about scientific grid computing.
I spent most of it trying to get a very specific kind of virtualized
Linux running to do some tests for a co-workers's talk. I succeded
with literally minutes to spare, and I had to boot a borrowed
laptop with a repurposed conference-proceedings USB key to do it.
Each day there was a break from 2-4pm so you could relax. I
typically took a walk around the grounds.
There was an old mill with a dam and waterfall:
There was livestock:
And a peacock in a tree:
There was a pretty lake. You probably can't read it but the bottom
line of the sign says something about Trespassers being fed to the
fishes. The lake did have a lot of aggressive fish; one of the other
post-docs stuck his hand in the water and the fish came up and nibbled
at his fingers.
Every night after supper (which wasn't until 8pm) there was a fire
down by the lake. The four least senior people there (it wasn't
worded like that, it was worded as "strong young men") got
to carry heavy coolers full of ice and drinks down a long hill
in the dark, then carry them back up again. So I had to work
for my fancy conference meals:
It was clear most nights; I saw a few shooting stars and a few
And since it is me, here's a GPS track of my walking around.
Oddly, as you can see on the map, this place used to be a Catholic camp
of some sort. That would explain the random statues of Mary you'd
see when wandering around:
I came home Friday; my German co-worker who I had driven with wasn't
feeling well so she had me drive her car the 2 1/2 hours back to
Knoxville. It was weird being back to a quiet house!
The watermelon in our garden had split while we were gone. It still
looked OK (though very small) so I ate it. It's a shame E wasn't
here, she loves watermelon:
I went for a walk around the neighborhood (don't worry, no GPS this time)
and there are some pretty stunning views of the mountains from the top
of the hill behind our house. Unfortunately the mountains never come
out in pictures, they just look like tiny green blobs, not the cool
looming prescence they have in real life:
K&E went to MD then to MA, then back to MD again, having adventures
all along the way. Lots of time at the beach, plus multiple early
After they got back, we went apple picking one last time.
It was a sad year for the TN apple crop. On the way back
we stopped by Fountain City.
was going on, and some sort of chili contest. We also went to
the nearby duck pond.
In late September the weather has briefly turned Fall-like. You
we've been living here too long when the high is 57° and we
want to break out the winter coats.
I spent many evenings trying
to re-wire the power connector on K's laptop. I'm
applying my ECE skills to a useful purpose for once.
This task is a pain as PowerPC Apple laptops need to
to be completely disassembled into tiny pieces to get to anything useful,
and my soldering skills are borderline at best and the parts
needing fixed are very tiny.
On Saturday we went to the
2010 Pellissippi State
Hot Air Balloon Festival.
We got there around 1pm... and there was not a single balloon in sight.
Apparently adverse wind conditions meant the afternoon balloon launch
was canceled. We would have thought they despite that, they might have
had at least a
few balloons up on display, or maybe spread out on the ground
(or event better, told us there were no balloons before charging us
There was an elaborate craft section for children, so we found things
to do while waiting for balloons.
The rumor was there
might be balloons by 5pm so we decided to stick it out even
if it meant spending the whole day there. The weather was certainly
pretty enough (though I got a bit sunburned as I wasn't expecting
to stay that long).
Finally by 5pm they set up two balloons to give tethered rides.
We decided to run home and give E a brief nap before coming
back for the balloon glow. So we came back at 8pm, only to
find the highway exit backed up for miles! By the time we got
back to the Pellissippi campus, all parking was full. In
the end we parked across the street and walked on over.
The balloons lit up while music played. It was pretty neat.
My camera did an OK job of capturing things, though it probably would
have done better if those streetlights weren't there.
When it was over we thought it would take forever to get through the
traffic (like on the 4th of July), but by moving quickly we managed
to beat the rush and were
home in no time at all.
The next week was E's birthday, and her birthday party. Lots of
little kids running around!
It was also K and my 5-year anniversary. This is the "wooden"
anniversary so I got her a spurtle:
E's Aunt L came for a visit. On Saturday we went to a Fall festival
at a local church (where we accumulated another pumpkin,
I think we had at least 10 by Halloween); in the
we went to a
Greek festival held by
the local Greek
We got to watch some Greek dancers:
After that we ate a lot of Greek food.
On Sunday morning we went for a walk at the
Botanical Garden and Arboretum.
It's not very big, so we quickly walked around it:
We had a picnic lunch in the shadow of the sunsphere.
There were an annoying amount of mosquitos.
Then we decided to go to the observation deck!
It's on the 4th floor, with an unusually large
gap between that and the third floor.
Here's the view toward the river, Neyland Stadium, and my office:
We next went to the fountain at the World's Fair park.
We decided to re-live our Germany trip by making some
German food. Here we are making Spätzel;
We made Currywurst and Brotchen as well.
One Saturday morning in mid-October we woke up early and went to help
the Knoxville Gem and Mineral
Society's annual Rock and Gem show.
Sunday we woke up early and headed to the
Smoky Mountains to hike. Despite
leaving early and driving through a very foggy Sevierville, the
park was already crowded by the time we got there.
We first took the Alum Cave trail. It started out following a stream
which had lots of small waterfalls:
The trail eventually goes up to and through Arch Rock:
It felt freezing cold and the start of the hike,
with temperatures in the 40s. By the time
we got to the inspiration overlook we had to stop to take off
hats and layers of clothing.
We hiked up to Alum Cave, which is really more of a rock shelter.
It was mined for Epsom Salts and Alum back in the 1840s.
A view looking out at the foliage:
It was very dusty and E got completely dirty when we let her
run around a bit.
The trail was 2.2 miles of an increasingly steep constant uphill.
We could have gone 2.6 miles more and ended up on top of Mt. LeConte,
but decided to turn back.
On the way back down we tried again to see the "eye of the needle"
which is a hole in a rock formation. Here's the formation; we
actually do have a picture of the hole here, but because the
foliage beyond blends in so well you can't really see it unless you
have a reference photo.
We've gotten out of practice for hiking, we were tired by the time
we got back to the car. Here's a GPS track of where we went:
We got back on the road and kept driving until North Carolina.
We went to Clingman's Dome, which is the highest
point in Tennessee and the third highest east of the Mississippi
at 6,643 feet.
You actually drive most of the way to the top. It was crowded,
but K did an impressive job finding a spot and parallel parking.
To get to the very top you have to walk
the last very-steep (but paved) half mile. We pushed E in a
stroller, and we were way more worn out by this than we should have
At the end is a tower with a ramp you climb up to overlook.
This tower is right on the North Carolina/Tennessee border.
Here's a view from the tower, looking at Mount LeConte. You can
see Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the distance to the left. The
dead trees in the foreground are Frasier Firs killed by
the non-native woolly adelgid.
We then had a picnic lunch (not at a picnic table, as the National
Park Service doesn't seem to believe in picnic areas) on the sidewalk
overlooking the North Carolina mountains.
Here's our GPS track. The heavy dotted line is the NC/TN border.
Note we had to push the stroller 330 feet uphill plus however
high the tower was.
The week before Halloween we carved pumpkins. I let E design then;
here's our final product. The one with the bulging eyes is supposed
to be Elmo, not sure how well that turned out.
On Saturday morning I was feeling poorly due to a bad cold,
but somehow K convinced
me that I'd still be OK making a 6 mile hike 3000 feet up a mountain
with a 30 pound baby on my back.
That turned out about as well as you'd expect. K wasn't very
happy, and she decided I was going too slow and requiring too many
rests so we gave up and turned around. Not many pictures from that hike
as you'd imagine.
It turns out that the CCC got to have all the fun:
Here's a track of our route. We were aiming for that lookout tower,
so we were much closer than we thought. We should probably have
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