Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Welcome Rain, and Unexpected Consequences

With drought being so prevalent in the eastern United States this year, we welcome rain; any rain or moisture that comes, no matter how much or in what capacity, is a blessing to us.

But with the rain comes unexpected and sometimes tragic consequences.

Yesterday, as the rain started to fall, I was excited as to what it meant for everyone in the area. Rain means more water in the wells, a chance to revive produce in gardens, a chance to maybe let the wildlife and plant life here come back to life... and honestly, I was a bit selfish and hoping it meant kayaking for Carl and myself, and river play for the kids.

While we are thankful for the rain we got, it is not near enough to get our water tables back up.

Pretty soon, I began to realize, we might be getting a bit more rain than we can chew... our front drive/road was now a roaring stream... our yard was running with water... I could only imagine the flash flooding on the rivers. There were reports of tornadoes and horrible car accidents.

There was enough water in our drive for the kids to play with their huckers in the rain...

Early in the evening, some friends called. They decided (MUCH AGAINST THEIR BETTER JUDGMENT) to go kayaking, and run "laps" on a local run. The river flashed on them. They are lucky, they are only missing boats and gear, not their lives.

Right now there is at least one kayaker missing in the Smokey Mountains.

We now know that this incident has been reported a fatality. Please send prayers and positive thoughts to the kayaker, his friends and his family.

As someone who has lost a close friend on the river, this will be a hard time for all involved. Please think of the friends and family over the following weeks.

Issac Ludwig will be missed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yogi in the Smokies

A few weeks ago, Carl went out to do some work at "Yogi in the Smokies". He came home incredibly excited and telling me we HAD to go with the boys...

So we did. Here is our weekend in photographs. They boys had a blast, I'm glad that Carl decided we needed to go!

The weekend was a camp wide celebration of Yogi's 50th birthday.

All three of the boys had a blast and loved Yogi and BooBoo, but Canyon was so incredibly excited that he was unable to contain himself! He would start "spazing" every time he saw BooBoo!

BooBoo was a trouble maker and stole Vince's hat...

Yogi and BooBoo drove around the camp every day meeting the campers...

Our little "home away from home"

We went on "Yogi's Ride Wagon" and Arden was the only kid to sing!! (And he didn't even know the words to the Yogi song!)

The park had a great play set and pool:

Yogi CampGround is also located on the Raven Fork...

Of course the boys were not without the company of their Lil' Huckers. We had a blast! We even got to see a hellbender that was over 2 feet long!!!

And it looks like I have 3 fishermen on my hands now... Rory is the best caster out of all of the Gittings men! He was routinely casting across the river!

Fun Weekend in the Smokies!

This weekend we went out into the Smoky Mountains to go camping and for a mini vacation with some close friends.

I'll be blogging on that later, and on all the fun and activities, but here are a few nature shots for the mean-time.

For the first time, outside of a zoo, I saw a Hellbender. These are an amazing, ancient and primitive creature. It was crawling out in the water about 8-9 feet from us and I noticed it and grabbed my camera. It was about 2+feet long! I swear this might be the biggest moment of the weekend for me!

Here are a few other photos of the beauty of the Smokies.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Praying for the hurricane...

Yup. Sad but true, we are praying for the hurricane to "stick together" enough to produce a LOT of rain here in WNC.

Things are progressively getting worse in the water/drought department in our area. We are over 2 inches behind on rainfall this month alone. If I am not mistaken, that is 18 inches behind in rainfall for the year. It is so dry that the ground is literally cracking and breaking apart. Gardens are dying, lakes are drying up, river releases are halted b/c of the lack of water to let out of the damns... All of this effects the economy of WNC as well as the quality of life for those of us living here.

It is scary to think that the real ramifications are. Soon we will be into dealing with the wild fires like we did last year, but it will be worse, we are even dryer than were were at that time... the apple crops will be smaller and less quality... WNC produce is not as big or even as appealing as it has been in years past... the farmers are raising prices b/c of smaller crops... The rafting industry, which is a HUGE part of the tourist economy here, is suffering b/c there is no longer water to release from the damns, less people rafting/visiting means less money stimulating the local economy which means higher prices for those of us living here.

The leaves have already started to fall. They aren't turning colors, just drying up and falling off the trees... this too means less visitors for the fall colors in the mountains b/c we aren't going to have the beautiful reds and yellows and oranges of years past. There isn't enough water for the trees to keep the leaves... heck, even the trees are dying.

All of this coupled with the higher gas prices, and people not being able to afford to travel/spend means that our little mountain towns will be suffering for years to come. Playing catch-up is hard enough... but when there is no end in sight, it is near impossible (and I am talking about the rain and the economy).

Our personal garden hasn't made it. We have gotten almost no produce. Even the sun flowers didn't survive. Our beans, tomatoes, broccoli, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, and garlic all just didn't fare well with the extreme heat and lack of water. We had about 3 radishes, 10-20 beans total, and no cucumbers that actually made it. (The cucumbers turned orange before they were even 2 inches long.)

We did however get our first zucchini and squash yesterday. Not too shabby, I just wish we had been able to get enough produce to make it through the summer without buying. I can't believe how long it took these to produce, we planted in April.

We actually had 2 zucchini but we ate one for dinner before I got to take a photo of it. The squash is fairly small, but the zucchini is HUGE! I hope that the plants continue to survive and give us more to eat...

Please join us in praying for rain, and lots of it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On a Kick...

I am on a purging kick.

I want to try to purge about half of our household belongings. I realize that in all honestly, I will probably only be able to shed 1/3... but half is a great goal. I have already started packing and marking items for next year's consignment sale.

I am thinking that I want to be out of debt in 5 years. Totally out of debt, that way Carl and I will be able to build the house of our dreams and live self sufficiently. The hardest part is going to be cutting out ALL extras. But, I know it is better in the long run and that we will be happier not being under anyone's thumb.

That being said, the first room I decided to "purge" (including clothing, and toys) was the boys room.

We also were able to get their "new"beds together and they are incredibly excited about the change! (So is mom b/c it gave us a lot more room). Carl and I stained and poly-ed the bunk-beds. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.