Saturday, April 20,
9:00 a.m. found us floating down the road for our next adventure – rain, lots of high water, and temperatures in the low 40’s! Evidently our destination (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) was experiencing the same wet/cold front as we heard reports of flash floods in Elkmont Campground, and high water in our destination of Cades Cove. Our plan was to stop at the Tennessee border at Indian Mountain State Park, and head on into Cades Cove the next day – when temperatures were to climb to the 70’s, and the rain was to disappear!
In no particular hurry we pulled into Indian Mountain State Park campground at 3:30, and were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful small lake surrounded with campsites sporting full concrete pads and trees in full buds of spring green. We didn’t unhook, and other than these pictures by our campsite, we didn’t explore any more of the State Park! But, Tom did walk the pups around the lake!
Sunday, April 21
Easter Sunday – He is Risen!
With under 150 miles to drive from Jellico to Cades Cove we were off by 8:00. It was still a bit overcast, but predictions were for a steady climb in temperatures and sunshine all day.
Passing through the “Y”, the turn-off for Cades Cove, and just 2 miles short of the cove we saw the cars in front of us slowing down. A lot! We immediately thought of three causes: road construction, a back-up of traffic around Cades Cove loop road . . . or a bear jam. In the rear-view mirror we saw people leaving their cars behind us to walk up the side of the road; one woman stopped and told us there was a bear with two cubs up ahead. After 45 minutes, we could see crowds of people on the side of the road with cameras . . . and more up in the woods. The mother bear had climbed high up a tree and the cubs were about 15’ below her in the same tree. I clicked all my pictures from the truck, and we were then able to resume normal speed, arriving in Cades Cove by 11:00.
This might be a good time to show you the new purse that I got especially for this trip to the Smoky's!
As Tom was checking in at the ranger station, Airstream pals Georgia and Rick came up announcing they were camped fairly close to us in “B” loop. We were aware that they were going to be here visiting family over Easter. After we got set up and ate a snack lunch, we walked over to say hello and visit for a while.
During the afternoon, long-time camping friends Ken and Bonnie (they camp in a new Casita) drove through the campground and recognized our rig. They are park volunteers, and on duty somewhere in the park every Sunday. They will also be attending the Spring Fling, arriving on Wednesday. Bonnie and I made a date to teach her how to make pine needle baskets!
Tom and I had a special Easter Dinner: grilled shrimp on the Barbie, foil-packet potatoes, fresh pineapple and a bottle of our favorite Portuguese Lancer’s Wine . . . that we have carried around with us for the last 8 months! We trekked over to Rick and Georgia’s campsite for an evening campfire, and as it got dark, groped our way back home.
Monday, April 22
It has been a long time since we have had hash and eggs cooked outside for breakfast, and that started our morning.
As we drove the road from Cades Cove to Gatlinburg after breakfast, Tom wondered how many times we have driven it in the past 41 years together? Not enough to ever get tired of it!
Our mission in Gatlinburg was to look for boots for Tom at our Nantahala supply store. He didn’t find what he was looking for . . . but I found two pair of earrings and a little puzzle-cut wooden bear! We walked the length of the town, finding it not too crowded on this Monday morning after Easter.
At the bear jam location the rangers were taking a do-not-disturb policy of marking off the sides of the road to prevent cars from pulling over and stopping. Even with this precaution people were parking and walking and a large group was gathered under the tree where the mom and two babies hung out.
During the afternoon I took a shower and Tom took a nap in the sunshine (75 degrees) in preparation for dinner in Townsend. At 3:00 we drove the 7 miles into Little Arrow Campground where sister Tink was all set up and hosting an RPod Pre-Rally, and where we would be joining her on Wednesday. She, along with several friends, drove into Townsend where we met brother Richard and his friend, Paula . . . 9 for dinner at the Trail Head Restaurant.
I didn't take very many pictures today!
Tuesday, April 23
We’ve done it all before . . . but we did it again anyway! We left the Cove with Rick and Georgia following and drove to the “Y” and on to Sugarlands. We continued up and up to Newfound Gap, and then down over the other side into North Carolina and the Oconaluftee area and Cherokee. We ventured onto Big Cove Road, and for the fourth time in a row (during the past 3 years) we found the Balsam Mountain Road still closed for winter! We opted for a beautiful drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Soco Gap and followed Route 19 back to Cherokee. We then backtracked to Newfound Gap, Sugarlands, and back to the Cove. 6 hours of glorious mountain scenery at the peak of spring.
That ends the first part of our spring trip to Tennessee. Tomorrow we would be heading 10 miles down the road to Townsend, where we would be joining Sister Johanna (Tink) for her annual Spring Fling! Check back for more about this rally!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown