Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hot Springs, NC

Three day weekend, how about that! We took this one to Hot Springs, NC. I found this crazy treehouse village campground on the dang ol' interweb called Creek Ridge Camping and thought we'd give it a try. I heard some people at work talking about Hot Springs and it's claim to fame, some springs. Most people go there, stay in a cabin, and take a soak in these hot tubs that you rent by the hour and they fill up for each party with actual hot mountain spring water. But you know how we like pretending we're homeless on the weekends and "roughing it"? Well, I just had to choose the most rugged organized campground in the area, and go there instead. So let's preface this by saying that I think the next time we go to Hot Springs we're renting a cabin and relaxing in hot tubs. But I'll have to report on that later.

The basic deal with this crazy place is that that have a handful of really sweet campsites along this little creek down in a holler. You can't park your cars anywhere close to your site, so you hike in from the cabin at the top of the mountain and the guy who runs the place drives you gear down about 3/4 of the way on his little 4-wheeler. This would be awesome, except when the guy is gone for the whole afternoon and his hippie teenage nephew isn't allowed to drive the 4-wheeler. This resulted in more trips up and down that damn hill than I care to remember. Just in case you ever go here- pack like you're backpacking not car camping. Here's the trusty Cherokee at the top of the hill-

But the good news is that these little sites they have down by the creek are just lovely. Each one has a covered deck structure they call "peekas" or something made-up like that. Some of them are more treehouse-ey than others, and ours - "Birds Nest" - was kind of close to the ground. But cool nonetheless.

The sites were nicely separated and fairly private, which they ought to be for all the effort involved. There was a thick understory of fraser magnolia trees (according to the eastern forests book). And being right on the side of the creek, it was really pleasant to sleep to that sound. Nice rock fire ring, with which to burn all the firewood I had the teenage nephew carry down for us.

It was actually a good thing to have the covered deck at the site, because it rained for a good part of the weekend. Seamus hid behind the tent. He's our lil' dumbass.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Little Spring Garden

Well it's been a long, mild Knoxville winter, but in between thunderstorms the sun's out and things are looking up. For the past 8 spring seasons, I've lived in apartments with no sunlight, balconies, or backyards. This is the first chance I've had to plant anything close to a garden. There was a lot of talk all winter about tilling a huge plot in the back yard and growing rows of vegetables. Not so much action on that front, though. The yard's not flat, we rent this house, and it just wasn't really worth all that effort this year- particularly since I'm not even totally sure how to grow vegetables anyway.

So my 2009 container garden was born:

Now there are certain things that you can't really grow in a little pot, that I would have wanted to plant, but they're going to need to wait until next year (namely squashes and corn). I ventured down to the enormous Stanley's garden center in south Knoxville, and picked out some plants: yellow bell peppers, "sweet olive" grape tomatoes, "big rainbow" heirloom tomatoes, skinny eggplant, sweet basil, purple basil, sage, and chives. I rounded out the party with a big honkin' dill plant from a dude in a truck at the farmer's market this morning.

I'm pretty sure that the full size tomatoes aren't in big enough containers to really grow to their full potential. I'll be surprised if they take off. But the herbs are looking really great. The purple basil is the scene stealer. It's doubled in size in the first two weeks.

I have high hopes for the little eggplant though. And the grape tomatoes have taken off like crazy in two weeks. All the rain has helped I'm sure. Also, I think shoving three plants in one planter might have been overdoing it. But I have a feeling that it'll be a huge bush soon, and in a few weeks start shooting out more tiny tomatoes than I know what to do with.

I promise to take more pictures, especially when delicious food starts growing on my back stoop. Happy spring.