As with most National Parks there are plenty of driving and hiking trails, but only one can be the most visited National Park in the country – this one! We drove the Cades Cove loop, stopping to explore numerous historic buildings and beautiful vistas. This included the two room log house where Mr and Mrs Early Appalachian family (and their 18 kids, no kidding) lived about 150 years ago. They sure knew how to pick a location back then – the view from the house was spectacular.
Like all good National Parks several deer were munching in the field, while streams and waterfalls were plentiful. The Smoky's have two peak seasons – if that isn’t an oxymoron – Summer when everyone’s on break, and Fall/Autumn when the leaves on the trees turn spectacular colours. Thankfully we arrived at the end of the Fall colours and the Cade’s Cove road took only 2 hours not the 4 needed in the peak. We were very privileged to also watch a black bear feeding up close, chalk up our 9th sighting; and a stunning sunset while we straddled a mountain and the border of two states – Tennessee and North Carolina.
We wound our way down the mountain to Asheville, North Carolina to catch up with a Permaculture buddy, Mike and his family. Asheville is known as a liberal town full of artists and nature lovers. Whilst here, we enjoyed the lovely company of Mike, Moni and their girls, Claire and Aggie. We helped Mike fire up his homemade outdoor Cob oven, totally awesome, and introduced everyone to dessert pizza (yum!). This area is home to EarthHaven Ecovillage, we spent the afternoon there checking out their annual Useful Plants sale and learning about edible plants in public spaces. It was interesting. Mike and Moni are seriously motivated cooks and we ate delicious food all weekend, including homemade meat pies, and really enjoyed their company. We also ate out at a place called Salsas and the waiter refused to call Gaucamole Gaucamole, it IS Avocado Salsa!
Unfortunately space shuttles beckon us and we had to head out (we are driving to Florida to see the space shuttle launch, an 11 hour drive, wish we had a space shuttle right now). On the way to Florida we passed through Chapel Hill to catch up with Rob and Claire who we met way back at Crater Lake in Oregon. We hung out for a couple of hours at the local Co-op café/grocery store on a perfect day under a shady tree, enjoying good company, good food, and good weather. Now we just have to finish the gigantic drive and hope the Shuttle launches.
Love and Peace to you all, the smoky, Bek and Jesse Train
Get your fire blankets out things are getting Smoky! We headed for the hills and wound up in the mountains, the Smoky Mountains. A short-ish drive, only 2 1/2 hours from Chattanooga we arrived in the beautiful Smokys on an afternoon of perfect weather.