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Prepping for the Great Smoky Mountains: Our next National Park Trip

It seems like just last month, the Ng Family returned from our Southwestern Adventure because…well…it was just last month! But for us to hit our goal of 100 National parks visited by 2020 we can’t take our foot off the gas!

The kids have an early release day on friday August 14th, so we decided to take a roadtrip west to tackle 4 more National Park sites including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Here’s our itinerary:

Friday August 14th

Carl Sandburg Home National Monument


Saturday August 15th

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Sunday August 16th

Cowpens National Battlefield


Kings Mountain National Military Park



Smoky vs Smokey

To me, every time I see the word “Smoky” I think it is incorrect. But there is actually a difference between the words “smoky” and “smokey” even though they are pronounced the same way. According to the Grammarist: “Smokey is a proper noun and first name, whereas smoky is an adjective referring to an object being filled with or smelling of smoke. Until recently smokey was an accepted spelling of smoky in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is now thought of as old-fashioned.”

Who is Carl Sandburg and why would we want to visit his home?

Carl Sandburg was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and author and (most notably to my Civil War obsessed 8 year old) the prize winning author of a biography on Abraham Lincoln. This farm was the place he lived his last 22 years of his life and the place where almost 1/3 of his work was produced. Plus there are dairy goats!

Prepping my camera gear

Next summer, my family will be spending 2 weeks in China and I have been using every trip leading up to it to try out new configurations of gear to bring. Last month I carried my Nikon D7000 and packed 2 Cinelenses (Rokinon 35mm 1.8T, Rokinon 10mm), a Tokina 11-26 f/2.8 still lens, and my GoPro Hero. I found that it was very cumbersome to change lenses and as a side result, I got a really bad case of sensor dust that was very difficult to clone out in video.That was super frustrating to me.
I also ended up using the video camera on my iPhone 6+ more than I thought and it was such great quality that I am considering only using my Nikon for still shots.

I have since cleaned my sensor using some really expensive (but totally worth it) camera sensor cleaners. As of now, I am planning on bringing my Tokina 11-26 f/2.8, my Nikkor 70-200mm VRII f/2.8, and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 prime for still shooting and using just my phone for video. Stay tuned for how well that works out!


43 down. 7 to go!

We are trying to get to our 50th National Park by the end of the year. We are currently sitting at 43 parks visited and this trip will bring us to 47. During Labor Day weekend we are planning on visiting 6 more on the eastern coast of Florida. Thanks for following me and my family as we embark on our next adventures!

Gregory Ng

GOAL: Visit 100 National Parks as a family by 2020. Favorite Parks: Zion National Park, Mt Rainier National Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park

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