Saturday, June 30, 2012

Going Berry Picking?

As July 4th approaches, luscious berries begin ripening across the mountains.  You don't have to look far because blackberry & raspberry bushes can be seen along most roads and biways.  You can pick a few as you are walking in your neighborhood but if you want to pick enough for a cobbler or jam you better get prepared!

Here are a few tips for a happy picking day...
  1. Know your area, make sure to find an area with a high concentration of berries.
  2. Its going to be hot!  Early morning 6-9 AM or after 5 PM won't be as warm.
  3. Get prepared!
    • Overalls or jeans.
    • Long sleave shirt to protect you from thorns.
    • Boots or tennis shoes - for protection and good footing.
    • 1 or 2 buckets with handles to carry the berries in.
    • A belt to put around your waste that will also be used to carry the buckets.  If you have two hands to pick berries with, you are going to accumulate a lot more, a lot faster!
    • BUG SPRAY- You are going to need this to try and devert the chiggers away from you.  Chiggers love berry bushes and to make you miserable.
    • A rag dampened with kerosene- this will also make the chiggers want to avoid you. Just tie it to your belt.  Hey, anything is better than frantically itching for a week.
Picking a gallon of berries can take only 1-2 hours depending on your location and the availability of the berries. 

Take a friend!  It will be a rewarding adventure for you both.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Affordable Whitewater Rafting in the Appalachians

With the weather as hot as it is we have got to get cooled off and white water rafting is an excelent way to do it!  Golly, there are so many places to raft in and around the Appalachian Mountains its hard to choose just one.  Near Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN there is several rafting businesses right off the highway! From Asheville, take I-40 West all the way to Exit 447 and your there!  Or, from Knoxville, TN area, take I-40 East to Exit 447.  Either way is about 1 hour travel time. 
There are several different rafting businesses in about a mile stretch... USA Raft, Rapid Expeditions, Rafting in the Smokies, & Big Creek Expeditions.  Call around for the best price.  I just recently picked up a brochure for $30/person at the Pigeon River Canopy Tours store (another adventure option!). 

You will have a choice of rafting the Upper Pigeon River with it's fast pace rapids or the Lower Pigeon river that is known for being the more relaxing of the two. 

You might want to bring a change of clothes but other than that, there is food you can buy there and they provide all of your gear.  Once you call and schedule your trip, it can't get more stress free than that.  So go ahead, have yourself a stress-free getaway!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Box Turtles in the Southern Appalachian's

Box turtles are a common sight around here when the southern air starts to get steamy. Once temperatures rise, hibernation is over and the turtles start digging their way out of the two foot hole they created to survive the winter months.

While hanging out at the house we kept hearing the faint sound of leaves crunching beside us and we were happy to see a box turtle slowly creeping along side the forest line!

By the color of the eyes and the large hump of a shell, we could tell it was a female. The dark red-brownish eyes are features of the females; While yellowish-orange eyes and a less dramatic hump in the shell are common characteristics of male box turtles.

She was a full grown mama at five or six inches long. 

Watch out for these little ones because when it comes to being up against a 5000 lb vehicle, slow and steady doesn't usually win the race. They have 7-10 years of obstacles to overcome before they are mature enough to even have babies. Once reproduction is an option, they will have over 100 eggs in their lifetime of up to 30 years but only 2 or 3 will survive.

So, what can we do to help them keep on, keeping on?  The two best ways to help our turtle friends live long full lives are to watch for them on the roadways and not try to make pets of them.

Happy turtle trails!