Big South Fork Scenic Railway




Ready to see the sights. What sights? We’re on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway.

train engine
Diesel engine on the trail

Currently the train is pulled by this diesel engine. They’re renovating a steam engine that will be used in the future. I’m not sure which is better; smelling diesel smoke on the ride or having smoke and ash rain down from a steam engine.

rock walls
Narrow slot for the train

They clearly didn’t waste a lot of effort creating clearance for the train when they cut the bed through the hills here.

rock walls close by
Keep your hands in the car here

I didn’t get the closest shot of the rocks. I should have looked at the sides of the train to look for scrapes from the train wobbling.

rock shelf
I thought I saw a gnome

Someone set up a colorful garden gnome on this rock shelf in the hillside. My cell phone camera couldn’t shoot fast enough and we were past it.

Blue Heron history placard
The stop on the train

The train’s sole destination is the somewhat historic Blue Heron coal and lumber camp. This placard explains some of the history.

coal tippler
Tippler for grading and loading coal

One feature of this camp was this very advanced coal tippler. At the time it was built it was the most modern I think in the world. Unfortunately the coal seams here weren’t as abundant as thought.

There was a small museum associated with this camp but not a lot of attraction.

Happy Birthday Chuck

Nat and I were invited to Daytona Beach for our friend Chuck’s birthday. Not just any birthday though; this one was designed to be a surprise. Chuck’s girlfriend devised a distraction to get him away from the house. While he was away folks gathered at his house.

He’s not here yet?

While we were waiting for Chuck this guy stopped by for a minute. Chuck wasn’t there yet so he left.

Chuck takes in the size of the crowd

While the gang waited watching the gate to the yard Chuck naturally went inside first. He was steered out onto his deck for the surprise. At this point he’s just noticing how many folks are in his back yard.

Very surprised guy
Still grasping the magnitude of the surprise perpetrated on him

About now he’s begun spotting faces in the crowd he never expected to see. Look closely and you’ll notice a tear.

A brotherly hug

In a matter of seconds he appears in the crowd and begins hugging. Friends, family, spouses, anybody in reach got hugged. This is one happy guy.

One of Chuck’s high school buddies gets a hug
Time for a hug from an old friend’s wife.

See what I mean? He’s not done though…

stunned look
Looking stunned and seeking another hugger
Daughter one gets a hug
Hugging his youngest daughter

The two daughters helped plan this. Clearly Chuck has forgiven them for surprising him.

people on deck
Catching up with some old friends

Chuck has finally gotten his fill of  hugging for now and is settled into eating and chatting.

People in yard
Some folks may have started drinking early
cake being set on table
Setting down the cake while we butcher happy birthday

Okay we may not sing well but the cake is another cool surprise. It’s in the shape of his business logo. Luckily nobody tried to put 60 candles on it. Unfortunately the only candles around were trick candles that light themselves.

Chuck looks like he recognizes that fish

Time to make a wish.

fish shaped birthday cake with some lit candles
Chuck makes his wish before snuffing the candles

Much visiting, reminiscing, and some drinking and eating ensues.

Next day we hit the beach to walk down to the Ocean Deck for a drink and a snack.

group walking on the beach
Chuck, his daughters, girlfriends, and my wife
window onto beach
Looking out at the beach while we ate at Ocean Deck
sign advising no alcohol beyond this point
Only one way to take alcohol on the beach.

Daytona Beach has rules about open alcohol containers on the beach. Ocean Deck is responsible in letting you know about the rules and (if you read the fine print) a quick happy solution to the problem.

Happy Birthday Chuck! We had fun watching you have fun.


Fountain on the wall at the Biltmore

Nat and I visited the Biltmore as part of the BMW RA rally there. We even managed to carry Sammie along.

Statue of Pan next to the pool

The pool has been filled in to restore things to original.

White tree frog in one pool

It was fun looking for critters in the garden pools.

On the roof of the Biltmore during tour

This is Nat taking pictures on the roof of the Biltmore during the Architect’s tour.

A grotesque on the roof

Support bicycle ride


A bunch of ROK folks chipped in to ride support for the Cherohala Challenge bicycle ride starting in Tellico Plains.



This rider rides his motorcycle to the bicycle ride carrying his bicycle. Pretty neat.


support riders parked before bicycle race
support riders parked before bicycle race

They had a good cadre of motorcycle riders from our club and some others. The ROK riders mostly chose to escort the longest ride of 113 miles. Some of the bicyclists rode all the way uphill on the “Dragon” then all the way to the top of the Cherohala Skyway still looking fresher than I would have a mile from the parking lot on level ground. Some of these guys were really fit. It made for a fun day of riding for us including a good scenic ride to and from the event.

Clip on Camaro


Aligning the front clip as it's lowered
Aligning the front clip as it’s lowered

I got some surprise help from a neighbor while my father in law was also around. With all the help we dropped the front clip back on the Camaro. I’d been finished for a few weeks and just waiting for some help at this.

The car is finished and we drove it yesterday. Next I need to try to figure out what’s up with the carb. It just doesn’t feel right. There are several rattles still present from the exhaust being too close to the frame and possibly from the jack in the trunk. My goal is to make it quiet and solid.

Shore defense from WWII


We went out to see Fort Miles while we were in the area. Very cool shore defense installation from World War II. They had some gun emplacements of 6″ and 8″ guns and a 12″ gun from a battleship that was there for cleaning up and display. I want to see what the 16″ guns look like but we were limited on time when we were there.


We could get up close to the 8″ and 6″ guns as well as some anti aircraft guns placed around. We also climbed the spotter towers. I know I’ve got more pictures to add to this somewhere.