The Quiet Side of the Smokies

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Acknowledgement – this photo is not ours! It comes from a Fotopedia app on National Parks which I highly recommend. We could never have taken anything as good as this. It shows Clingmans Dome which we did visit yesterday but it was too hazy for photographs.

Anyway, we are now on our second night in Tennessee, and the title of this post is a slogan they use here to promote this side of the Smokies. Having driven through Cherokee in North Carolina yesterday, with it’s sideshows and casinos, I can see what they mean. However, we did scorn Gatlinburg as a place to stay because it looked rather tacky so there are gaudy spots on both sides. We’ve ended up in Townsend which is one of those towns that just sprawls along a big highway with no real centre (or we’ve not found it anyway). The hotel was carefully chosen to be opposite some restaurants – we are allergic to taking the car to dinner because it means no beer or wine – but what we failed to take into account is that we are here on a Sunday when a lot of places either don’t open or close early.

Last night (Saturday) was great. We crossed the road (a five lane highway, gulp) to Lily’s Cafe which was just a few hundred yards away. The place was excellent, good veggie choices, good wine and pleasant staff. Just before we were leaving, a thunderstorm blew up and showed no signs of abating and when our waiter found out we had walked he insisted on driving us back over the road. I don’t think you can beat that for service! Tonight (Sunday) we were less lucky. Lily’s was closed so we went to one of the other nearby restaurants which was ok for John but the veggie option was an assortment of four “sides” which was fine but only just.

Today, we visited Cade’s Cove. This is a valley in the Smokies where a lot of 19th century buildings have survived, homes and churches such as these:

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It certainly gives you an idea of how hard their lives were. The church is the Methodist one (there were two Baptist Churches nearby, resulting from a fall-out.) The two doors would normally indicate that men and women entered and sat on different sides. Apparently, that wasn’t the case here, they just borrowed the building plans from another church.

We saw loads of deer in Cade’s Cove, including this mother and fawn, a bear and her cub at a safe distance (you can’t see the cub here and you’ll more or less have to take my word for it that it’s a bear) and, on our way back from a hike to a pretty waterfall, a rattlesnake. It slithered across the path in front of us but we weren’t quick enough to get a picture.

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Tomorrow, we are retracing our steps back over the border into North Carolina.

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