Holy Smokies

Gatlinburg Travel Blog

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Beautiful Cades Cove Picnic Area.

We spent a lovely day in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  What a beautiful place.  It is so green and lush, with tall hemlock trees and gurgling creeks.  The park is known for its black bears, but we were not lucky enough to see one.

 

We started our day with a drive back through Pigeon Forge.  It was even uglier today than yesterday.  I wanted to take a photograph of all the tourist “attractions” and the incredible number of pancake houses.  My gosh!  Is that all they eat around here?  After a stop at a grocery store to pick up some picnic delights, we returned on the same road we drove yesterday to the community of Townsend.

"Sam & Mira" visit Cades Cove
  Jag wanted to visit the store run by the Smoky Mountain Carvers.  This place not only has carving tools and supplies, they also teach classes.  He had a great time inside and I bought a lovely wood vase made up of different kinds of wood with gorgeous patterns and a shine like silk.  It was only $85, a true bargain.  It would have cost considerably more than that at home.

 

We went on into the national park to visit the area known as Cades Cove.  We enjoyed our picnic at the main picnic area, then went on the loop drive through the cove, a local name for a valley.  It is so beautiful and bucolic.  In the distance we saw a flock of wild turkeys.  They seemed to be larger than those I have seen in California.  There were horses grazing in one of the fields and it was absolutely wonderful.

Wild turkeys at Cades Cove.
  The road is narrow and one-way.  The speed limit is 20 mph, but many very thoughtless people drive at only half that speed.  They seem to be oblivious to those lined up behind them.  I realize they want to see the mountains and forests and, hopefully, some wildlife.  But jeeze!  Pull over into the frequent passing areas and let those who want to drive the limit do so. 

 

Cades Cove was first settled by Europeans in 1821.  I do not remember whether I read that the Cherokee Nation only visited the cove or whether they may have had a permanent settlement.  At its peak, Cades Cove had a population of 800 people.  The last of the settlers was gone by the mid-1940’s.  Their farm buildings are still standing, for the most part.  They have, apparently, been stabilized • not reconstructed.

Mama dear and her fawn
  We stopped to visit two of these homesteads: those of a Mr. John Oliver and his eldest son, Elijah.  The houses were very different, with John’s being quite tiny.  I don’t know how they existed in such close quarters.  Most of those families had quite a few children, many of whom did not survive past infancy. 

 

The drive around Cades Cove was wonderful.  The road takes you from open areas with great views of the ancient Smoky Mountains to deep forests with so many shades of green as to be like faceted emeralds.  Although there are many animals living in the area, we were lucky enough to only see one white-tailed deer and her fawn.  We were walking to the John Oliver Place and there they were.  We stopped so as to not disturb them.  They finally crossed the pathway.

The John Oliver Place in Cades Cove
  Shortly thereafter, one of the other visitors showed us that the doe actually had a pair of twins, very common amongst deer.  They are so beautiful and not too afraid of humans. 

 

The return drive to Gatlinburg took us along the old Little River Road, along its namesake waterway.  It reminded Jag and me of the gorge of the Merced River along Highway 140 leading into Yosemite National Park from Merced.  The gorge is much deeper and wider, but the Little River is equally beautiful.  There are dark granite cliffs in many places, although not as high as in Yosemite. 

 

The Smoky Mountains are very obviously older than, say, the Sierras in California.

The Dan Lawson Place, Cades Cove
  They are gently rounded and covered with forests of mixed pine and hardwood trees.  The Sierras and Rockies are jagged having not been subjected to the forces of erosion for very long, compared to the mountain ranges of the Eastern part of this country.  They are equally beautiful, just different.

 

Dinner tonight was okay.  We went to an Italian restaurant that also serves Greek food.  There was a beautiful photo mural on one wall of the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea.  It made me wish to be there, but this was as close as I will get for a long time.  The food was good, but not great.  The service, however, was good.  Our waiter made a mistake with my dinner request, but he was so nice I did not correct him.  The restaurant, here in Gatlinburg, is called Guaroni’s.  It is far from the garish downtown, which made it especially nice.

 

We leave tomorrow morning for Asheville to attend Jeff and Meg’s wedding.  That will be a lot of fun.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed for good weather.  We lucked out today: it was supposed to rain, but we had a sunny (and humid) day.

 

jdale3568 says:
We always see bears at Cades Cove.
Posted on: Oct 16, 2014
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Beautiful Cades Cove Picnic Area.
Beautiful Cades Cove Picnic Area.
Sam & Mira visit Cades Cove
"Sam & Mira" visit Cades Cove
Wild turkeys at Cades Cove.
Wild turkeys at Cades Cove.
Mama dear and her fawn
Mama dear and her fawn
The John Oliver Place in Cades Cove
The John Oliver Place in Cades Cove
The Dan Lawson Place, Cades Cove
The Dan Lawson Place, Cades Cove
Roz relaxes at picnic table at Cad…
Roz relaxes at picnic table at Ca…
Not much water in the creek.
Not much water in the creek.
Fields and Mountains, Cades Cove
Fields and Mountains, Cades Cove
Ranger explains the life of settle…
Ranger explains the life of settl…
View from the window of the John O…
View from the window of the John …
Mountains and meadows
Mountains and meadows
Methodist church of Cades Cove (no…
Methodist church of Cades Cove (n…
Springhouse at the Elijah Oliver P…
Springhouse at the Elijah Oliver …
The Elijah Oliver Place
The Elijah Oliver Place
Gatlinburg
photo by: vulindlela