Sunday, August 8, 2021
Sunday, August 8, 2021
I 81 at this point is a flatter, straighter road, and on Sunday morning there wasn’t so much traffic. 81 turns into I40, and we headed southeast, then onto Rt. 66 south. This took us through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. Both of these were crowded with some interesting places, every kind of eating place you can imagine, and lots of crowded pancake houses. Maybe the coolest thing was a small track ride, somewhere between a train ride and a roller coaster up and around the mountain. All-in-all it was just too many people and craziness for me. I wondered if Dolly Parton regretted starting Dollywood here. She wanted to bring jobs to the economy in the mountains, and she sure did it, but it brought a lot more to this beautiful land.
We turned left in the small town of Townsend and wound our way through the mountains into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the only national park that doesn’t require an entrance fee. Then a right on Laurel Creek road to Cades Cove Campground. Checking in, we were told there is a bear problem in the campground, so all food and drink needs to be cleaned up and stored inside. You can’t even leave a cooler out. All cooking grills, stoves and utensils have to be stored in your vehicle. I certainly understand the problem. If a bear continues to come into the campground, it will have to be killed.
It takes a while to get set up. We were packed so tightly, there was little room left in the truck. I thought I would be able to take out the cooking stove, grill and oven and leave them out, thus opening up room to transfer thing to the truck bed, but now that plan had changed. We leveled the trailer, opened the windows, put out the awnings, took the bikes out and unpacked our gear from the truck – bike helmets, backpacks and camera gear.Diego gave us a hammock two years ago, but never put up. With two perfectly-spaced trees, we put it up, and it would prove an instant hit.
I have had a one-man tent for a long time, but never set it up. We spent an hour trying to figure it out before giving it up. In five minutes we had the two-man tent set up. I put the sleeping bag in it, blew up the air mattress and put a sheet in for the warm nights. Martha put the table cloth on the picnic table, got the chairs out and sorted the meal plans before the kids came. Finally we sat down at 3:30 and shared a glass of wine. Karen, Nathan and the kids arrived at 4:00. We had a nice chat before they headed back to Fort Mill, SC, a 4.5 hr drive. Josh was not so sure he wanted wanted to stay, and some tears were shed. Oh dear!
We built a fire and roasted hot dogs over it. Baked beans and coleslaw completed the first night’s meal. Then we decided to take the “Loop Drive” through Cades Cove and see if we could spot some wildlife. It is a beautiful, 11-mile drive on a one-lane, one-way curvy road. It was busy with cars, but with many pull-overs it works fine. We saw lots of deer, but the highlight was a young coyote that trotted in the field, down the long row of cars, checking everyone out. It was only 10 feet away from us. Here is a good article on the differences between foxes and coyotes: https://forfoxsakewildlife.com/2018/12/21/red-fox-grey-fox-or-coyote/
This was once a thriving community, much live Burk’s Garden before the park bought them out and had them move. Old cabins, houses, barns, churches and other structures remain. It was a remote place in the late 1800’s.
It didn’t take me long to crawl into the tent and fall asleep.