Sunday it rained. We took it easy in the morning and then took her car to WalMart for rear tires. While they did the tires we walked to Waffle House for breakfast, and then headed north to Norris Dam State Park. More rain. The rain didn’t stop me from taking pictures, but it did make me hurry them a bit. Jenn showed me a really pretty little waterfall she remembered from a previous visit. Using a plastic bag as a camera raincoat, I took several photos of it with the amazing green foliage.
Small waterfall in Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee
We also stopped briefly at a grist mill in the park. Even in the rain, the place was beautiful and photogenic. In fact, I think the rain added something to the pictures.
Grist mill in Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee
From there we headed east to Tazewell and Uncle Willie’s place. Uncle Willie is my mother-in-law’s brother, so he’s Jennifer’s great-uncle. He has a beautiful little farm on the top of a hill. The rain let up a bit while we were there so Jenn and I walked around the property. Beautiful but wet and muddy.
Jennifer checking out the cattle
The bull comes over to check us out.
We saw cows, bulls, two calves, the huge barn, funky mushrooms, grapevines, an evergreen tree with weird orange noodly-stuff on it, and more. I’d really like to know more about this orange noodly-stuff tree. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Orange noodly things on an evergreen tree. What is this?
Beautiful trees on Willy's farm. One of my favorite shots of the day.
Willie’s son Robin was there and fixed us dinner. It was good to talk and catch up with family. I had met Willie only once before back in 1980. From Tazewell we headed north and went through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.
Cumberland Gap Tunnel
I had remembered the road cutting through the tip of Virginia, but we didn’t do that on this trip. That’s because the tunnel, which only opened in 1996, is a straighter route and doesn’t go through Virginia. The tunnel is 4,600 feet long and connects Tennessee and Kentucky under the Cumberland Gap. The road it replaced had been dubbed “Massacre Mountain” due to the large number of accidents on the twisty road. After the tunnel was built, the old road, which was blazed by Davy Crocket, was torn up and left in a more natural state.
Soon after exiting the tunnel, we arrived in Middlesboro, Kentucky and then continued on up the road to Pineville, where Jenn’s grandmother grew up. The old family house is still there and we found it without any trouble. It’s in a lovely setting but has certainly seen better days. It’s right next to Pine Mountain State Park, so we took a road through the park instead of returning the same way. (We often made circles rather than backtracked. It’s more interesting to see something different.) We came across very few other cars and no people on Pine Mountain. Of course, the day was a bit foggy and rainy. Most of my pictures on the mountain were taken through the car windshield.
Jennifer on the merry-go-round
One stop was made at a picnic area to take advantage of the rest rooms and Jenn found a merry-go-round in the playground. Whoo hoo! Photo op!
It was quickly getting dark as we headed west toward the highway. We came across a downed tree across the road, but luckily there was just enough room to squeeze the car around it. It felt good to get on the highway (I-75) to head south again, until we got into a traffic jam due to some road work. There was no place to get off and go around, but we finally got past the construction, made a quick stop at a Starbucks in Clinton for a hot mug, and then headed home.