Scenic Drive, Cade’s Cove, and Good Eatin’

Greetings from another morning at the Smoky Bear Campground!  I’m the only one up yet today.  I woke up at about 6:50 and tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to pee but it wasn’t working, so I went ahead and got up and showered and everything.  They’ve got a really clean bath house, and every time I’ve been up there to shower, I’ve been all by myself, so that’s nice.  Anyway, on to yesterday’s events:

We ate breakfast at Flapjacks (no photo, sorry…the seating was extremely awkward and the four women next to us didn’t seem too thrilled to be in such close quarters as we did, so I didn’t want to totally weird them out by taking pictures of my food).  I had the “Healthy Egg Breakfast,” which was two Egg Beaters, two multigrain pancakes, and a banana.  The banana was still green and tart (my favorite!)…but it was amusing that even the healthy breakfast came with this HUGE glob of butter on the side.  I took a tiny bit for my pancakes and then did my best to move everything on my plate as far away from it as possible.  They had good coffee, though.

After a detour to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center to get some info (I also met this woman in the gift shop whose ring tone was the theme to The Golden Girls.  Totally awesome.  She said that there are four of them and each of them kind of reminds the others of one of the characters and they all have the same ringtone.  What a trip), we hit the road for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to visit Cade’s Cove, where there was a scenic drive with lots of spots to stop.  Here’s a shot from the first overlook:

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We also stopped along the river and the boys and Shannon climbed out on some rocks to get pics of the waterfall, but I was too afraid to navigate the rocks in my Adidas flops, so I stayed at the top and watched them. 

The Scenic Loop at Cade’s Cove is 11 miles and it’s only 20 MPH all the way through.  There are also ten or so sites to stop at that, I’m sure if we’d gotten the booklet at their welcome center, would have had great historical significance.  The boys got more shots, but I got this one of an ooooold cabin.  See the little bird’s nest up in the corner of the window?  The whole place was empty, but you could walk through all the rooms and see how they lived.  The fireplace had been ripped out, but you could see where it was.  Pretty amazing.  We also stopped at several old churches and cemeteries. 

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We saw a coyote, four bears, TONS of wild turkeys, and lots of deer, too.  Joey got some pics of the coyote and deer, and James hung out the window and got lots of pics, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share once we get them all downloaded.

This is James and Shannon out on the rocks…Wordpress put the pics out of order and is being pissy right now, so excuse the out-of-order stories;).  There were lots of people tubing in the river, which we never could make sense of since there are so many really shallow and rocky spots.   There were also LOTS of women who felt the need to show loooots of flesh.

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This was another shot from the overlook.  Beautiful view!

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It POURED on us during the last part of the ride, so bad that we really couldn’t see much, so we headed back to the camper to make “lunch” (in quotes because we didn’t eat lunch until 5 and dinner until 10).  James grilled chicken thighs, Joey did diced potatoes in the skillet, and Shannon warmed some green beans (and I did the dishes afterward, so don’t say I’m lazy, Mom;) ).  James did an AWESOME job on the chicken and Joey on the potatoes as well…added a little BBQ sauce and we were in heaven.  No pic.  I’m growing very forgetful here on this trip about food pics, although I’m hoping it’s a sign of my relaxation.

Dinner was also pic-less, but not for lack of want.  See below:

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:).  Love campfire.  I roasted a Hebrew National hotdog over the fire until it was well-charred (like, I couldn’t really tell if it was done or not anyway because it was dark and Shannon finally said, “Melanie, the end is pretty black…”).  I had it with a few BBQ chips.  We sat out by the fire until 1 in the morning, and then hit the sack.

This is the best kind of vacation ever.  There’s really not much to do, we haven’t spent a ton of money (although horseback riding was a little expensive, but well worth it).  It’s also so wonderful to have friends with whom we can be totally ourselves, without having to be “on” all of the time.  If we talk, that’s great, but if we don’t, and we just sit in the car together or sit by the fire together, that’s great, too.  It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a chance to do this and just let things go.  Everyone needs this…we make our lives so busy, both intentionally (to mute our thoughts) and unintentionally (to try to please everyone around us).  We’re doing ourselves in.  The slower lifestyle is definitely the healthier one, and I’m going to take that to heart from now on.  My lifesyle has been unsustainable these past few years, and I’m going to stop that.

Well, I don’t know what’s on for today, but you can be sure I’ll photograph it and blog it tomorrow:). And a hummingbird just flew by as I was typing this….too bad I didn’t have any sugar water.  She was brave…probably would have landed on the table if I’d had it.  Good day, folks:).

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