Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Playing Tour Guide

One of the big advantages of having a stick and brick home over our small RV is the extra bedroom for guests.  Since moving to Maryville, my folks have come for a weekend visit as well as Jack, Ansley, and Kayley. This past weekend, we’ve been hosts to Gene’s brother, Doug, and his wife, Cheryl. We haven’t seen them since last fall when we parked in their driveway on our way home from Alaska.  It is such a thrill for us to have family (and friends) in our home.

Doug and Cheryl arrived Sunday afternoon just shortly before the rain moved in.  But, we weren’t going to let a little rain get in our way.  Monday morning, bright and early (well, not so bright with all the clouds), we loaded in the car for a tour of Maryville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, the northwest side of the National Park, and Townsend.

With the rather frequent downpours, we didn’t spend much time shopping in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.  We decided on the Old Mill area of Pigeon Forge and concentrated our efforts there, especially in the stop that sells locally made pottery.  The rain really began in earnest by the time we got to Gatlinburg so we window shopped from the seat of the car.  Of course, a trip to Gatlinburg is almost not complete without a little taste of freshly made fudge.  That served to satisfy our sweet tooth for the rest of the day.

Inside the National Park, our focus was on finding a bear.  I’m always on the lookout for a bear, but Cheryl was especially anxious to see one since she has never seen a bear in the wild.  We drove through the main entrance then past the Sugarlands Visitor Center. We opted to have our visitor center experience at Cades Cove.

The twenty-five mile drive from Sugarlands to Cades Cove along Laurel Creek Road is a low-elevation drive and doesn’t offer many viewpoints.  Fortunately for us, the rain let up just as we got to the cluster of pull-outs that do offer a view just before reaching the Laurel Falls trailhead parking.  The rain had let up, but the clouds were still there to obscure our view of the higher peaks.

The eleven-mile Cades Cove Loop Road is typically slow-moving, bumper-to-bumper traffic.  Monday, partly because of the rain and partly because we’re between leaf season and summer vacations, there were very few cars on the road.  We took it nice and slow, straining to see that elusive bear.  At the back of the Loop Road, we stopped in the Visitor Center for a few minutes before continuing on.  We got pretty wet, even with umbrellas, dashing back and forth to the car.  On our way around the Cove we slowed down to take a look out the window and between the rain drops at the historic cabins.  At one point, I thought for sure we’d found the bear, but it turned out to be a turkey.  He was sorta folded in on himself creating a black lump.  Guess he was tired of the rain, too.

We made our way through Townsend and finally back to the house.  We were glad to get inside where we could stretch our legs without getting soaked to the bone.

We spent most of our time inside the car for our 100-mile drive Monday, but we’re not complaining.  As far as I’m concerned, there are no bad days in the Smokies.  Besides, being in the car almost all day gave us just that much more time to visit with each other.  That’s what it was all about anyway.

Gene and I want to welcome our latest follower, gmaburka.  Glad you’re tagging along with us.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

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