Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday, October 9 Following the Color Across the Great Smoky Mountains

The sky seems to be clearing with patches of blue appearing this morning. Last night the weather man said the sun should come out and burn off the mist so we take a chance and get back on the Parkway about 9AM heading to the Great Smoky Mountains and Newfound Gap. This section is the highest part of the road with a long stretch between 5000 and 5500 feet,

right along the ridge line....there are some spectacular views! The last part goes through the Cherokee Indian Reservation and was opened in the late 50's. There is also one of three Park Lodges, lovely Mt. Pisgah, with breath-taking views ...on clear days of course...in this section.

The sun does come out and for the next four hours we pass in and out of the clouds and fabulous fall foliage.

At times, it is like being in an airplane and looking down only to see a blanket of white with just the mountain peaks showing.

It is a great drive.

We get to the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center about 1PM and take a little break before climbing up and over the pass.

There are lots of leaf peepers out now. Traffic is a little heavy, but moving smoothly on the two lane road. The colors are wonderful, but at times it is hard to find a space at the overlooks.

Carolyn reminds Dick that as a kid, coming through here, traffic was bumper to bumper, stop and go, due to people stopping their cars in the road and rolling down their windows to feed the black bears! The park rangers finally got that stopped in the early 60's! There were many unfortunate incidents between the bears and the tourist with the bears winning! Actually there are many neat places to visit on the TN side of the Smoky’s and we are a little tempted to visit some again, like Cades Cove

We stop in Gattlinburg, TN at the foot of the pass for some lunch. It is a cute little town but has gotten way too touristy during the "season". Loading home into the GPS, we see it is a 16 hour drive! No way can we do that starting now, so we decide to try to get to Meridian, MS tonight.
From there we know we can get home tomorrow night. About Chattanooga, Dick remembers that we gain an hour so Carolyn calls ahead to the Meridian Hampton Inn she has stayed at many times on her trips to NC and we are set for the night. We stop at a Cracker Barrel for a heavy bit of home cooking in Tuscaloosa and get to the hotel around 8PM.

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