GSMNP 9 mile trail ride (loop)

This is a description for a 9 mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This ride does have a few tricky spots, but I would rate this much easier than the 8.6 mile ride I described yesterday.  The elevation gain on this ride is also not as severe even though it makes a loop and has two climbs and two descents.
This ride starts at the first truck and trailer accessible parking spot when you enter the park from Townsend and are heading towards Cades Cove.  The parking spot is about a mile past the tunnel and is indicated as a black half circle on the Trails Illustrated Map.
I’ve included a map below with some arrows and numbers (you can click the map to expand it to full size).  I used black arrows and red numbers (there are already black arrows, but with a little bit of studying you’ll see the trails I’m recommending in this ride). Continue reading “GSMNP 9 mile trail ride (loop)”

What to do with all these pears … Make a Perry (and some preserves)!

We have a pear tree. No idea what variety, but they are hard pears and were turning yellow and rotting in the center so we decided they were ripe enough to harvest. We ended up with about 35 lbs. of pears. I did some searching online and I think we have Green Anjou, but we can’t really be certain.
My wife, Stacie, picked the really nice looking ones and is packing them in saw dust to soften so she can eat them (pears are her favorite fruit). I took the middle of the crop and made pear preserves with a very light syrup. This was challenging as there were lots of bad spots that were found once I pealed the pears so some of the medium sized pears were the size of walnut halves once peeled, cored, and the bad spots cut off.
I took the remainder of the pears and made a pear wine, which even though it’s technically not a Perry, (which is either a pear mead or a sparkling pear fermented pear juice and mine (recipe below) has a lot of added water and table sugar), I’m going to call it that as it has a nice ring to it. Continue reading “What to do with all these pears … Make a Perry (and some preserves)!”

GSMNP 8.6 mile trail ride (loop)

This is a description of an 8.6 mile loop for horses (or people) in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  I will be posting trail rides and horse information for the National Park occasionally so please check back. Also, please leave a comment if you know of other online resources for trail riding in and around the GSMNP.
This ride starts at the Cades Cove Riding Stable parking lot.  We parked our truck and trailer just outside their gates on a large gravel turn-around area.  I asked at the stable offices if it was OK, and was also given plenty of information for future trail rides as the receptionist seemed to be a horse person herself and gave us some great pointers for the near future.
For this ride I suggest the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map #316 Cades Cove – Elkmont Map which in addition to the GSMNP map has contour lines and it’s much easier to distinguish between hiker only and horse and hiker trails. Continue reading “GSMNP 8.6 mile trail ride (loop)”

Trail riding in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I’m going to document our trail rides in and around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park because I’ve found very little useful or helpful information online.  Hopefully, someone who is interested may search for information like this and come across my descriptions and find them helpful for their own planning or to get ideas.  If you come across this and know of other sites, please let me know and I will link to them so as a group we can improve the knowledge of horse access in and around the GSMNP. Likewise, if you would like to post your own trail rides, I can take your information and write it up or I can allow you to create your own.  If there is enough interest, I can even get a new domain and create a trail riding forum/blog with additional features. I’ve added a category and a some tags for Trail Riding (and GSMNP), which you can see at the bottom of this post.  I’ll try to post our trail rides at least monthly as we tend to go once or twice per month.
We recently moved to Tennessee and now live within 20 minutes of the Tremont area of the GSMNP.  We have our own horses and trailer and these ride descriptions will be geared towards similar people.   Continue reading “Trail riding in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park”

It's not the GPS that is the problem, it's the stoopid.

There was yet another story about some people who died a horrible tragic death because they used a GPS.  I know it’s a tragedy and shouldn’t happen, but it’s not the GPS, it’s the (stupid) people.
I’ve heard of a couple who were lost 7 weeks after taking a logging road in the Pacific Northwest on their way to Vegas (one of whom died), this family in Death Valley, a group of SUVs getting lost in Utah, I remember a bus that tried to go through a tunnel that it didn’t fit through, a man who drove a bus into a lake, and another lake story, I’ve heard Park Rangers tell of getting calls from cell phones where someone asks how to hike out of where they are lost using a GPS, and many many others.  All usually blamed on the GPS.
Every one of these stories seems to “blame” the GPS, in fact this story calls it “Death by GPS.” As harsh as this seems it’s actually the “STUPID” that is the issue (so the story should be re-titled “Death by STOOPID”).
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a gadget guy and I love my gadgets. I had an early version of the hand held Garmin GPS which was marketed to hikers, campers, and the like. I have an in-dash GPS in my car, my wife has the ubiquitous GPS suction cupped to her windshield, both our phones have Google Maps with turn-by-turn instructions (walking, public transportation, and of course driving). Continue reading “It's not the GPS that is the problem, it's the stoopid.”

New safe guidelines for pork doneness #USDA

Apparently, I’m a month or two slow on the uptake, but last night as I was prepping the grill to gill a pork tenderloin my wife, Stacie, mentioned that the USDA had recently updated their minimum safe temperature for pork down from 160°F to 145°F.  I can’t explain just how happy this makes me.
For years, ever since a spectular dinner at The Pink House in Savannah, GA, I’ve been “underdoing” my pork.  The dish I had at The Pink House was a medium rare pork loin dish with a disclaimer on the menu that the USDA does not recommending pork cooked to a medium-rare doneness.  I ate it, I didn’t get sick, and I’ve been doing it that way since then.
My dinner guests often scoff and ask for the “done” pieces of a loin and I have gotten away with hogging (pun intended) all the pink pieces.

From paperbacks to Kindle to NOOK Touch

So, when I last posted regarding e-readers, I was still mostly into paperbacks, but did have a Kindle 1.  However, when the Kindle 3 came out, I picked up the WiFi only version and pretty much converted to electronic readers.  I think since then I’ve only read a one or two paperbacks (and I read a lot). I really liked the form factor and that I could travel for work, go on  vacation, or go camping and not worry about carrying a ton of books.
Unfortunately, I dropped my kindle face down on some rocks and messed the screen up pretty bad.  I hemmed and hawed about getting another Kindle as the cost was pretty hard to justify (If I had dropped a book, I would have been out a few bucks).
However, being a gadget guy, I went ahead and made the decision to re-up and get another reader.  However, this time I went with the Barnes and Noble (All New) NOOK Touch.  I decided on this for several reasons and am very happy with the choice.
Here’s my list of pros and cons and my opinion of the differences between the Kindle and the NOOK: Continue reading “From paperbacks to Kindle to NOOK Touch”

Goodbye wiki

So several years ago I started a wiki for stuff and giggles.  I was playing around with hosting mediawiki on a laptop that I had retired.  It was a fun project and I learned a lot about setting up web services on a simple linux box.  This was pre-buntu and before you could just add a LAMP package with a snazzy Linux distribution.  It had a short life of it’s own when people would actually post some stuff and I had a ton of good homebrew information on the site as well as some posts from family members and friends.
It eventually got indexed and got pretty trashed.  In the same vein as why I had started it, I secured it with various means (only registered users could post, simple captcha to create account) cleaned it up, and it had a long quiet life of it’s own with a few actual changes that were worthwhile. Every blue moon someone would put some spam on the site which was easy enough to clean out manually. Continue reading “Goodbye wiki”

Kindle Reader – #Kindle, #iPad, #iPodTouch, #Android …

I still prefer paperbacks and I am still an avid user of the Internet’s used bookstores (Bookmooch and Paper Back Swap), and wrote a blog about them a while back.  However, I purchased a Kindle for my wife last year and she loves it.  We scan her journal articles in using a ScanSnap, run Optical Character Recognition on the resulting PDFs and upload them to her Kindle.  She then has a search-able archive of a ton of recent articles on Equine Surgery on her Kindle for easy access and (restaurant, car, plane, bathroom, bed) reading.
Her biggest complaint is that I have purchased a few recent books on her Kindle and have been known to curl up on the couch with *her* Kindle on lazy weekends.  I also recently purchased an iPad, which has a Kindle App.  I’ve had the Kindle App on my iPhone for a while and since I’m leaving AT&T and going to Verizon, I recently downloaded the Kindle App for Android.
Here are my thoughts: Continue reading “Kindle Reader – #Kindle, #iPad, #iPodTouch, #Android …”