Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day Six - On Top of the Smokies

June 12 - We spent almost the entire day in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, driving from Pigeon Forge to Cherokee, NC on the other side, with a side trip to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in Tennessee.

Kay wanted to eat a picnic lunch by a creek, but lacking the wherewithal to create a picnic, we stopped at Subway in Gatlinburg for sandwiches, chips and cookies. We were happy to find Subway open before 10 a.m.

Gatlinburg looked like Myrtle Beach in the mountains, with pancakes. We didn't do a study, but it looked like you could eat at a different pancake restaurant every day of the week.

Once we got into the park we wasted little time rolling out the food (continental breakfast at Vacation Lodge being a pretty barren event). Kay mentioned Cade's Cove (?), which turned out to be 24 miles away in a different direction than Cherokee. Instead, we chose The Chimneys, which Kay recognized as soon as she saw it. The girls ate their sandwiches on the rocks in the creek. I was happy to make my way down to creekside. I waited as long as I could, but finally had to make the trip up the hill to the restroom. The trip and the minibottle of wine with lunch left me a little groggy, but I persevered up the mountain to Clingman's Dome, the highest point above sea level in Tennessee.

There Kallie and Erin took the half-mile walk uphill to the observation tower, while Kay and I pulled out the folding chairs and sat at the overlook. Eventually I bailed out to the more comfortable car front seat and took a nap while we waited for the girls to come back from the top of the mountain.

From Clingman's Dome we continued on to Cherokee, NC, where our goal was to buy hamburgers and other supplies for a picnic supper back at The Chimneys. Cherokee has a lot more to offer, mostly regarding Native American culture, as the town is mostly occupied by the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I imagine, however, that the biggest draw is the Harrah's Cherokee Casino. We drove past it on the way to the Food Lion grocery store. We probably should have explored more, but Erin had been to Cherokee already and I was still tired and ready to eat and get back to the motel.

Our cookout went well. Kay made sure I could light the fire, buying both Match Light charcoal and giant starter-soaked matches that double as kindling. Not having any way to deal with leftovers, we just ate burgers and a little macaroni salad.

Sac got a little confused on the way back to Pigeon Forge...I'm not sure why given that we were on the Parkway almost the whole trip. But we find our way on our own. Back in town, the girls got their go-kart rides while I took it easy in the room, playing my online Scrabble games and downloading pictures from my camera.

Head over to for today's pictures. Don't know if I'll have time to add many here.

Tomorrow we ride more than 400 miles to Chester, VA to stay with the Wilsons. I worked with Allen back in Orangeburg. He and his wife Laura have two teenage boys. They all live in a big farmhouse with horses and a pool. We haven't seen them for quite awhile--maybe since we left Virginia in early 1994. (Kay reminds me that we did see them in Baton Rouge on a couple of occasions, most recently at a wedding in Allen's family--he grew up in Baton Rouge and went to LSU).

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