not bad, actually

Today I finally broke down and turned on the A/C in my house. Not because it is hot, but because the humidity indoors hasn't fallen below 70% since June. All this rain isn't letting the world dry out, much less the interior of my house, even with all windows and doors open.

I've set the thermostat at 71℉ so it will actually run. I want to pull some of the moisture out of the air before things start to get moldy.

The air handler and condensing unit have been shut off at the breaker box since at least April. Whenever I last needed heat, anyway. I've had windows and doors open day and night while I'm home, and that lets the house stay nice and cool. I read my electric meter every morning and have had daily usages of as low as 2 kWH lately. Not today!

Clearly I haven't been paying attention to much of anything outside of the south end of Haywood County lately. It was a complete surprise to open the Weather Channel's temperature map for the Eastern U.S. and see myself sitting in a little yellow spot (high temps in the 80's) buried in an enormous sea of red (highs in the 90's) that stretched from the Gulf to the Great Lakes.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take Rocko on a tour of the East Fork area. We went into Bethel and bought a few groceries and I put a few gallons of gas in the car, then I took us off the main road in Cruso. We went up Chinquapin and Pisgah Creek roads to the end of each; Pisgah Creek Road is supposed to go all the way to the Parkway but there is a gate partway up with a sign describing it as a fire road.

One of many one-lane bridges on Pisgah Creek Road

Coming back up past our house, I pulled down into Camp Hope. We drove all the way up Wagon Wheel Way, a narrow dirt road through the forest, getting out to explore a little at a neat little wooden bridge.

Rocko on the wooden bridge on Wagon Wheel Way at Camp Hope
The weather was still feeling pretty warm, so I decided to head for the Parkway. On the way up we stopped and took a hike on the south side of the Big East Fork, heading upstream toward where they found that kayaker a few weeks back.

I was pleased to find Rocko's leash on the back floor of the car, and plenty of plastic bags in the trunk. Rocko hasn't had his leash on for a long time but he knows what it means. "Gotta get the leash and poop bags, Rocko" means "we're taking a good walk".

Eventually the trail got down near the river and some primitive campsites (clearings by the water, really), where Rocko was able to walk in the water for quite a ways, getting all the way up to his chest at times. He was obviously thinking about heading out into the current, but he thought better of it. I hopped from rock to rock, following him upstream. I was wishing that I had my fishing license and a fly rod.

One small stretch of rapids on the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. Rocko decided not to swim here.

As I said, I had taken plastic bags with me in case Rocko had to shit, and they came in handy. He only did his thing once, having pooped earlier when we were by a bridge on Pisgah Creek, but I also found a couple of empty drink bottles and some candy wrappers on the trail and in the parking area. Leave it cleaner than you found it, I always say.

After that good hike, we drove up to the Cold Mountain Overlook at the Blue Ridge Parkway. I tossed the trash and poop into the bear-proof trash can, then Rocko and I walked around a little bit. Not too much, though, because a) it was even hotter up there than it was at my house, and b) some tourist came walking way down by my car while I was in the woods. I had a bad feeling and skedaddled back up to the parking area, where he was standing not 10 feet from my car but trying to look nonchalant. I made a little chitchat about the heat as I loaded Rocko into the car, then we headed back down 276 to our house. It really was cooler down there, but then we have a lot of shade from the forest. The Overlook is right out in the sunlight.

I would have to say that I've had a really good weekend. Finishing up the laundry today, then tonight I go back to work, tanned, rested and refreshed.

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