Late Spring 2011
You'll notice a lull in the pictures. That's because various
family members don't like their pictures on the internet, and that
goes for babies/children too. Also most of the commentary would
be boring childrearing observations, which I assume bores most people.
These picture pages are a condensed version of longer posts that do
include pictures/commentary of said people and more mundane
happenings. If you're truly interested in reading this drop me
an e-mail and I can send you the username/password.
Eastertime! Lots of family were visiting to see the new baby.
The weather had gotten warm again in Knoxville. Our dogwood is
K's mom had stayed for a while, and the visit was extended when
her car self-destructed not very far into the trip home.
On Saturday we went to Farragut to the
Farragut Book Fest for Children which was in the park by
the library. I think turnout was a bit lower than expected
because it had rained all night and it was windy, chilly and damp
Here we are at a bridge in the park looking at the storm-filled
K's sister Laura stopped by, as we were halfway between Baltimore and
Vicksburg Mississippi. Knoxville is centrally located, 8 hours from
anywhere else anyone we know wants to be.
E has a new nightlight now. We had been using a ceramic Christmas
tree, but that's probably not a good idea with a free-range toddler.
The new one is a blue canary; it's unclear whether it's an intentional
TMBG reference or not.
The only non-people picture during my Grandparent's visit was this
Salamander at Walker Springs park:
On Monday I managed to pull into the driveway after coming home from work
just as a huge storm hit. It wasn't one of those big lines of storms
you are hearing out about on the news, but an isolated thunderstorm
that only affected maybe a 5 mile radius.
In any case it had a lot of wind, and knocked down trees all along
my route home. Some of them were giant 150 year old trees. Lots
of big trees on campus were split in two or had the tops blown off.
Many traffic lights were still out the next day.
Our power was out for 3 hours, luckily K had just finished
preparing supper. The storm itself was over quickly and the sun
came out while it was still raining. There was a faint rainbow;
I took E out (she likes rainbows in theory) but she was unimpressed.
Instead she tried to catch raindrops with her spoon and then asked
to go back inside so she could finish eating.
Not long after were the intense storms on April 27th. Here's
the view monitoring the storms from the basement:
The hail is what convinced us to migrate downstairs:
Apparently not far from here they had baseball-sized hail that was
shattering windows. Ours was only quarter-sized:
Being under a Tornado warning is interesting, especially whey people
tell you an incoming tornado sounds like a frieght train. That's
not very helpful when you live across the street from a busy
freight rail line.
It's hard to believe it is Strawberry time here already. Luckily the
crop was spared any storm damage. E was a big help;
she picked a lot herself and was pretty good about telling which ones
were ripe enough. We picked more than 14 pounds of berries, that's
almost two baby-Xs worth!
Note that as a father I do disapprove of her wearing
an outfit that has a company logo splashed across her bottom.
This is also peak garage sale season (you hear sad stories about people
who have hail-damaged cars because they had all their garage sale goods
filling up their garage).
Luckily K has shown restraint so far.
We stopped at Sandy Spring Park in Maryville for lunch.
Spring it Tennessee is when you get to talk to all your neighbors:
the weather is still cool enough to want to be outside and the
mosquitos aren't out yet.
Today I mowed the lawn, but all the neighbors
(plus the landlord who stopped by to see if we had storm damage) came
by just _before_ I mowed, so I got to be self-conscious about the
really long grass.
We finally got around to planting our garden. Always too late, the
cantalopes are always trying to make more fruit right as it frosts.
On Saturday we went for a hike in the Smokies! We managed to
leave relatively early despite the fact that X still likes to wake
every 2 hours during the night.
In Pigeon Forge part of the road was blocked off for a parade. It was a
Shriner parade, with at least 10 different groups of Shriners driving
around in their mini-vehicles. Here's a picture of the mini-18-wheelers:
Traffic dropped off dramatically once we got to the park. At every
entrance sign we passed (at least 3 of them) there was a line of tourists
having their picture taken with the signs.
We went to Laurel Falls, which is considered the easiest waterfall hike
on the Tennessee side of the park.
I had been here before when interviewing
for my UTK job; this was K's first visit.
The mountain laurel was blooming. You might think this is how
Laurel Falls got its name, but apparently it was mis-named for
all the Rhododendron that's growing there too.
The hike up was uneventful. In theory this trail is paved enough
for strollers, but it is a bumpy trail with steep cliffs so we
carried the children. Here I am in front of the falls:
The trail passes over a bridge that splits the falls in two.
You can climb down below the falls and walk around on the rocks,
which is what we did. Here's the view from down below:
As you can tell I was playing with panoramas again. Here's
a close up of the lower falls:
E and I went a bit further looking for more falls, but
it was mostly rapids beyond that point:
The waterfall was getting really crowded by this point, including
lots of people with kids. We decided to head back to our car.
Here's our GPS track. Poor E, no one made any "wish I could
ride in your backpack" comments. They've now shifted to "what
a cute baby" comments aimed at baby X. That plus the one guy who answered
his kids' "how long is this trail anyway" complaint by telling them
K was only 8 months pregnant when she had started up the mountain.
After the hike we continued on along the Little River.
We stopped at The Sinks. We had been there
almost exactly a year before,
but it had been under construction.
We drove past Lower Meigs Falls which you can see from the road.
This time last year we had hiked along the upper Meigs Falls.
Just like last year we stopped at the Townsend Wye for a picnic
lunch. Luckily this was upstream
from the big Gatlinburg sewage plant collapse that
happened a month or so ago. The water was freezing.
There were a lot of butterflies flying around. Here's a blue
butterfly with orange spots which is officially known as
a "Red Spotted Purple" for some reason.
We finally went home after this. I drove the last leg as K hadn't
had much sleep the night before. We made it, despite all the road
construction. E spent the whole time looking for castles despite
us telling her that she won't see many after we left Pigeon Forge.
May means it's time to spend afternoons pulling up bamboo shoots
invading our yard from next door.
Aunt Laura stopped by returning from Vicksburg to Baltimore via
New Orleans. She brought Beignets.
We haven't had many nature photos recently. Here's a picture of a robin
that's made a nest on the side of our house:
In the afternoon we tried to answer the age-old question of
"how many engineers
does it take to assemble a 1980s era 'Sir Edmund Hillary' tent that
was bought off of Craig's list for $15 and didn't come
On Monday E started swim lessons. Of course the weather went from
sunny and 90s to cloudy and 50s. That didn't matter in the end though,
because due to some mixup her swim class is inside at 5pm instead of
outside at 11am (As you can imagine this didn't make K very happy).
The whole enterprise is run by semi-competent college kids and their
website is not very helpful. To make up for it being inside, the
steam pipes are out of commission so the water is just as freezing
as it would be if the lessons had been outside.
Due to all the recent storms, our back neighbor (who apparently
works in the insurance field) decided to cut down all of
his trees that he thought might potentially fall. So
we're losing the big pine tree out back:
Due to this we've been subjected to chain-saw noises long
into the night, as well as piles of sawdust wafting in the wind.
On Saturday morning we went to the
Knoxville Children's Festival of Reading. The place
was packed; K despaired when there was no easy parking
(she hates "big-city" life).
E and K enjoyed doing some crafts. I had to take a
panorama to get the Sunsphere in the shot. Don't look too closely
or you'll see the artifacts from people moving around while I
was taking the pictures.
K was happy when she noticed the used-book tent next to the
crafts area. There were a lot of good books there, as there was
no pre-event access, so the dealers hadn't snatched up all the
good finds. She ended up getting two boxes of books.
Meanwhile I was trying to help E do complicated crafts while
also keeping an eye on X in his stroller. I don't know how
single parents do it.
They've activated the fountains in the park. Baby X was
By this time everyone was hot and tired. We had to use various
elevators to get back to our car (due to the stroller). Everyone
else kept letting their kids run the elevators, incompetently.
I thought K was going to start throttling people, especially
when we ended up at the top of the Sunsphere (rather than at street
level) due to improper elevator button pushing.
Our mini-red rose (which has been through a lot) bloomed again.
Since I took the picture it's being eaten by something new.
Unknown animals are also
eating our bean plants, and they ate E's sunflower that she
got at the festival of books. I guess that's the hazard of not
using exclusively planters but planting in the actual ground.
The shards of plastic in the flower pot are hail-storm damage.
Our tomatoes are doing amazing though, and for some reason the smallest
one has grown a tomato that is possibly starting to ripen already.
Swim lessons changed venue yet again, this time to a different indoor pool.
There was additional frustration this week due to the international finals
for Destination Imagination (used to be Odyssey of the Mind) that
are being held on
campus. You can't get anywhere on campus [including the swimming pool]
without having hundreds of colorfully clad middle schoolers of various
nationalities getting in your way. In any case they had to take
lessons in one swim lane while lap-swimmers were in the rest of the lanes.
The International Biscuit Festival
is being held in Knoville this weekend. Sadly for you, we didn't go.
But in celebration K made a really nice set of biscuits
for us for breakfast.
K's college friend Jess came to visit us for the weekend. We
went to Louisville Point Park before she got there, because it's
convenient to the airport.
They had one baby swing there so we spent a lot of time pushing E.
These other kids came up and started making sad faces at us until
K started pushing them on the swings too.
Here's a GPS track of where we were. It's a narrow point with water
Monday was Memorial Day. We took Jess to see Knoxville, which
tends to mostly involve seeing the Sunsphere. From the top
you could see a fire truck with a big flag by the veteran's memorial
We then tried to go to
Volunteer Landing Park. There are actually three narrow
waterfront parks in a row here, with various restaurants and
bridges getting in the way. Parking is mostly reserved for the restaurants
too, which greatly annoyed K.
The first park you come to is the Treaty of Holston Park. The Treaty
of Holston was signed with the Cherokee there in 1791 and promised peace.
I think it lasted about 10 years. There's a big monument there:
The park page promised "swings" which got E excited, but they
turned out to be porch-swings not child-swings.
Next you pass the site where Frances Hodgson Burnett lived for a while
(she wrote The Secret Garden and A Little Princess).
Then you get to River Mountain Park which has fountains. Baby X and I
chilled in the shade while the others got a little wet. We saw a lizard
(possibly a Six-lined Racerunner):
Here's Jess and a little girl
(who managed to almost fall into the fountain
shortly after this picture was taken).
Here's K behind a waterfall:
Some hydrangea and the Henley Street Bridge which is currently
We were mostly unimpressed with the park. So we went home, had a quick
lunch, and then Jess had to leave.
We woke early on Saturday to go on a hike. Well, we
sort of woke early: we only managed to leave around 8 or so.
We went to see Piney Falls which is in a
Tennessee Class II Natural-Scientific State Natural Area.
The road to the falls is an unlikely looking road which quickly
turns isolated, one-lane, and (at times) gravel.
We were the first people there. Here
is E gathering a chunk of gravel for her "rock collection":
The area is not well signed, and (as always) we made the mistake of leaving
the guide book in the car. So at first we ended up above the falls:
We did eventually find the right trail and got to the bottom. We
had hoped that the one week of dry weather would not have dried up
all the waterfalls; we were wrong.
You might notice these falls look a lot like others we have seen
recently (such as Yahoo Falls in Kentucky). It turns out many of the falls
along the Cumberland Plateau look the same: narrow falls with a big
rock shelter behind them.
The cliffs and overhanging rocks along the trail were impressive:
We decided to see Lower Piney Falls too, as we were only a steep spur
trail away (also it was the only signed feature in the park). You can't
really see these falls, only look down from the top:
Despite having two noisy children we did see some birds. They
looked fairly exotic, not just the robins we typically see on hikes.
As best I can tell they were just various sorts of yellow warblers.
You can tell I'm not really a real bird watcher.
Here's the GPS track for where we hiked. The cliffs blocked
the signal for part of the way.
After the hike we decided to take a break at a park.
We were going to Spring City / Going to have some fun.
Despite insufficient mappage we did find the park in the end.
Desite it being lunch time on a June Saturday
the park was absolutely deserted. Maybe the hot weather
kept everyone away.
I think these monkey bars were designed by M.C. Escher:
The park was right along the dammed up Tennessee River. The steam
on the horizon is from the Watts Bar Nuclear Power plant:
Here's a GPS track, in case anyone cares:
Eventually we went home. We did not have much time to rest:
E's friend Lucas had invited us swimming that afternoon.
Lucas's family belongs
to a super-fancy country club; going there to swim was an
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