Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I really enjoy a good hike and Tennessee is full of places to satisfy any level of activity. I am 63 years old (for another month) and 20 to 30 pounds over weight, so I don't ever over do it. However, if I haven't just had some medical procedure or operation, then I can do a good 4 to 5 miles without falling out on the trail.
Most of the trails I go on are within this limitation and doesn't require over 2 or 3 hours on the path. I put together this "Tennessee Hikes" set on Flickr so I can remember where I've been, where I'd like to go back to, and just to show others what the trail is generally like.

Enjoy the trails I've been on, or just
GO HERE and enjoy them without leaving the house!


If you do a lot of hiking and wildflower photography, or just like to look, you're probably like me can't remember all the names of the flowers you find. To make it easier for me, I created this handy little "Tennessee Wildflower" set on Flickr. You only have to GO HERE, and either pass your cursor over the flower that looks close and then double click it! Or, you can click on "Slideshow" and sit back and just enjoy the colors of the seasons. Most of these are native to Tennessee, but you will find a few I spotted in Alaska, Florida, and other places I've visited. However, the majority are Tennessee Wildflowers, and predominately East Tennessee flowers.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


Sixty-three years ago (1946) Eldridge Litton founded Litton’s Market originally located in the small north Knoxville community of Inskip. Litton's Market became known for offering a wide range of groceries, produce, hardware, feed, and it was a full service gas station!

Today, in the heart of Fountain City it's a crowded institution (restaurant) that is well known to the locals for high quality ingredients and what are arguably the best burgers in Knoxville. Newcomers need to know that when you arrive, you need to put your name on the seating chalkboard to ensure you get a table as orderly as possible.

Litton's interior is similar to a country style market with products they serve proudly displayed. Several meat cases display the meats served in the restaurant and to the front and right of the counter is some of the best desserts Knoxville has to offer.

Litton's Market and Restaurant is known for their burgers and have graced the pages of Southern Living Magazine as being the best. If you visit at peak serving hours, expect to wait. Litton's is clearly a Knoxville tradition and the local regulars will definitely out number the new comers.

One other plus of satisfaction, is that Litton's recently received a 100 on their Health Inspection Report!

Judy and I broke tradition, having been wanting a good chili/slaw dog for sometime, and ordered the huge Chili Dog. It's a quarter pound all beef frank grilled then topped with slaw, cheddar cheese, homemade chili and bun, and fresh onions. We also got an order of onion rings on the side.

There's nothing ever frozen at Litton's, and even the onion rings are hand made at the restaurant.

Unfortunately, even though I decided to take half of mine home, I still had no room for dessert! That's a shame at Litton's because their homemade desserts are celebrated as the best anywhere! However, my recent surgery seems to be working well and holding down the amount I can eat at one sitting. Hopefully, that will be a good thing!

Judy had an appointment earlier to get her 10-year old "permanent cosmetics" refreshed! I won't go into that here, but it keeps her beautiful, so I went along to help locate the shop which had since relocated. I ended up sitting in the car for the most of 3 hours, with a short break at the new Kroger store nearby. Their facilities were big, new, clean, and came just in the nick of time!

Before stopping at Litton's, we did a short "Dogwood Arts Festival" tour of Gibbs Road. The garden side of the Fountain City trail begins on Gibbs Road where the houses and the bright pink dogwood trees date from the early 1920's.

When those trees were planted, pink dogwoods were big
news in horticulture. They had only recently been developed by grafting wild pink trees on white dogwood rootstock. Native pink dogwoods are very rare, but a few of them exist in Knoxville's woodlands. In the wild, their blossoms are a very pale shell pink.

The festival last the entire month of April, so if you ever plan to visit East Tennessee, try and schedule so you can see the beauty of Knoxville in spring!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Spring has sprung here, with a little setback expected over the weekend when the nighttime temps are expected to dip to the mid-30's again. However, we have been having 70 to 80 degree days with loads of sunshine. It's all brought the hills alive with tiny green leaves accenting the views around Harriman.

But I'm a little leery of spring, having some health setbacks over the past 3 years that seem to begin with the spring warmth.

Just like last spring, after falling and breaking 4 ribs, this spring has been a long season for me.

This spring began by having to have what's called the TUNA procedure, which stands for "Transurethral Needle Ablation", on my prostate. This procedure is performed by placing interstitial radio frequency (RF) needles through the urethra (yelp, right up there) and into the lateral lobes of the prostate, causing heat-induced coagulation necrosis. The tissue is heated to 110°C at an RF power of 456 kHz for approximately 3 minutes per lesion. In my case there were 7 points that were heated.

The idea is the prostate tissue will die away, leaving a space that allows the urethra to expand into, therefore increasing urine flow.

Thankfully, that procedure worked to textbook perfection and I am now enjoying the benefits of a younger prostate - no sense of urgency, no getting up multiple times at night, and no pain or straining.

The day after the final checkup of that procedure, I had an esophageal spasm and had to go to the ER for an emergency dilation! I have had this spasm problem for almost 20 years, and have had a dozen or more dilation procedures during that time.

After this episode, the doctor suggest I have the Nissen Fundoplication surgery.

During fundoplication surgery, the upper curve of the stomach (the fundus) is wrapped around the esophagus and sewn into place so that the lower portion of the esophagus passes through a small tunnel of stomach muscle. This surgery strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach (lower esophageal sphincter), which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily. This allows the esophagus to heal. This procedure is often done using a laparoscopic surgical technique these days.

The one thing I wasn't prepared for was the excruciating pain that follows the laparoscopic surgery for at least 3 days! I tell you truthfully, I cried out several times over the next 2 days for God's help...either way...let me die or make it stop! The CO2 that's used to pump up the body cavity for that surgery slowly seeks a way out of the body and it's usually, as in my case, tries to leave through the points of the shoulders and the right rib cage! The left shoulder was probably the worst effected area, with the tiny point on my shoulder screaming for an ice-pick to make an escape hole!

It reminded me the time I was nearly pushed to the point, during a gout attack on my left big-toe, of chopping it off. I swear it would have hurt much less!

However, I'm happy to report that the stomach wrap procedure was also done to textbook perfection and I'm nearly back to my old strength. I had the stitches out today and the little holes (seen attached before stitch removal) have healed well.

So, with all this, plus the weekly visits to an allergist for shots to desensitize me against mold, it's been one slow spring. However, I have yet to be throttled by a pneumonia episode since beginning them last summer. Last year, I had pneumonia three times!

I would imagine my insurance company has had to pay well over $20K for all these visits, follow ups, procedures, and shots! I'm hoping I get all this out of the way before reaching 65.

So, the weather has been nice, up to 85 Tuesday, when Judy and I took to the East Tennessee trails once again. We put in a little over 2 miles, and saw some of the most spectacular views East Tennessee has to offer. These views are within a 25 mile drive of our home too!

I have written about, at least on my Princess Theater blog, the Obed Wild and Scenic River Valley. However, I knew then that I would have to take Judy back up there to see it. She loves to be taken on adventures, to do a little walking, to take photos, and explore the countryside. This trip was no exception, she loved the Lilly Access area on Clear Creek in Morgan County, Tennessee, and the Nemo Access further done the Obed Valley where the Emory River begins.

Like I said, we did quite a bit of walking, especially for someone that had surgery just a week earlier!

If you had scenery this beautiful, this close to your front door, how often would you go?

We have identified about a half dozen such places since we've retired, and we try to get around to all of them at least once a year.

There's a big weekend planned in Harriman, a production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the college, and the first of the summer's downtown "Crusin's" is scheduled. I think our plans are to attend both events and enjoy the spring air while it's still relatively cool outside.

So, get out there...find something to do my friends. Life is short, so never put things off until another day. Those plans might be interrupted by a funeral!

I took a lot of photos of the Obed Valley, if you would like to view them, CLICK HERE!