Thursday 25 May 2006, 12:12 am

Wednesday, May 24

Today we went through the Cataloochie section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This section along the eastern edge of the park is mostly accessible via unpaved roads. I did not know that when we started out, but it was still a fun day. There were several more areas with many butterflies, including one swarm in the campground near the restrooms. They swarm together on the ground, and the best we can figure is that they are gathering around scat. But we can't figure out why they would do that.

We entered the Cataloochie section at its southern end, near Maggie Valley, and we emerged at its northern end, where I-40 crosses from North Carolina into Tennessee. Then we headed back into Tennessee for the upteenth time in hopes of visiting a friend who lives near Knoxville.

This evening we visited Dave and Randi Elliot and their munchkins Ethan, and twins Matthew and Avery. Dave and Randi used to work at Aspect with Mary before they moved out to Florida. They moved to Tennessee less than two weeks ago. It was fun hearing about all the changes they've been through in the several years since we've last seen them. (Ethan was an infant then, and he is five years old now.) It was also fun seeing the children and playing with them. Randi took incriminating photos of Mary and me holding the twins. I think Mary is trying to get me ready for grandfatherhood some day, but she's going to have to kick her own kids in the pants first in order to make that happen.

Tonight we also decided definitely that we are not going to Spring Berkshires in Massachusetts this weekend. Tomorrow, we will head east toward the Blue Ridge Parkway, follow it up toward West Virginia, and eventually land in Washington DC, where we hope to spend several days. I hope we can find a motel this weekend. Mary's real worried about that. It finding a motel near Washington doesn't work out, we might try to head toward the more rural areas of Pennsylvania, like the Amish country, or we might even just head to the "middle of nowhere" and camp restfully for a few days.