Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Misty Mountain Hop

By my calculations, it is now Wednesday Thursday. So my apologies to anyone that expected the usual Monday post. Electronic communication of just about any sort was out of the question then, as you'll soon see.

Mixing a travelogue with pictures can quickly turn into that 6 hour slideshow from your aunt's trip to Iowa to tour cornfields. So I'll try to keep this as short as possible. A dude I work with at the Cinnabar Mines is fond of quoting George Bernard Shaw: "I'm sorry this letter is so long, I didn't have time to make it shorter."

We flew up to Tennessee and drove into the Great Smoky Mountains. I'll spare you the generic TSA/airport-with-kids hassle story, and say only that Jack was a trooper, and was fabulously behaved on all 4 flights, even to the point of being complimented several times by strangers. I just smiled and kept our own secrets: (1) boucoups of women that Jack could make eyes at and (2) Cheerios. El Capitan is so painfully predictable.

I had worked myself back into passable shape in the 8 weeks prior to the mountains by climbing up and down the mainmast rigging over to the crow's nest. Dying on a remote trail with a child strapped to my back isn't the way this crewmember plans on snuffing it. I'm more of a high-speed car chase/police shootout man, myself. And I carted our hero up and down every ridge, hill, incline and mountain imaginable. My personal favorite was rock hopping him across a stream that featured me balancing on one leg between steps. When he wasn't fast asleep, Jack giggled uncontrollably, loving every millisecond of being outside.

On Day 1 and Day 3 we did two family hikes with all 11 of us. But Jack was completely happy, and is officially tough as nails. Jack LOVED the pack elephant ride through the mountains, and I got violently sore nice and loose for the longer hikes on Day 2 and Day 4. While everyone else watched that ubiquitous American Football on Day 2, Melanie's Mr. Uncle Jesse and I were the only ones insane adventurous enough to go out for a 4ish? mile hike up Road Prong Trail. The trail used to be the main road through the area, but is now one of the least traveled trails in the entire park. It's reportedly the path Hernando de Soto came up in the 1500s. There was a good bit of snow near the top of the trail, where we ate at the coldest lunch counter ever, underneath twin evergreens.

Day 4 was the real killer pièce de résistance, where Mr. Uncle Jay, Mr. Cousin Nathaniel and Mr. Uncle Jesse (and yours truly) hiked 15-16 miles up Snake Den Ridge, up a connector to the AT and Mt. Guyot. I can mark #467 - Hike on the Appalachian Trail off my Bucket List. We drank from a real live mountain stream, got to somewhere around 6,600 feet, saw wreckage from an F-4 Phantom, took naps in the sun (surrounded by snow), and saw an Ursus americanus. Really. It was NEATO. My knees didn't think so. Day 4 was also Monday. Little known fact about Great Smoky Mountains National Park: No Blogging Allowed.

In the prescient words of Mr. Cousin Elijah, "This would be so much fun if it wasn't so unenjoyable." My thoughts exactly. If you can get past your aching, wet, blistered, and possibly bloody feet, it's the best time you've ever had.

(1) The Ice Baby Cometh. We very nearly froze the Skipper to death in the rain and low 40 degree temps. We are now well acquainted with anti-babyfreezing measures. Cape Horn, look out!
(2) Jack & Emily: THE CRUSH CONTINUES. Shameful.
(3) At 14 months, the Captain has now logged more flight hours than I had at age 21.
(4) Our Hero decided to start the vacation with the flu/croup and teething (yes, even more teeth). He was completely happy anyway.
(5) Jack called Belle the entire time. Pretty sure sound doesn't carry that far. I explained this, as I usually do, to little effect.
(6) The affinity with climbing and high places continues. Jack was on every table, chair or air hockey (!) table in sight.
(7) I want to issue an official apology to the lady in 20F. Look, if there was a way to lock the tray table and window shade, I would've done it. So I appreciate your 134 separate displays of patience. He's manic, but quiet. Count your blessings. We do.

Note: COMING SOON - I got some RIGHTEOUS pics, so go check them out in the link in the sidebar!

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Anonymous said...

Yes, a good time was had by all!!!

Jennifer Reinsch said...

Looks like you guys had a blast and major adventure. No wonder Bible Class seemed so mundane to Jack this morning.

Donna said...

How awesome! Did you really hike 16 miles? WOW! Jackboy is looking so much older! I love the baby leash- we have one of those! And on Marky's first flight I wondered why they insisted the baby sit by the window when all he wanted to do was lift and lower the shade-LOUDLY. Finally I was embarassed and grabbed his hand to stop him and the screaming started. You have to finesse these tricky situations....

Mike said...

All the while I was reading this post and thinking, "Misty Mountain Hop" has always been one of my favorite LZ songs, and when I got to the end of the post, there it was. You're just too cool.

El Comodoro said...

Ha. Thanks, Mike. I'm glad somebody besides me appreciates Zep. I'm finding that the Baby Blogosphere isn't known for it's appreciation of classic rock.

And this is the eternal question. I agonize on whether to set the player to come on automatically or not...

Ideally, I want the song to start blasting as everyone pulls up the post. But I worry about outing those in quiet offices.