Smoky Mountains

An account (and photos) of Michelle’s first trip to the Smoky Mountains in May 2005. She enjoyed hiking sitting in my backpack.

We visited the Smoky Mountains National Park about 3 months ago. My previous visit there was probably around the time I started this weblog.

Usually we camp there but since this was our first real hiking trip with Michelle we didn’t want to risk camping (plus our tent is for 2 persons only). Michelle enjoyed the drive out and started getting a little cranky only near the end. We have figured out that her normal limit for continuous driving is about 3 hours.

The first day, we started on Newfound Gap Road and then drove to the highest peak in the park, Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet or 2,025 m). There was a short 0.5 mile hike to the summit and the observation tower at the end of the road. Since Michelle was taking her morning nap at the time, we waited in the parking lot for 30 minutes. Just as we had decided that I would go up alone, Michelle woke up. This has become a routine for us now since anything we do we have to be careful about her rest, food and schedule.

We put her in the backpack we had bought recently. The backpack carrier is for older children than the Baby Bjorn front carrier we already had. Also, the backpack makes the child much easier to carry on a hike. It is pretty stable and the weight distribution between the hips and the shoulders keep the then-18 lb Michelle (plus a few lbs for the backpack) reasonably carry-able. It also has decent pockets for putting stuff, like food, diapers, in.

There is an observation tower at the top of the summit at Clingmans Dome. There we met an old couple who had hiked on the Appalachian trail from Springer Mountain, GA (a hike of about 200 miles) and were headed all the way to New Hampshire (more than 2000 miles). Michelle enjoyed the scenery at the tower and kept babbling. She was, however, a complete daddy’s girl and did not spend much time with Amber.

We drove then to Gatlinburg, TN on the northern end of the park. Gatlinburg seemed full of tourists. We got out of there and drove the scenic Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and hiked to Grotto Falls there. This hike wasn’t too difficult and was short (1.5 miles one way). However, there was some elevation change and the trail was a bit muddy and rocky in places. Also, we had to cross a few small streams on the way. Amber got tired on the way, but Michelle enjoyed it a lot. She was delighted at the river, the plants and finally the waterfall. She also enjoyed being in the backpack. When we got back to the car, Michelle was so pleased to see her car seat that she tried to climb into it herself.

Back at the hotel, we stepped out to the deck of our room where we could see the river flowing behind the hotel. Michelle showed some new appreciation for water then and stared at the river for a while. Back in the room, Michelle and I had a lot of fun playing and chasing each other.

On Sunday, we drove back to the Tennessee part of the park and took Little River Road to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. It has a one-way road that loops around it. The last time I was here in the fall, it was extremely crowded. But this time it wasn’t so much. It still took us more than 2 hours to do the loop.

We had wanted to hike either Abrams Falls or Laurel Falls, but the drive had taken too long and Michelle was a little cranky with teething pain as her molars have been bothering her for a while. So we stopped for a little while at the banks of a river and then decided to take the scenic route back to Atlanta.

Somewhere on Newfound Gap Road
View from Clingmans Dome
View from Clingmans Dome
Observation Deck at Clingmans Dome
Michelle and me at Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap
Grotto falls
Michelle and me hiking
Cades Cove
Cades Cove
Cades Cove
Cades Cove

From Townsend, TN, we took the Foothills Parkway. We enjoyed the scenic, deserted road to the Chilhowee reservoir. From there, we took Route 129 through the mountains to cross into North Carolina. This area is known as Deals Gap and the road has a lot of curves and turns. Every weekend, motorcycle riders and car driving enthusiasts gather there for a run (or more) through that portion of the road. Michelle was getting hungry and a little fussy, but there was no place to stop there. So Amber fed her a little banana and Michelle went to sleep while the car turned this way and that.

اسرائیل اور پاکستان

پاکستان اور اسرائیل کے وزرائے خارجہ نے استنبول میں ملاقات کی۔ کیا پاکستان اسرائیل کو تسلیم کرنے لگا ہے؟ کیا اسے تسلیم کرنا چاہیئے؟

جوناتھن سے پتہ چلا کہ پاکستان اور اسرائیل کے وزرائے خارجہ نے استنبول میں ملاقات کی ہے۔ یہ کوئی ایسی نئی بات بھی نہیں ہے۔ آج سے دو سال پہلے جنرل مشرف نے اسرائیل کو تسلیم کرنے کا خیال ظاہر کیا تھا۔ مگر اس وقت اس کا کچھ نہ بنا ۔ پاکستان اور اسرائیل میں ملاقاتوں وغیرہ کی بات بھی نئی نہیں ہے۔ ایسا تو جناح سے لے کر ضیا اور نواز شریف کے دور تک ہوتا آیا ہے۔ میری پوسٹ کے علاوہ بی بی سی پر بھی اس تاریخ پر دو مضامین ہیں۔ پچھلے روابط میں فرق صرف یہ تھا کہ ان میں سے زیادہ تر خفیہ تھے۔

میرے خیال سے اسرائیل کے ساتھ مذاکرات کرنے میں کوئی مذائقہ نہیں ہے۔ بلکہ اسرائیل کو تسلیم کر لینا چاہیئے۔ اگر آپ کا خیال ہے کہ اسرائیل کے فلسطینیوں پر ظلم کی وجہ سے اسے نہیں ماننا چاہیئے تو پھر تو بہت سے ممالک کو ماننے سے انکار کرنا پڑے گا۔ مثال کے طور پر روس، چین، سوڈان، وغیرہ۔ اگر آپ کو یہودیوں سے کوئی خاص خار ہے تو آپ کے نفرت بھرے دل کا میں کچھ نہیں کر سکتا۔

جیسے میں پہلے لکھ چکا ہوں میری دانست میں اس ملاقات کی وجہ اسرائیل اور ہندوستان کے تعلقات ہیں۔ پاکستان کی دفاعی انتظامیہ کو خدشہ ہے کہ یہ تعلقات پاکستان کے لئے مسائل پیدا کر سکتے ہیں۔ اس کے علاوہ پاکستان اسرائیل سے دفاعی ساز و سامان اور ٹیکنالوجی بھی خریدنا چاہتا ہے۔ میرا گمان ہے کہ اسرائیل کھلے عام ملاقاتوں اور تسلیم کیے جانے کے بغیر یہ سب کچھ کرنے پر راضی نہ تھا۔ اگر پاکستان اسرائیل کو مان لے تو ان دونوں جوہری طاقتوں کو ایک دوسرے سے خطرہ نہیں رہے گا۔ اس کے علاوہ اسرائیل ہندوستان اور پاکستان میں سے کسی ایک کا ساتھ اور دوسرے کے مخالف ہوئے بغیر دونوں سے تجارت کر سکے گا۔ جوناتھن کے علاوہ بی بی سی کے عامر احمد خان اور Haaretz کا بھی یہی خیال ہے کہ اس ملاقات کی وجہ ہندوستان ہے۔ جون میں چھپنے والا یہ مضمون بھی پڑھنے لائق ہے۔

پاکستان میں اس خبر کا رد عمل کچھ ملا جلا تھا۔ مذہبی جماعتوں نے اسرائیل سے تعلقات پر احتجاج کیا جبکہ دوسری سیاسی جماعتوں نے کچھ شدید رد عمل کو مظاہرہ نہ کیا۔ پاکستانی اخبارات میں اس سلسلے میں جو کچھ لکھا گیا اس کے متعلق بی بی سی نے رپورٹ کیا ہے۔

عام لوگوں کا تاثر بی بی سی اور یروشلم پوسٹ میں موجود ہے۔ اس کے علاوہ بلاگرز بھی اپنے اپنے خیال کا اظہار کر رہے ہیں:

ایک ہندوستانی اخبار کی اس سلسلے میں خبر کچھ مزے کی لگی۔ اس کے علاوہ دو ہندوستانی بلاگرز (شعیب اور نتن) نے بھی اس خبر پر اظہار رائے کیا۔

اضافہ: اسرائیل کے وزیر خارجہ کا انٹرویو

Hblogger with Treo 650

Hblogger does not work. So back to mo:blog which barely works.

Let’s try posting with Hblogger. First problem seems to be that there is no post title and no categories to select.

Ok, so that did not work. Some error finding the image files. Too bad I liked it better than mo:blog. Back to mo:blog it is, with some settings changed.

These T-shirts were at sale at the whitewater rafting outfit when I went rafting on the Ocoee this summer.

Raft Naked: It adds color to the cheeks

Why the life jacket is better than a girlfriend

All I really want is something like Postie which is for WordPress. It has lots of features and works via email.

Treo Photos

A try-out of mo:blog to post photos from my Treo 650.

Let’s see how photo posting works from mo:blog on my Treo 650.

This first photo was taken from the Boston airport.

View from Boston airport

This next one is of midtown Atlanta.

Midtown Atlanta

I already don’t like mo:blog. The 5-way navigator button does’t work. I can’t select where the images will be uploaded, etc etc.

UPDATE: There are more problems than can be counted. Apparently, it uploads only one image per post. Also it did not select a category for the post despite a “default category” option in mo:blog. And it gave an error at the end even though the post was published.

I guess I should try HBlogger.


A good action movie with great cinematogaphy. Rated 8/10.

The movie Hero was good. It tells the story in a series of flashbacks. The action is good; the colors and the editing are also pretty good. The plot twists are somewhat expected but that is usually true for action movies.

I rate it 8/10.