Crawling around Cades Cove

We had a lazy morning and set out quite late. I had wanted to go to Cades Cove  since we first visited the Smokies – so we decided to go there and set out for a walk from there up to Gregory Bald.  We stopped at the visitor centre for a little light shopping and fact finding – then set off on the ONE WAY – DEAD END loop road through Cades Cove. Once you were on it – there was one escape road which cut through to the other side of the loop.

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The atmosphere in the car was still peaceful and happy when we stopped to look at this log cabin.

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Nice porch.

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Proper snake rail fencing!

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And a happy woman skipping back to the car without a care in the world!

We then got back into the car and joined a queue of cars crawling along the road. Every so often we came to a dead stop when someone at the front of the queue saw a particularly fascinating blade of grass – or a leaf fell from a tree – and then the procession would chug along a little further. It was a bit like being in a funeral cortege – but one where the undertaker was screaming at the mourners. Phil was not happy.

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We eventually got to the end of the valley – where several other buildings had been re-erected – I am not sure what had been there originally.

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The watermill was working and grinding corn – to see the hard work it took just to get the water to the wheel certainly made me respect the early settlers.

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We drove up to the start of the Gregory Ridge trail, after being told that the loop to Cades Cove was locked up at 19:00 hours.

It was quite a  contrast between the nose to tail procession along the  loop road and the peace and quiet of the trail. The pictures speak for themselves!

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Because we had been told we needed to be out of Cades Cove by 19:00 – we didn’t get to the top  – just to this view of the wooded hills opposite. As we headed back down we were a little concerned to see this sign telling us we couldn’t get out!  We ignored it and carried on.

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Got back to the Cove – and found out that we had Been Lied To!! Loads of cars still in the car park – and the rural representation of the M25 in rush hour was in full swing.  We edged our way out of the cove watching the petrol tank getting closer and closer to empty – and with Phil giving a good impression of someone close to a mental breakdown.

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We eventually got out of the cove with about a cupful of petrol and found a petrol station at the bottom of the hill – which promptly refused our credit card. Luckily I had one twenty dollar bill left – so we weren’t stranded.  We drove back over the mountain road – and stopped to look at the view of Gatlinburg from the heights.

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Chattanooga – and on to Gatlinburg

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Had to take a picture of the beautifully arranged toiletries.  We set out to go to Gatlinburg – and went round by Chattanooga as we were meeting one of my internet friends for lunch.

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Unfortunately this was not at the Jack Daniels distillery!

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We made a bit of a detour across the Atlantic and around the Pennines to wave to Manchester.

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Quite an interesting idea having the escape route for lorries on the left – so that careering out of control lorries would have to cross over all lanes to get to it.

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Just to prove that Chattanooga is really in the Midlands.

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We met up with Phil the internet at a Krystal restaurant and had hamburger and good conversation. Like a complete div I took no pictures – so the devastatingly handsome young man will have to remain a figment of your imaginations.

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We veered off the interstate and took the backroads – Phil was worried about travelling through Knoxville in the rush hour.

We found a really good walking/cycling shop where I replaced my trousers and bought a daft hat.

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It was a beautiful route – although very, very twisty in parts!

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Then we got to the hills near to Gatlinburg – and they are beautiful.

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We got to Gatlinburg just as the sun was setting – this was the view from our balcony. I thought I had booked one of the houses – having asked for a ‘town house’ – but according to Bluegreen ‘town houses’ are flats. It is lovely though!

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Even down to the pretty little arrangement on the spare toilet roll!

Nashville

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We set out this morning for Nashville (secretly does little dance of excitement)  Took a last look at Table Rock Lake and then headed cross country on the back roads.

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I love the town names – as well as Yellville, we passed signs for Pocahontas,  Gassville, and the delightfully named Flippin.

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Small flags are not an option.

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We thought this plane was coming in to land – then saw it swoop down over and over again – it was crop spraying.

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For a while we went back into Missouri – and then – and then ..

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We came to the bridge over the Mississipi!

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A brief, tantalising glimpse –

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and we were in Tennessee.

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More great place names – and another river

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Then Nashville was on the road signs!

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Just for a change we stayed at a Holiday Inn - 

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– with a fine view of the car park and sunset.

We set out to find the next Elvis – no – that was Memphis wasn’t it.  It was a long, long way to downtown Nashville.

Eventually we came to the bright lights.

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Just a memory of a time when Nashville was a real town – and not just bars and – er – bars.

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We walked right down to the river, looking for a bar that had been recommended on Trip Advisor – and had just started to get a bit ratty with each other (it was ten o’clock at night, we hadn’t found Elvis – and I was HUNGRY!!!) Luckily a Policeman on a motorbike was parked across the pavement – and after boasting for a while about how much ammunition he had stored in his garden shed – he pointed us towards Roberts Western Bar.

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Which was GREAT!! Not quite Elvis –(and, having seen him in Branson, we are experts)  but  a very good band, reasonably priced beer and tasty hamburger.

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The dancing was good – although we didn’t join in!

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Possibly had one too many of the reasonably priced beers – or – more likely – was so tired after the three mile trip into town – that while walking back to the hotel I fell flat on my face. No change there – but instead of the usual Kelly doll bounce – I ripped both my trousers and my knee. Whoops!

Finally – a walk!

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The balcony at the apartment was surrounded in bug netting – which – considering the size of this bug – was a Good Thing.

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We decided to go back to Table Rock reservoir to ask the Park Rangers there if they knew of any proper walks.  I would not like to be in Branson if this dam ever breaks!

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Phil standing at the edge of the reservoir – this must have been a cliff edge as you can see clearly where the water just drops away.

We found a leaflet which listed a couple of walks from a nature reserve  a few miles away.

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Which looked dangerous once we got there!

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Although, again, it had nice tarmac.

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Phil went up to the top of the very rickety observation tower and saw lots of things.

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I kept my feet on the ground! Then we walked back and to the other end of the car park – and found a trail which was long and unpaved! At last!

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It led to a homestead trail – where there had once been a thriving community. All that was left were a couple of wells.

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This had been the site of a store up until the 1920’s – no sign of anything now.

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I have a leaflet – I am happy. It was frustrating though as although it told you who had lived there, it didn’t say why they had left.

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There was a small wall though – so Phil was happy too!

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Me, cautiously picking my way down hill,

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and striding up hill.

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Ten miles later – back in the car park look out. We met two couples there – one of the women asked how far we had walked – when we told her she said that she would live vicariously through our walk – Phil was most impressed by the use of the word vicariously!

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Back to Branson with it’s amusingly named restaurants,

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Ripleys Believe it or not

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and the Titanic museum. (Which had a special exhibit on ‘the dogs of the titanic’- complete with live dogs. )

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Then we went to see the above – it was really good! (She says in a surprised tone) A rather elderly Buddy Holly, the Blues Brothers, Whitney Houston, Tim Mcgraw (I had never heard of him either – but he is a country singer) and Elvis.

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Tim Mcgraw and a Blues brother came out to sign autographs at the break. Best day in  Branson!