Biodiversity in the Smoky Mountains amazes the experts…

This is a great, longer article on the species being found in the Smoky Mountains.  There are more species found here, than most other places on earth.  There are a number of species that have been found only in the Smokies.  If you have a couple of minutes, it would be well worth it to spend that time reading the article below.

http://www.audubonmagazine.org/features1007/nationalParks.html

-Raymond

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Visitors to the Smokies about the same as last year

So far this year, the number of visitors to the Smokies is about the same as this time last year.  According to the article below, about 54 more people have visited since this time last year.  Considering last year more visitors visited since 2000, that means the Smoky Mountains are extremely popular.  With the economy in the tank, the fact that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free probably means many people are vacationing there to keep vacationing.  I think that’s a great thing.  There is usually something good in everything if you look hard enough.  While the economy may be tanking, just think of the people who will learn more about the Smokies because of that.  My guess is, many of those folks will be back for years to come.

http://www.wreg.com/news/sns-bc-tn–smokiesvisits,0,3612657.story

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Air Quality in the Smoky Mountains improving

Billions have been spent to clean up the air around the Smoky Mountains.  Here’s an article for the folks over at Knoxnews.com that shows the air quality in the area IS INDEED improving.  When we were in the Smokies back in the Spring, we spent time at the look-rock tower, which is near the live webcam that is used by the park to monitor the air quality.   You can see the live view from Look Rock at the link below…

http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/grsmcam/grsmcam.cfm

The full article has lots of great info, as well as a video from Look Rock.  Check it out.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/aug/18/monitoring-air-quality-at-look-rock/

You can always check our full line of live webcams from around the smokies here… https://gosmoky.wordpress.com/smokies-webcams/

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I found a statue to avoid at Ripley’s Museum in Gatlinburg…

According to the marketers, 2,000 people claim to have gotten pregnant after touching either the fertility statue above, or another similar one now on display at Ripley’s Museum in Gatlinburg. 

If you need to get pregnant, I suppose it can’t hurt to touch them.  If you’re like me, and don’t need another child at this time, you’ll avoid it just in case. 

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/aug/04/fertility-statues-on-display/

Raymond

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New ride at Dollywood in 2011… BARNSTORMER

Dollywood has announced plans for a new ride next year.  Due to the economy, the announcement of new rides has not been as quick as it has been in the past.  I’m looking forward to this new one.  This will be a high flying ride built on a traditional barn building.  There will also be other barn-themed fun things for the kids to do around the “barn.” This should be in place for next year’s season.  Can’t wait to check it out.

The link to the Dollywood press release is listed below.  I also copied the script of the press release below that…

http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100802005229&newsLang=en

Dollywood Theme Park Announces New Barnstormer for 2011

$5.5 Million Project Creates Fun-Filled Barnyard-Themed Area

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–High-flying high jinks take to the sky at Dollywood for the 2011 season with the new Barnstormer ride, a $5.5 million family thrill ride situated in a barnyard-themed area which also includes play areas for younger guests.

“I remember my daddy and granddaddy talking about the old barnstormers that used to do all kinds of crazy stunts above the fields where they’d work crops”

“I remember my daddy and granddaddy talking about the old barnstormers that used to do all kinds of crazy stunts above the fields where they’d work crops,” Dolly Parton said. “My new Barnstormer ride offers folks those same breathtaking moments, high in the sky above Dollywood. And I’ve recreated a critter-themed barnyard that reminds me of growing up on the farm here in the Smoky Mountains!”

Taking its name from the daring aerialists and stunt pilots of the 1920s, the Barnstormer features two pendulum arms with seating for 32 riders. Seated back to back, riders travel progressively higher on each swing of the Barnstormer’s massive arms, reaching a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation. At its peak, the Barnstormer reaches a staggering 81 feet in the air, taking riders high above the barn’s rooftop and the area’s treetops. Situated in the lush foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Barnstormer rests amid a traditional red barn on the Owens Farm, a nod to Parton’s family’s rural upbringing.

While the Barnstormer fills the air above the barn, children’s play areas dot the landscape around the barn. With a fun, barnyard theme, children can enjoy a 22-foot by 16-foot bi-plane play area as well as a pig pen water play area.

The Barnstormer has a ride capacity of 450 passengers per hour, and a 48-inch minimum height requirement.

The Barnstormer is adjacent to the Mountain Slidewinder, one of the park’s most popular rides which opened in 1987.

The new area opens in March 2011 to usher in Dollywood’s 26th operating season.

The number one ticketed attraction in Tennessee, Dollywood is an award-winning 150-acre family adventure park located in Pigeon Forge near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Open nine months a year (late March to early January), Dollywood hosts four of the South’s largest festivals and offers more than 40 rides and attractions, including Thunderhead, twice named the world’s No. 1 wooden coaster, and Mystery Mine coaster, Theme Park Insider’s 2007 Best New Attraction. In addition to the 2009 Golden Ticket Award for Best Shows, Dollywood is the recipient of 15 Big E Awards in recognition of the park’s live entertainment which features country, bluegrass, gospel and Appalachian music. The Golden Tickets’ 2007 Publisher’s Pick for best theme park, Dollywood also is a two-time winner of the Golden Ticket Award for Best Christmas Event. In addition, a dozen crafters authentic to the East Tennessee region demonstrate daily. For more information, visit www.dollywood.com.

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Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail remains closed due to problems with paving contractor

This is one of our favorite roads in the Smokies.  We found it on our honeymoon, when one of the worst rainstorms/floods to hit the are hit the area.  I saw the road on a map, and thought it would be a nice “bypass” around the strip in Gatlinburg back to our condo.  It was raining hard, and lightning every few seconds.  Oh, and it was already dark out.  Needless to say, Roaring Fork is difficult in those conditions.  I forgot to add that the water in the rivers throughout wasextremely high.  It was so high under one bridge that it was splashing up onto the road slightly as the river flowed under the bridge.  Anyhow, after driving about a 3-5 miles per hour for an hour or so, we made it out.  While we were scared of THAT drive, we could see via lightning flashes that this was definately a place we wanted to come back to visit.  It has become one of the “to do” things every trip we take to the Smokies (when the road is open). Normally it is open all spring/summer/fall.  However, it has been closed since early this year, and it looks like it will not be open again anytime soon.  The park is having problems with the Florida-based contractor repaving the road.  I’ll let you know here on the blog when I hear about when it will reopen.  Check out the link below for more…

http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=126344&odyssey=mod_mostread

Raymond

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Learn about the volunteers, who make finding/seeing Elk in the Smoky Mountains even more enjoyable

Another great read below, from the folks over at Knoxnews.com.  This time, they talked to volunteers who are there to help you learn more about the beautiful Elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The majority of Elk can be see in the Cataloochee Valley area. That’s where many of the volunteers work, answering questions, giving information and advice on the Elk who are flurishing in the Smokies.  Personally, I’ve never been to Cataloochee (something I’m not proud of🙂. That is definately high on my to-do list for the Smokies, but as many times as I’ve been to the Smokies, I’ve yet to visit Cataloochee.  It is a more remote area of the park for most visitors.  That’s one reason when the Elk were reintroduced, they were reintroduced to the Cataloochee area.  On a recent trip, back in March, we DID see Elk outside of Cherokee in the park.  They are magnificant.  I highly recommend looking for them when you’re in the area.  Ask where to find them at the visitor centers.  They may be able to point you in the right direction.  Once you get there, one of the many volunteers in the “Bugle Corps” may be able to point out things about the Elk you never would have known.  When I retire, I can see myself moving to the Smokies, and volunteering to do something similar, so I suppose that’s part of why this particular article hit home for me.  Enjoy!

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/jul/17/the-bugles-call/

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