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Old 03-01-2007, 04:21 PM
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Default Homesick for the Smokies...

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?


fishlicker
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Old 03-01-2007, 04:44 PM
Hawgdaddy Hawgdaddy is offline
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fishlicker,
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,

hawgdaddy
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Old 03-01-2007, 05:12 PM
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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.
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:22 PM
geerona geerona is offline
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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 <*))))><
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:26 PM
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Rog 1 Rog 1 is offline
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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.
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:46 PM
RFowler RFowler is offline
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"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.
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:54 PM
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Paula Begley Paula Begley is offline
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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!"

Paula
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Old 03-01-2007, 08:37 PM
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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.
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Old 03-01-2007, 09:42 PM
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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.
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Old 03-01-2007, 11:32 PM
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Default Thanks guys...

It's good to know it's not just crazy ole me.
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