The Zarb Homestead

Living natural and healthy on a simple budget

Happy Campers: Indian Boundary May 22, 2013


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My favorite place to camp is Indian Boundary in the Smoky Mountains. I have been camping here since I was 2 years old. Whatever you are looking for in camp site this place has it including fishing, volleyball, picnic area, beach, hiking, kayaking, biking, lake and over 85 campsites with electric hookup. It is the best place to be in nature with still modern comforts of restrooms with warm showers along with a country store that has everything you need if you forget something. There is no cellphone reception and of course no WiFi for the “yippee” campers. If you are looking for spectacular mountain views, glimpses of wildlife, and a peaceful setting then you need to visit Indian Boundary.

They are open from April 19th through November. Gate opens at 6 AM and closes at 10 PM. They will lock you out but if this does happen to you, like it did to us, then you can set up camp in overflow for the night. It is $20/day per camp site. With the maximum of 5 people per site and 2 vehicles. You can make reservations online at www.recreation.gov

We stayed Friday-Monday and since there is not any cellphone reception we had no clue a frost was working its way to us. It was in the 20’s one night but we stayed nice and toasty in the pop up with the small space heater running. Along with 2 inches of rainfall on Saturday and the cold on Sunday we still had a great time. Below are some pictures from our trip.

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Horseback Riding in the Smoky Mountains February 19, 2013


Back in August of last year, I purchased a few vouchers off the website Half off Depot when they were having a great sale going on. You could get 50% off the already marked-down price, came out to be 75% off most of the deals. In the deals I purchased was an 1 hour, 5 mile, horseback riding for 2 in the mountains complements of Adventure Park in Pigeon Forge, TN. Being hectic around the holidays we did not have a chance to put them to good use but since they were going to expire on 2/25 of this month we decided to brace the cold weather and give it a go.

On Sunday, we layered up in our long underwear putting all our cold weather gear into good use and drove to the mountains. The high in Knoxville that day was 41 degrees and normally in the mountains it is about 10 degrees below that but the sun was shining and it made for a gorgeous day. We arrived about 30 minutes early because we were excepting traffic but there wasn’t any. Our group was to take off at 2:00 so we checked out the stables at 1:30 and walked around the place for 30 minutes until our group was called to meet up at the stables. I was pleased to see that the stables were newer and well kept. All the horses were in good health condition matter-of-fact many could cut back on the sugar cubes.

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There were 8 of us total in the riding group and everyone had little to none when it came to riding experience. I was the most knowledgeable of the group and that was frightening because I have not been on a horse since high-school and then I was bucked off and could not walk for days. Thankfully, experience was not required because the horses knew the trail well and all you had to do was hold on their reins and they lead the way. Everyone got their horse handpicked to meet their needs by our trail guy. My horse was named Max and he was a black gelding male that was tame and eager to hit the trial. My husband rode old Josephine. She was slow and wide horse but very tame and super sweet. They were the the caboose of the 8 horse line and I rode just in front of them.

I am sure I was smiling the whole time because I really enjoyed myself. It was so serene and tranquil being outdoors in the mountains horseback. I did not even mind the cold weather. For my birthday my husband and I are planning to go horseback riding in Cades Cove. They have a nice horseback riding trails in the loop but sadly they do not open until March 10th, so I will have to wait a few more weeks.

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If anyone is interested about this trail and would like to try it you can find more information at http://www.adventureparkatfiveoaks.com

 

Stargazing in Cades Cove November 15, 2012


We, the husband and I, are members of the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society and we held our annual star party and picnic in Cades Cove last Saturday. For non-local readers, Cades Cove is 6,800 acres nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. Most people visit Cades Cove to observe the wildlife such as white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, turkeys, woodchucks, and other animals. This is a great place for a star party because people can gaze at the star-studded sky without the obstruction of artificial light as you would have in the city.

We set up our telescopes in the first field on the right as you enter loop. The parks rangers allow us drive our vehicles on to the field and unload our supplies and then park along the side. It is pretty neat because our club are the only ones the park ever allowed to drive on that field plus when we leave we are allowed to drive backwards in the loop, pretty neat. We arrived at 3:00 and setup about 3:30 pm. All the members brought food or items for the picnic. About 5:00 pm we finished our club things and calmly waited for the visitors to arrive. The sun set at 5:30 that day and that was when the visitors started gathering in the field.

There were a total of 9 telescopes, including mine, setup in a circle. We were all given an object to locate in the sky and explain to the people what they were looking at as they made their way around. I was assigned the double cluster. Great, right? I know what you’re thinking as well as I was. What and where is the double cluster. After some investigation, I found that these two clusters of stars are located at about the same distance from the sun, 7,000 light-years, and are about the same age, 10 million years. I still didn’t know where it was in the sky or how to find it. People were starting to line up to see my scope and I didn’t have anything to show them. I was getting a bit frustrated after 20 minutes with no luck. I went and got another more knowledgeable member to help me out. Finally, I could show and tell over 300 people what they were looking at. That was a bit stressful.

We really enjoyed ourselves but it was a bit cold once the sun went down. Thank goodness we took hand warmers with us. I think the rangers counted 355 visitors that night. Last year we had over 800 people but that star party was also earlier in the year and when the leaves were starting to change. I think I liked having the smaller crowd. I would have been more stressed if there were 800 people waiting on me 😉

 

 

Hiking The Rainbow Falls April 15, 2012


The Rainbow Falls Trail is one of several that will take you to the top of Mt. LeConte and is also the oldest or earliest route to LeConte. The trail can be challenging, but also offers an intermediate reward in that it affords the hiker a rest at the beautiful Rainbow Falls.

The Rainbow Falls Trail is fairly challenging if completed all the way to Mt LeConte. Allow an hour and a half to Rainbow Falls and four hours to Mt LeConte. Hikers will gain nearly 4,000 feet in elevation by the time they get to Mt. LeConte.

 

Biking The Cove October 11, 2011


Most of the things I take pleasure in life have to do with the outdoors. There is nothing like feel of green grass and the smell of fresh mountain air to make one feel at home. Me and my husband recently purchased road bikes. This is something both of us enjoy, plus it is great exercise. At first, I admit I wasn’t too fond of the new bike. The ol’huffy, Wal-Mart, bikes I grew up on, was comfortable, extremely easy to use and inexpensive; however the road bikes are designed in a different way: your seat is higher, tires thinner, and handle bars curved. I wasn’t so sure about it but I wanted to give it a chance. All it took one ride around Ijams Nature Center to get me hooked. These bikes are a lot faster than mountain bikes and you can go longer distances without feeling tired. Overall it is a grownup’s bike J

My following ride was with a group of our friends around Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains. This is an 11 mile one-way loop that has rolling hills and steep grades and there are at least 2 places when you must walk your bike in order to avoid serious injury. It is an exceedingly scenic bike route. We saw a small number of young deer eating grass in the meadows, but there wasn’t any black bear activity that day. We really enjoyed the ride however a few “out-of-towners” didn’t understand bike laws in national parks thus we had a few choice words with two vehicles. Other than that it was a perfect day. The weather was a nice 70 degrees and there was no rain insight. The loop took about 3 hours for us complete and the sun was starting to set. At this point our bellies were screaming for food, so we stopped and had some BBQ on the Little River on our way back into town. Our luck one of the rude vehicles also decided to eat in the same place. We ignored their comments of “did you make it all the way around” and had a good dinner. I eat way more than I should have but I slept like a baby that night.