I turned into a total voyeur this week when I discovered that a family of bluebirds has taken up residence in a birdhouse in my yard! I would probably take pictures of them hourly but I have to go to work & stuff. I think there are 5 babies but it’s hard to tell for sure & the house is up too high for me to actually look into so I have to rely on the pictures. They’re already getting pretty big & looking like they could leave their nest any time!
Hernando, Florida to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1,360 Miles
Stop 4: Paducah, Kentucky, June 30th – July 3rd
On Day 13 I left Nashville & made a quick drive into western Kentucky so that I could spend Day 14 exploring in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Unfortunately by the time I got there I’d been on the road for two weeks in weather roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun so although it’s a huge park with lots of trails & stuff I was running out of energy for outdoor activities & didn’t stay long. I’d like to go back though, maybe in the fall when it’s cooler & the leaves are turning. The name is pretty literal – it’s a big weird peninsula trapped between two forks of a dammed river, so there’s lots of water for boating, kayaking, swimming, etc. There’s also a wildlife lab zoo thing, drive-through bison safari, living history farm, a really nice museum at the visitor’s center, & some ruins of iron smelting furnaces.
On Day 15 I went wandering around in Paducah, where I found a tugboat with the same name as my dad, an art gallery, & a tree on the sidewalk where the roots somehow grew into a square (the square root, lol). Then a short hop over the Ohio river to Metropolis, Illinois to take a picture with the Superman statue in the middle of town & walk across the street to the Super Museum, which is basically a warehouse jammed floor to ceiling with some guy’s Superman obsession. If you’re around in early June they have a Superman Celebration every year!
Next stop: all of the Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois!
Well, it’s done. Two & a half years at USF & it’s all over. That doesn’t seem like something that should have snuck up on me but it’s a weird feeling to suddenly have this chapter of my life closed.
I’ve been applying for jobs but haven’t gotten anything yet. Maybe I’ll go on a road trip.
In other news, I watched a bazillion bats fly out of a huge bat house at Fort Cooper State Park. There were also two owls hanging out there obviously waiting for the bat smorgasbord to begin, which must be really stressful for the poor bats but was really interesting for me.
Cataloochee Valley is my favorite part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s far from any of the big towns or really popular parts of the park so it’s a good place to get away from the crowds at Cades Cove or Clingman’s Dome. It’s got abandoned buildings that are still in pretty good shape and is also the only part of the park where elk have been reintroduced.
I went out there hiking one day in October a few years ago when I was still living in Gatlinburg. The leaves were beautiful, the elk were out in the meadows, and I had the trails all to myself. Lots of little creeks with tiny waterfall made for a very peaceful experience. I had intended to hike out to a schoolhouse but I got started too late & didn’t want to be out there in the dark so I had to turn back. I also kept meaning to stay at the campground there but never got around to it. Hopefully I’ll make it back there someday & do those things.