Anyhow, to make a long story longer, we drove a whopping 75 miles in 3 ½ hours. Squiggly, hilly turns the WHOLE way and I mean the “ENTIRE” whole way!! Mind you this is the NEW route...I can't imagine the original route. The scenery was beautiful, at least as much as we could see. We were so focused on the driving that we missed most of it. Sure glad we had the brakes fixed on the VAN or Nancy would have been Van Skiing down those roads and not driving. You know it was bad as Nancy has NO pictures of that section of the trip.
Leaving Table Rock SP - The Beginning of the Squiggles
(Click on any picture to enlarge)
A Level Spot for Breakfast -- The Middle of the Squiggles
First View of The Smokey Mountains -- The End of the Squiggles
After a nice stop in a FLAT parking lot for breakfast, we arrived at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at the southern entrance to The Smokey Mountain National Park. We purchased a “Starter Package” for $5.00 which gives you information on the trails, points of interest and things to do. I would highly recommend this purchase and it can be purchased online as well. Wish I had it before we got here. It would have saved Nancy a lot of research time.
Entering The Smokey Mountain National Park
New Visitor Center
Even though our legs were still a bit tired from yesterday’s hike or ‘mountain climb’ as Nancy calls it, we wanted to see Mingo Falls. It is just outside the park in Cherokee. So we parked the Van at the visitor’s center and drove the Tahoe back to Cherokee. We made a left on Big Cove Road and about mile past the KOA campground we made a right at the Mingo Falls sign. Not more than 7 miles total from the visitor center and well worth effort.
Returning to Cherokee
Big Cove Road -- The Trees made it!!
Creek Flowing from Mingo Falls
Steps to Mingo Falls
Trail to Mingo Falls
MINGO FALLS -- 180 feet high!!!
Our next stop was the Collins Creek Picnic Area for lunch.
Anglers walking along Collins Creek
Collins Creek Picnic Area
This is Tuna Salad -- Where's the Peanut Butter and Jelly ?!?!
Then on to Clingman’s Dome, to do the ½ mile hike to the observation tower. I’m guessing we could only see about 10-15 miles due to the low cloud cover. It is a fantastic view, but not one I could fully enjoy as my fear of heights always gets the best of me.
Click to Enlarge
Seven Mile Drive Up the Mountain to Clingman's Dome
Arrived at Parking Area of Clingman's Dome
View from the path as we hiked to the Tower!
We passed the Appalachian Trail which crosses Clingman's Dome
Approaching the Tower
View from the Tower. The dead trees are Fraser Firs
which are being killed by an insect over the last 30 years.
Back Down the trail to the Parking Area.
It was not an easy drive up and down this 7 mile steep grade.
This fellow above was cycling the distance and
the gentlemen below was walking the distance with full backpack!!
We stopped at the Sugarland (northern) Visitor Center, for a short visit. I had forgotten to get my NP Passport Stamped. So nice that there was another visitor center on our route!! We then headed to the RV Park in Sevierville. We took the bypass around Gatlinburg, but could not avoid the tourist traps of Pigeon Forge. The traffic was unbelievable…at least we are driving a little rig!! Nancy called it Myrtle Beach on steroids.
We checked in to River Plantation RV Park about 5pm. When we arrived at the site, we were promptly greeted by Howard and Linda Payne, our rally hosts. They told us a group of RV-Dreamers were going to a 50’s/60’s show and we were invited. Nancy politely declined as she was worn out. I, on the other hand, went with the group. The entertainment was pretty good…especially since the tickets were free. I also jumped into the fray and danced with Linda Payne and Linda Kendall as part of the audience participation segment. I guess I should be embarrassed by wearing a wig and dancing like a fool in from of 150 people. But, as usual, it doesn’t even faze me. Life is too short not to have a good time!!
Tomorrow will definitely be a chill day – after that who knows what?? One thing we know—we will have a good time!!