Friday, May 28, 2021

Chattanooga/Smoky Mountain Trip Day 7


This morning I woke at 6:00 am, eager to get to Cades Cove before the crowds.  It was chilly out, 45 degrees, so I quickly got dressed, made a cup of coffee, hastily brushed my teeth and took a coffee cup to go as I hit the road.  It was an hour drive to Cades Cove but it was a beautiful morning, quiet and green, with no rain in sight.  

I pulled into the parking lot at 7:45 and was happy to see only one other car at the first stop.  Cades Cove is a collection of historic houses, churches and buildings scattered in 15 groups around an 11 mile loop.   

Love this headstone - read it!

It was great fun to pull up and explore the different buildings.   Some were quite close to the road and others required a hike of several blocks to get to them.    My favorite was the Elijah Oliver place because I had to hike 5 blocks to get to it.  

I spotted 2 deer eating outside one of the barns.   They peered cautiously at me for a few moments before turning and disappearing into the woods behind them. 

  After 2 hours of exploring it was beginning to get crowded with cars and I had to make a decision – either forgo the rest of the buildings so I could hike the Abrams Falls Trail, or skip the trail and continue exploring the houses.   I finally decided to continue on with the buildings because the Cable Mill was coming up and that’s one I particularly wanted to see and it did not disappoint.   

It was actually my favorite stop on the tour, with plenty of buildings to poke around in and the visitor center was there as well.  

I popped inside the Visitors Center and purchased a couple more patches for my jacket and headed back to the car.  When I pulled out onto the loop I was dismayed to see that traffic was now bumper to bumper and moving at a snails pace of 7 miles per hour.  I turned off to check out one more house and then decided to call it quits.   It was just too crowded.   I snaked around the remainder of the loop and finally reached the exit and pointed my car towards Gatlinburg.  

My stomach was rumbling and it was almost noon so I munched on a Cliff Bar until I found parking in Gatlinburg and headed up the strip in search of something to eat.  I quickly decided on a Nathan’s hot dog with home made chips.  

I didn’t really feel like doing any shopping so I decided to try a Geocaching Adventure Lab to kill some time.  Adventure Labs are new and popping up all over the place.  They are very similar to Geocaching except that instead of having to find a container of some sort and signing a logbook, Adventure Labs take you to different locations and you have to get information and answer a question.  I pulled one up on my phone and was soon headed off in multiple directions throughout Gatlinburg, learning some history about the town and answering questions.  I ended up going to five different locations and ended up in a cemetery where I correctly answered the final question and got credit for my first complete adventure lab.  Here's some of the locations I had to visit..

It was quite fun and I rewarded myself with a raspberry Donut from the Donut Friar as well as a cinnamon donut to save for breakfast in the morning.   By then I was hot and tired so I headed back to the campground where I spent the rest of the evening laying on the cot in my tent and reading “Gone with the Wind.”   Altogether a very nice day.

Next up - my final day in the Smoky Mountains and a hike to the famous "Grotto Falls."

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Equipment I use:

Jackery 240

JEGS Rooftop  Carrier

Jetboil Sumo cooking system

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Chattanooga/Smoky Mountain Trip Day 6


Day 6 Thursday

(Me on top of Clingmans Dome)

How can it possibly be SIX days already?  Time is going by way too quickly.  I got up at 6:15 am  and was so happy to see that it wasn’t raining out, although the weather had gotten a lot colder.  I pulled out some long underwear and my heavy jacket, fixed a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and hit the road by 7:00 am.    Today was the day I was most looking forward to – Clingman’s Dome!!  The views along the way were stunning...

Climbing to the top of Clingman’s Dome has been a years long goal of mine.  One mile away from the Clingman’s Dome turn off,  traffic came to a dead stop.   They were starting road construction and they had closed everything down to one lane.  So they would let 30 cars go one way and when they got thru to the other side they closed it and let 30 or so cars go thru from the other direction.  I sat there for about 20 minutes  and then finally got thru.  By the time I got to the parking lot there were already quite a few cars there.  I grabbed my hiking stick, water bottle and back pack and eagerly started up.   

I’ve been walking on my treadmill at home for the past couple months at a 12% incline in anticipation of this hike.  The grade here is said to be 13% and believe me, it’s every bit of that.   I was mildly surprised that I had to stop 4 times on the way up to catch my breath.  It was a lot more difficult that I anticipated.   It took me almost 30 minutes to make it to the top but it was worth every minute of huffing and puffing along that climb!!  

When I got there and looked out over the mountains I burst into tears.  My husband passed away last year and I realized that this was the closest I was going to be to him and Heaven until the day I died.   I was just overcome with emotion.   It was such a bittersweet journey to this moment and it was such an accomplishment for me to be here after everything I’ve dealt with over the past year.  I started snapping photos and talking to some of the other people up there and it was just so beautiful!  I stayed up there for about 15 minutes just enjoying the views. 

   When I headed back down I spied the spot where the Appalachian Trail crosses the trail so I ducked down it for about a block, just to experience it.  

Then I turned around and headed back to the now full parking lot.   I passed dozens of people headed up while I was on my way down.  I was sure glad I had gotten there so early.  Word of warning:  My car remotes didn't work in the mountains.   I got back to my car and kept pushing the button to pop open the locks and nothing was happening.  I admit I had a moment of panic until I remembered that there's a way to open the remote and there's a key hidden inside to open the door.  Check your remote before you go in case that's ever an issue for you.  I hopped back into my car and headed over to the Rockefeller Monument at NewFound Gap.   

The Appalachian Trail runs along there as well so I walked a couple blocks down that trail too.   I’ve always wanted to hike the full length of trail but at this late stage of my life I don’t see that happening. 

  When I went to leave I was stuck in another 20 minutes of construction traffic jam.  What a mess.  Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions now.   Since it was still early in the day I decided to drive up to Pigeon Force and go back to The Apple Barn for lunch.  Their apple fritters are just so darn good.  I had a fabulous lunch of Chicken Pot pie with the apple fritters on the side.  The waitress told me that they sold boxes of the fritter mix in the store so I made sure to pick up a box on my way out.   

By then it was mid afternoon so I took my mom’s advice and went to the Titanic Museum.   

That was SO interesting.   The outside of the building looks like the Titanic and inside was filled with wonderful displays and artifacts.  They even have a replica of the grand staircase and believe me, it was grand to walk up it.  People in period costumes were scattered about and in the room dedicated to the musicians they had a young man playing the piano and he was excellent.  I just stood and listened to him for the longest time and when he was done playing everyone gave him a huge round of applause.  At $ 30.00 per person it’s a little pricey, but so worth it.  The whole place is done up so well with great attention to detail.  I’m sorry but they don’t allow pictures so I only have this one photo of me standing at the Captain’s helm that I snuck in when no one was watching.  I'm a rebel!  LOL!!  I thoroughly enjoyed the tour.  

When you walk in they give you a card with a Titanic passengers name on it and at the end of the tour you can check to see if they survived the sinking or not.  My person was Caroline Brown and she survived!

After that I headed over to The Island in Pigeon Forge.  It’s a favorite spot of my sisters so I sat and watched the fountain show in the square and then walked around the stores for awhile.   

By then it was getting so crowded and I had enough of all the people so I headed back to my campsite.   I was happy to be there and just relaxed for the rest of the evening.   I bought a book about the Titanic so I sat and looked thru that for awhile and went to bed early.

Next up - Cades Cove!

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