View Full Version : Homesick for the Smokies...

03-01-2007, 04:21 PM
Gee and I were just talking about this on another thread, and I thought I'd see if we were alone out there or not.

Here's my story...

I was born in Georgia, about half-way to the FLA line. Yes, that makes me a flatlander...and until I was 17 years old, I didn't even know we had trout in the south! My Dad was a crappie and catfisher and we always fished out of his little v-hull boat. He died when I was about 14 and I learned to fish for bass( and later trout) on my own - from books, magazines and later, from videos. My first trip up north we caught almost nothing, got lost and all got sick from some bad eggs! Yeah! Fun!

But, I loved it and I've gone back again and again - to the point now where I've almost completely stopped bass fishing( or catfishing, or crappie fishing, or anything else!). My wife and I used to joke about it during the earlier years of our marriage when I would only get to the mountains 4 or 5 times a year - she used to ask me every time if I felt like I was "home" when I hit the first hills......and you know what? I did! And I still do!
I've been in rivers before, but they aren't like Deep Creek. I've been in woods before, but they aren't like the Joyce Kilmer Forest. I've been down logging roads, dirt roads and forest service roads, but they're never like the Smokies.
When I turn off the pavement, and the tires of my truck hit dirt, gravel and puddles full of mountain rain....it feels like home....even though I was born 200 miles away in a place where you can see a mile down main street and a "hill" is that thing in your front yard where water drains along the street(better known as a ditch)!

Sadly, though we've been moving our way northward year by year, I still don't live "in the mountains". We can however, see them from the end of our street. So, it seems like every time we move we claw our way a little closer to the highlands that I think of as home. Speaking of which, I've read "the book" a dozen times or more, and every time I see a mountain laurel growing somewhere in town - which is always an artificial scene to me - it makes my heart skip a beat. I always think of cool streams, covered in shade, babbling down the mountainside and bright, pretty trout with green backs and orange fins. And when I think about those things,.....whether I've owned a home there or not, I think of "home", and yes, I do get homesick for the Smokies.

I've spent many a cool spring night and warm summer day in the Smokies, and if that's as close to actually living there all the time as I ever get, then I'll just be thankful to God for giving me that. And for letting me "go home" as much as I do. I'd be lost without the Blue Ridge...and that may sound strange or silly to many folks, but it's true.

Surely, I'm not alone out here? :)


03-01-2007, 04:44 PM
You're not alone. I was born a little closer to the Smokies than you, north Alabama. I grew up on the shores of Lake Guntersville. My father has always been an avid tournament bass fisherman, and I was well on my way to becoming a tournament fisher myself during my high school and early college days. Then I just became disgusted with it all and took to fishing way back in creeks and backwaters away from crowds. Eventually I started fly fishing in the Smokies and knew I had found home. I never feel more at peace with my Creator and my environment than when in those mountains (well, except for when I hang up my fly for the fifth time in as many casts on the same rhododendron limb...lol). I still live in north Alabama, and I still fish for bass, crappie and catfish on occasion, but usually just to spend time with my father or friends. It just can't match the mountain streams. My friends can't understand why I get so much out of catching 9" trout when I could catch 5 lb bass practically right out the back door.

I'll be stuck here for awhile at least. My goal is to position myself, both financially and relationship-wise, so that eventually we can move closer to the mountains and the trout I love. I would love to somehow make a living fly fishing, writing, photographing, and hiking the mountains. Unfortunately I'm trained to be an engineer, not an artist, but I'm spending almost all my spare time attempting to develop those skills along with fly tying and rod building. Who knows, maybe some day both you and I will get to move home! Another obstacle is dragging my wife a little father away from her family. I think she may come around though. She loves hiking and fly fishing and wants to be a novelist. How we both got suckered into engineering we'll never know...

At one time, I thought my real home might be out west in the Rockies. I've visited there, and would love to spend lots of time exploring them, but I don't think they'd ever feel like home like the Southern Appalachians do. I think I read where John Gierach said that some people are born at home and other have to find theirs, or something along those lines. Those words really speak to me, and apparently you. You're not alone. Take care,


03-01-2007, 05:12 PM
My great great grandparents were from the sugarlands (Newmans) and Cocke County (Fords) and left for better and flatter farming in Muhlenburg County (Ky). However, they left a little /\ in my dna and I had to come home for good after my last kid graduated from college. I am home.

03-01-2007, 06:22 PM
Fishlicker and Hawgdaddy,

Since I made the first comment on being homesick for the place I've never lived, only visited, I'll kick in my thoughts. I was born in Indiana and have spend my entire life here. I grew up fishing for bass, bluegill and the rest but spent many hours reading my grandfathers monthly issues of "Outdoor Life" from cover to cover. Probably many of them more than once. Dreams of far away places that I did not know I would ever visit. Grandpa had an old bamboo fly rod in his shed and I managed to find a line and some foam "bugs" for it, hooked at the age of 9 or 10. It hangs just feet from where I am sitting.

I discovered that Indiana had a put and take trout season in the early 70's and enjoyed that for a number of years but it was never quite what I thought trout fishing should be. On a tip from a friend I discovered Michigan's UP had native brook trout fishing and I made my first trip. Some of those streams were 4 miles off the paved road and another 2-3 miles on 2 tracks that were only negotiable with a dependable 4WD. These trout probably don't see a fisherman more than a few times in their lives. Walleye, perch and smallmouth are the chosen fish of that area. I was in heaven.

Shortly after 9-11 we made our first trip to the Smokeys. My father had encouraged me to make the trip more than once but their stories of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg never sounded that exciting to me. I never made the connection to the mountains being so close. I took my fly gear with me and discovered LRO quite by accident, in the old shop. I'll never forget a young man named Daniel Drake taking the time to explain how to get to the "Sinks" and what flies to try. I caught 5 7"-9" rainbows my first trip and fell in love with everything about the GSMNP and Townsend Tennessee.

I dread the traffic getting through PF but when we make that last light out of town on 321 and begin angling left toward Townsend I feel a peace that words can not describe. Whether I'm turning left to go to the park or left out of the LRO parking lot those mountains cause my heartrate to speed up and the thrill of what lays ahead brings a smile to my face from 400+ miles away right now. I believe that when GOD created special places like the Smokeys he must have been taking a break from his work and needed to relax and enjoy His creation.

Funny that I live almost exactly halfway between northern Michigan and it's special beauty and the GSMNP. I want to live in both places but would hate to be so far from either. If you live near the Smokeys don't ever take it for granted. Little Texas made a song titled "God Blessed Texas" and he may have, but He surely lives in Tennessee!

Wishin' I wuz fishin', g <*))))><

Rog 1
03-01-2007, 06:26 PM
My dad had the good fortune of marrying a girl from Sevierville within sight of the mountains. He would always bring my mom back home for Xmas and for several weeks in the summer. My youth was spent in a time when Pigeon Forge had only one red light and there was no I-40.

My grandfather was a hunter of trout among all the water on the Tn. side of the Park and I would always watch him leave up a creek while the rest of us played and had our picnic. I finally realized there were trout in those waters and got the bug. I fished those waters with my grandfather until he was 82 and have come to think of those mountains as "mine".

Each time I can find the time to make that 9 hour drive from Florida I do it and when I step into those cool, clean waters I truly feel at home and at peace with the world. Now that my son is old enough to go with me this gives me an excuse to make this trip a couple of extra times a year. He too has come to love my mountains and I truly believe there is something you are born with that draws you to such a special spot.

My wife also has come to love this place and has even allowed me to think that once I can get my son out of school we might be able to go home for retirement....dreams do come true.

03-01-2007, 06:46 PM
"I truly believe there is something you are born with that draws you to such a special spot."

I couldn't agree more with that, Rog.

I've spent almost 38 years trying to get home. My heart rate slows down and inspiration abounds in the Appalachians. A place where you can find true inimacy with our creator. It's a giddy feeling, like being a kid again.

Paula Begley
03-01-2007, 06:54 PM
It doesn't matter where I go or what I am doing, I always miss home. Thankfully, I can call the Smokies my real, rather than wistful, home.

At the end of the day, I think of clicking my ruby slippers and chanting, "There's no place like home!" :)


03-01-2007, 08:37 PM
It is interesting the effect the mountains have on people. While my family has been in or around New Orleans since circa 1845, and it is truly home, there is also something special about the mountains. As a very young kid, I lived in northern Virginia - my dad worked in D.C. - and we used to go to the Blue Ridge all the time. As fortune would have it, my dad's office moved down to the Gulf Coast, so he was able to come home, and I became a swamp rat. I loved (and still love) exploring the maze of bayous in this part of the world - you never know what you'll see, or catch. It's beautiful in its own way, but certainly not like the mountains. So, for me, it's an interesting dichotomy...I seem to like the extremes of elevation - either extremely high or extremely low.

Someone asked me not long ago on the forum when I was going to just give in and move up there to the Smokies. There's a part of me that's very tempted to do just that, but there's another part that would miss South Louisiana terribly, even with all the problems that we have here. Home is home, I guess, and having lived in other places, I can fully appreciate just how unique this corner of the world is - just try to get a decent po-boy anywhere else ;). So, I'll live here, but at the same time be comforted with the knowledge that the Smokies aren't (at least to me) that far away. It's always neat to see the first semblance of mountains making their appearance around Birmingham, with the knowledge that bigger and better mountains lie ahead.

When we left the Smokies last Sunday, on our way out on 321 towards I-75, I made it a point to look in the rear view mirror at the Smokies rising in the distance; there is just something to see the various shades of blue fading off into the background. I can hardly wait to go back - probably in a month or so.

03-01-2007, 09:42 PM
I grew up in Maryville and still remember those summer days me and my grandfather would catch a few on the LR and stop by Wilsonís restaurant for lunch or dinner. Those are some of the best memories I have.

03-01-2007, 11:32 PM
It's good to know it's not just crazy ole me. ;)

03-02-2007, 01:49 AM
I was born and raised here. I've always liked it. I used to believe I just liked east tennessee because it's where i'm from, but I'm starting to realize that it's more like what someone previously quoted, I just happened to be born where I belong. a few years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to move somewhere else for a little while. I wasn't really that serious about it. I can't even remember where it was, but I was just casually talking about it with my mother, how cool it would be to live there. my mother, who's lived in california, ohio, wyoming and puerto rico, actually started crying and went into this long talk about how this was such a wonderful place and that I didn't understand that and one day I would. well I did. over the past years I've had the chance to visit many areas of the country. I love traveling and have been to some really great places, but each time I come back and see good ole east tennessee with a different set of eyes. the more places I visit, even places that I find beautiful or interesting, the more I realize that I want to live right here. I'm young, and maybe one day I'll move off somewhere, who knows? whatever happens, please bury me in the hills of tennessee

03-02-2007, 07:44 AM
To All,

Looks like I have a few brothers and sisters living around this great country that are looking to go "home" for a family reunion soon. I wish I could make it down for the cookout but won't likely be able to make it.

ijsouth, I do the exact same thing in the rear view mirror as we drive down 441 toward I-40. I want those mountains to be the last thing I see and once we get on I-40 I won't look that way again. I also find myself singing "Rocky Top" once I get to Knoxville on the trip down from Indiana. Crazy? I don't think so!

God bless America and Amen to all you all wrote, g <*))))><

03-02-2007, 12:08 PM
Hello, my name is fishlicker and I'm crazy too. :) I have sung Rocky Top on more than one occasion( always when I'm alone though.:p ), and I almost always change the tunes to bluegrass as soon as I see mountains on the horizon...ususally something by Rhonda or Allison.

This weekend I am coming up, if I don't have to work. I can't stand it anymore. I just can't. I have to come up there. I'm going to try and bribe someone for Sat. off. :)

03-02-2007, 09:04 PM
I live on a farm --Red Lick Creek flows through my farm--this is home--I buried my parents not far from my farm--This place,this farm is home and coming back to it,always brings on that "you are home" feeling.Since 1973 I have fly fished the Smoky's.when I am not there,I long for the streams,and the park's presence,,,When i am fishing and cooling it in the park's waters,I think about home and my business and the things I should do to be a little better,for my kids and grandkids--that is what the Park does--Wet a line--cast a fly or two---and,what every you do,keep that line tight---

Dancing Bear
03-03-2007, 07:35 AM
I've been thinking about what to say about this topic since yesterday. It could turn into a book but I'll try to keep it short. We, my wife and I, both feel like wanderers trying to get "back home". We both were born and grew up within 10 miles of where we live here in GA. Our families took us to the Smokies when we were kids and like others that have posted, the mountains got a hold on us that won't let go. I'm 51 now and I still remember those trips. My mom has a black and white photo of my dad and me playing in the Little River behind Dock's Motel when I was 6 or 7 years old. We rediscovered Dock's several years back and we stay there often.I started backpacking in the park in the mid 70's and found a whole different world "back of beyond". I believe it literally saved my life. That is another long story. No matter where we get to go there is no place like the Smoky Mountains. It is home to us. Whether we are standing in a creek or on top of state line ridge,it is a sanctuary to us and one of the most beautiful churches we've ever attended. We can't wait to get back.

03-03-2007, 08:19 AM
I really don't think that I could live anywhere else in the world except East Tennessee. I know this because even though I may leave to visit somewhere else- no matter how beautiful or interesting it may be I feel a sense of peace & reconnection once I see the silhouette of the mountains upon returning. I have lived here all of my life, but spent all of my summers as a kid on the tidal rivers of the Georgia coast. I spent every summer there learning to fish, throwing cast nets for shrimp, baiting crab traps, and many other things that gave me an appreciation for the outdoors at an early age. But even with the indescribable beauty and the wonderful memories I had, I also remember coming home from a couple of months at "camp" with my grandparents. It would always start just north of Atlanta, through Dalton, & finally when I could see the Smokies I knew I was home. Now that same feeling hits whenever I drive through Townsend, Tellico Plains, or whatever town is my last view of the "real world." As I start heading up into the mountains, I breathe easier, my mind clears, and I relax- knowing without a doubt that I am home.

03-03-2007, 04:17 PM
I had some awesome parents who taught me their love for the Smokies. I got to spend every birthday from the age of 2 - 26 while camping in Elkmont. Wasnt the only time we went but we were always there for a couple of weeks in July. I learned alot while fishing, wading, swimming, & throwing rocks in "my" Little River. I have three young ones now & while I havent been able to camp with them yet I love to take them to the Mountains. Anyone who has been able to spend a day inside the park has been blessed.

03-07-2007, 12:02 AM
Tuckaleechee Climntine was my great great grandmother. Fighting Billy Tipton was my great great great grandfather. Yes, these people were some of the first settlers of Cades Cove. My mother left the cove in the late 20's when the park took over.
This is not only Home; but this is my deep ROOTS!
You talk about an ole country boy being Blessed; I AM! Every time I wet a line or walk pass a grave of one of my loveones who's buried in the cove , I have to stop and say thank you Lord for letting me be born in such a wonderful place.

03-07-2007, 10:28 PM
I grew up in the mountains on the North Carolina side and moved to Missourt (misery to me). I couldn't wait to get back to the mountains. When I ot the opportunity to move to Knoxville, I swore to myself I would never leave unless it was in a box or an urn. I love the mountains.