Gatlinburg and Cade's Cove

Trip Start Sep 26, 2011
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Leaving “The Hermitage”, Andrew Jackson’s plantation, we headed towards Smoky Mountain National Park, via the Foothill Parkway. The Foothill Parkway was about thrrty miles long on the northern front of the Appalachians. The fall colors were spectacular and the road was curvy and entertaining. The only traffic we encountered was a convoy of Model A Fords. There must have been thirty that we followed into the Smoky Mountain National Park. As you enter the park, you reach an intersection where you can go left or right, the model a’s turned left and we went right towards Cades Cove.

Nearly everything closes down at the end of October in most of national parks and parkways. Luckily, Smoky Mountain National Park keeps two campgrounds open year round, one of which is Cades Cove. We pulled into the campsite at dusk having negotiated the small two lane road into the mountain hollow. The road closely follows the path of a small stream exiting the remote valley, blind hairpin turns around cliff faces come fairly regularly and the sporadic traffic keeps you in your lane. Makes you glad to turn off the engine….

Cades Cove was settled by mountain pioneers in the early 1800’s. Because of the location and difficulty in reaching the area, the lifestyle was unaffected by changes from the outside world until the park was developed. All of the families have moved away, but many of the original structures have been maintained for historical purposes. Grinding wheels still turn, powered by the power of water from the passing stream. Cattle still graze under the watch of the blue mountains rising around the valley. There is a scenic loop around the valley that takes you to various homesteads and sites where artisans demonstrate the crafts necessary to survive in such a remote setting. It gives you a feel for the early life in the Appalachian mountains.

When we were visiting the Cove, we witnessed a "controlled burn".  The local fire department was burning off dead grass in the pasture next to the exhibits.  Made for a real "Smoky Mountain" experience.  There were dozens of yellow coated firefighters, a pump truck and atvs at the ready.  Finally they started setting the fire using hand pumped fire starters that spewed out little bits of flame.  Circling the field from up wind, it was no time at all before it was burned off and they sprayed it down with the pump truck to finish it off.  Don't see that every day.....

Leaving Cades Cove, we exit the Park and head into Gatlinburg. It was time to visit civilization for a little internet access and household chores. Gtlinburg has long been a tourist mecca.  For a fairly small town it is packed with with tourist shops and restaurants, most of which were closed for the off season.  Lunch at a local Brewhouse netted some good information on using the local library for internet, free!

After doing some on line business, we found an rv park in a little cove outside of town.  This was the best maintained rv park we had visited, landscaped perfectly, with all of the thanksgiving decorations just so.  The bathhouses were pristine and well appointed.  The manager came by and we asked how new it was "Thirty years old, but we try to keep it up."  Just goes to show, maintain something and it will sparkle forever.

The next morning we plan to head for the Blue Ridge Parkway. 
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