“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”

Hello from the Smokies!

My name's Mike, and I just finished my first day as an Artist-in-Residence at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If that sounds exciting to you, well, it wasn't really... so far.

Last night I got into the park fairly late, and began getting moved in to my apartment. It's still a mess, but once I'm settled in I'll post some pictures of what it's like. 

Today was a lot of orientation, meeting a ton of (really awesome) park staff, and getting 

reacquainted

 with Gatlinburg, TN. 

I had a great country cooking lunch of 

chicken fried steak and was taught some great shortcuts around town (which I promptly forgot and got lost when I attempted to take them on my own afterwards). I've also already joined an official park staff team for trivia at a local brewery. We didn't win, but it's nice to get to know some folks.

Everyone at the park seems really grateful to have me, and I get the feeling they have enough projects they want done to keep me busy for the next five months. But, unfortunately, I'll only be here for five weeks. Still, the potential for what I can accomplish while I'm here is incredible, and I can't wait to get to work.

Tomorrow I'll be taking a "field trip" with park staff and a park historian whose brain I'll be picking all day. Thursday I have an appointment with the park librarian who manages the archives. Saturday I may already be shooting some official content for the park. Hopefully I'll be able to fit a hike or two some where in there. We'll see.

I hate to cut this short with no real photo or video content, but I'm currently sitting in my car in the parking lot of park headquarters at 11pm. Why? Because that's the only place I can get wifi. It probably looks even creepier than it sounds.

Before I go, I just want to say thanks to two great companies that are helping to feed me while I'm in the Smokies. I sent out requests looking for donations from some organic brand food companies. I expected absolutely nothing to come of it, but I actually got a few positive responses!

So I owe a big thanks to

Lundberg Family Farms

 for sending me a whole box full of rice products...

...and

Annie's Homegrown

for a big stack of bunny coupons that I've already started to use.

I really can't thank them enough for helping to keep me from becoming a "starving artist" and... I guess this makes me officially sponsored!

That's all for today! Hopefully I'll have some good photos and maybe even some video content to share with you!

And this goes without saying, but if you don't know me and/or have any questions about anything, feel free to get in touch with me. I promise I'll get back to you ASAIHW (as soon as I have wifi).

Coolest thing I did today:

Became officially certified to drive a government vehicle.

Most important thing I learned today:

When living in park housing, it's important to be careful while opening your front door, or else you may end up with the biggest daddy long-legs in the world falling on your head.