Saturday, July 23, 2011

More vacation 2011

Well, life got busy and we didn't get the rest of our vacation photos posted!  When we last left off we had just explored the quaint town of Sylva.  The next day was one of the "big" days we had planned on the trip. We were off to ride the Smoky Mountain Railroad.

Several months ago, while planning the vacation, Daddy asked Brant what he wanted to do on the train, what he wanted to see, etc.  Brant said, "I want to EAT on the train!!"  Well, that was an option on the Smoky Mtn. RR!  So we got tickets for the dining car, and, in the words of Brant's favorite train book, Jingle the Brass, we took a ride "on the plush."

We got up early for vacation and headed up to Bryson City.  Another little mountain town, the Railroad is a big draw, with train stores, names and cabooses around a lot of the corners.  We chose the ride, on the plush mind you, that took us to the Nantahala Gorge, past Fontana Lake and through the crazy, grown up area of the Natahala Outdoor Center.  When I was in high school, we took a mission trip out to Haywood County, NC, at the Hinton Rural Life Center.  One of the days we went rafting and I remember how neat it was to see the train while we were rafting down the river!

I'll let the photos do the rest of the day, as they can illustrate the beautiful scenery much better than words.  However, many were through windows, and I still had the evening setting on the camera (DUH!) so the photography isn't up to the usual standard.

The art deco dining car. The other side, pass the bar, was a lounge area, with a few more tables and  comfy chairs. 

The diesel that pulled the train

A bit of silliness

In front of our car, the Champion. A lot were named after local famous people, war heros and the Scottish families that settled the area.

All aboard!!

One of several trestles

Over Fontana Lake, which is a bright green color from the copper in the soil.   Fontana Lake is manmade,  when they built the dam in the 1930s by the TVA.  The reason it was built was to provide power to the Alcoa Aluminum company, during WWII they were crucial to the war effort.

When the water is low you can see the tops of the towns that were flooded. There was also a train tunnel that was used. When the water is low enough you can take your motorboat through it!  Brant wanted to try, but alas, the water was too high!

Taking a walk through the open air cars. We rode  open air at Cass, last year, but the heat this year made us thankful for the "plush."

Views you can only see by train

We loved watching Brant enjoy the trip.  Seeing things through his eyes makes life wonderful


On the way back we had an hour at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. When I rafted here there was one building. Now there are buildings on BOTH sides of the river! Right below us is the kayak training course.

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Brant checking out the river...when you walked near it the river had cooled the air so much it felt like the air conditioning was on. The Nantahala is usually only about 55 degrees in the summer.

On the way back to the train

Included in our train fare was a visit to the Lionel train museum on the  railroad property.   The layout was amazing, and we've seen quite a few!  There were also so many trains on display!

One side of the layout
 After a quick visit to the Nantahala Brewing Company across the tracks from the station, we had one last stop, a visit to the caboose.

The Smoky Mtn. Railroad does a neat Polar Express ride around Christmas, so maybe you will see us here again!

What did we do the next day?  Well, let's just say it involved a passport.

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