Monday, January 3, 2011

Snake in the Car!!!!!!!!!!

It was late in the evening when we reached home after a 9 hour drive from Smokies camping trip in October 2009. Rama left to a party soon and I went to sleep tired. Around midnight, he called me to come out with a torch. Confused and half asleep, I went down from our Apartment and saw Rama standing beside the car, hood opened, pointing to something. I jumped away in shock when I saw a long snake lying still on the engine. The snake stood up from the hood, other side of the windshield right before him when he was driving back home. He immediately pulled the car to a side, called 911 and in no time a cop stopped by to know what was wrong. They tried to find it but invain, so he asked Rama to drive away (I am still not sure if he really believed the story). We went back upstairs, called 911 again and they asked us to just wait until the next day so that it would leave the car by itself.
 Next day, we spent hours on Google looking for snake species in TN and ways to get rid of a snake- critter control, snake traps etc. Critter control was expensive and they would take it only if they could find the snake. Snake trap was not suitable to place on the engine. We tried to figure out how it got there and identified two possibilities: either it might have fallen on the car the windy night or it might have accidentally got in smelling the chicken (the broth leaked in the trunk and was smelling rotten). Being Sunday, we didn’t use the car all day and checked it in the evening only to find it still there. This continued for the next couple of days, for a while think it was gone and later would find it. We drove the car to office, school and stores closing vents and confident it could never step in. When we failed to find the snake after that, we thought it left. We were wrong!!
 A week passed by and we found IT again when opened the hood before taking the car for an oil change. Immediately we took the car to critter control, searched for the snake but never found it. Totally vexed up, Rama bought a tong from them to give it a try by himself. We drove the car to nearby woods and waited until we saw it’s head peeking out. Rama with his National Geographic experience, caught hold of it using tong really close to its head and pulled it out of the car. A moment of panic… it struggled fiercely and in a second, fell off at his feet and disappeared fast into the trees. We stood there for a while to figure out where it went and finally drove back peacefully. Later someone identified it as a copperhead, a poisonous snake, OMG had we known it before, we would have taken a different approach. No doubt, it was a huge relief and an interesting story to share for days. But every now and then, we remember it and wonder if it was ever able to survive that Michigan winter!

Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky mountains..the first place that comes to mind when we hear about fall colors. We went to Smokies to check out its elegant fall colors in late October 2009 for the first time. As with any camping trip, it included a lot of planning, study the park and trail maps, book the campsite well in advance, know the place and activities, buy necessary equipment for example bear spray, mosquito repellants, portable heater etc.
Day 1: After a 9hour drive, we reached Elkmont campground late in the evening. This campground was our best option because it is almost midway in the park and provides an easy drive to either sides. It had no showers and one surely wouldn’t miss it (I hated to touch the ice cold water in that chilling nights). We set up the tent pretty fast, freshen up, lit the campfire and had dinner. Before sleeping, we had to pack all the food items back in the car and dispose the trash in the special dumpsters to avoid bear attacks.
Day 2: Excited for a real hike, we packed lunch and headed out for the day. When hiking down from laurel falls, we spotted our first bear, so close roaming just around the trail. Then we drove on the scenic Newfound Gap Road to Clingmans dome tower, taking pictures at lookouts. We stopped for lunch at Chimney tops picnic area and there again was a bear high up on the tree. The Clingmans dome trail was very steep and tiring but the tower, being in the center of the park, offered great views.
 Day 3: Alum cave Bluffs trail, this was the most strenuous of hikes till date for me. Evening we drove in the 11 mile one-way Cades Cove loop road which featured churches, mills and houses as remnants of Cherokee Indians (Native American Tribe) in 1800s and acres of grasslands in the beautiful valley. It was easy to locate deers and other wild life and biking and horse riding seemed popular.
Day 4: Explored south-east part of the park and hiked to Indian creek falls. On the way back to campground, we went to Cherokee. Very different from its counterpart Gatlinburg, it was very quiet, still stuck in 1950s with delightful museums, galleries and souvenir shops.
Day 5: Few stops at Gatlinburg and drove back home. This post would be incomplete without mentioning a special guest, our companion for the 9 hr drive back to A2. A SNAKE!!! Definitely interesting topic for the next post J

Smokies is very family friendly which is evident in all ages of people and huge crowds it draws every year. Few things we didn’t like: There would be miles of traffic whenever someone spot a bear, the trails are usually packed and the scenery is at times mediocre and not worth the drive and effort. Overall, it was good but exhausting and we had to plan for a second visit to explore the rest of the park.
And there we were, back to Smokies on a 6-day trip in May 2010. No doubt, it is very famous for its remarkable fall colors, but it’s beauty is no less in Summer. We stayed at the same Elkmont campground. This time we had lot of time, so spent our evenings reading novel (I got it from the campground office for free) sitting at campfire savoring chips and pop. We hiked to Rainbow falls, Abrams falls trail in the Cades Cove loop, Gabes Mountain trail to Hen Wallow falls, explored quiet walkways(unpaved trails into the forest) and the campground (we noticed there is a open air auditorium). This trip was very relaxing as opposed to the last one and white water rafting and the illuminant forest with thousands of fire flies at night were few highlights.