This is a special day for a big history fan like me. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied D-Day Invasion during World War II. It's hard to imagine piling out of those flat-bottomed troop transport boats with enough gear to drown you, all the while staring down 100 different kinds of misery in the face on Omaha Beach.
About 10 years ago, I was visiting Philadelphia attending the Penn Relays track and field meet on business for the University of Tennessee. In between a long break in events, I took a walk down to see the Liberty Bell. The guide there told me that one of the last times the Liberty Bell rang was on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The bell, long since cracked, was struck with a rubber mallet to symbolize liberty and independence.
We'll ring our bell (triangle) twice today at LeConte Lodge to call guests for breakfast and supper. We'll remember those who participated and sacrificed much on that murderous French beach on that momentous day 70 years ago.
In other news, Thursday saw us enveloped in a thick cloud most of the day with some rain showers interspersed. Our high was 56 with a low of 50, as the thick cloud cover constricted our temperature range. We totaled 0.24 inches of rain.
Last night we welcomed a scout group from Rochester, Ill. It's a challenge to get much elevation training in the Land of Lincoln, so I hope the scouts get a sharp-looking badge for their ascent of LeConte.
Also, congratulations to Oscar, the short-legged llama, who made his first trip carrying weight to LeConte today. Oscar had made two training trips prior, but Chrissy put a "baby load" on him today for the first time. He was huffing and puffing a little, as he does have a harder time with the higher step-ups, but he delivered clean dish towels on time. He's still a ways from qualifying for his CDL and trucker's cap, but Oscar's getting better every trip (as is his fellow rookie Ranger).
Yet another great thing about LeConte Lodge is its mild and short bug season. I don't think I've gone through a full can of mosquito repellant in my four seasons here. We do have some of the winged critters flying about, but they're pretty tame compared to the vampiric insects below.
My least favorite insect up here is the woolly adelgid, a non-native which is responsible for so much devastation of the mature spruce and fir trees in the highest elevations of the Smokies. The park service has few ways to attack the invaders, and none of them easy, quick or cheap.
I was hustling around the lodge grounds the other day doing chores and broke a sweat on my bald head. A cloud of adelgids buzzed around my head, and I felt like Pigpen from the Charlie Brown cartoon. I returned inside to find a mirror and discover I'd drowned a couple of adelgids on my perspiring head. That's not a particularly efficient method of adelgid control, but we're trying to be good neighbors at LeConte Lodge and do our part. Happy trails.