Tuckaleechee Caverns, Townsend / Cades Cove Summer Vacation – Day 4

Excuse the restaurant images.  Those are the only ones that I haven’t been able to replace when importing my old blog site to this new one.  All content is still good and all of the scenic images.  🙂

Everyone got a late start this day.  I got up a little earlier, got ready, and had breakfast outside by the pool while reading my book.  By the time everyone else got up, they were hungry.  I could eat again – it’s vacation!

I really wanted to try to stick to mom & pop places, but we ended up at a place called O’Charley’s in Pigeon Forge:

It turns out it’s a chain, but I think this one is worth mentioning.  The food was fantastic and the prices were very reasonable.  We had a wonderful server by the name of Johnnie (a young woman – she was named after a family member).  I had a grilled white cheese, tomato and bacon sandwich – but the bread it was on is what made it special (speaking of bread – they give you warm rolls).  One of my son’s had the quesadilla’s and my husband and other son had the hamburgers.  Everyone was very pleased with their meal.  Here’s a link to their corporate site:  http://www.ocharleys.com/  and yea for us!  I just noticed they’ve got one in our state (although not that close).

Then the plan was for me and the boys to go to Tuckaleechee Caverns.  My older son didn’t feel so hot from the day before.  I myself felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  Swimming against currents takes a lot out of you, and with my son’s “injury” to boot, he decided to go back to the room to rest.  My younger one also chose that option.  So it was just me (My husband has a bad knee, so he was out of the question – he waited outside for me).  We dropped the boys off at the room and told them we’d be back after my tour of the caverns.  They were beautiful!  So glad I brought my tripod, although I felt like I could have spent the whole day down there taking pictures!  The tour lasts around an hour.  Ours was about 1 1/2 hours.  Maybe it was because of the lady with the tripod!  You can see their site at http://www.tuckaleecheecaverns.com/

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Here is a shot I took when leaving the caverns:

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As my chauffeur (husband) and I were leaving the caverns, we realized that Cades Cove was not too far away.  My husband didn’t want to have to drive back out that way another day, so we decided to go.

This is a great park where you can camp, view wilderness, etc.  I spoke to one woman who was camping there (sorry no pictures of campground).  She said there are no electric hook-ups, but there is water at the sites (maybe not the primitive ones).  She’d been on a night hike the night before and that night they were having a interpretive talk – it sounded like Cades Cove has lots of planned activities.  They’ve got an 11 mile one-way loop road that goes around the park.  Besides just checking out the scenery and taking pictures of wildlife, there are also historic buildings along the way.

I was told that I’d see deer, turkey, horses and bear, to name a few animals.  I honestly didn’t think my chances of seeing a bear were good.  We’ve got bears where I live, but I’d never actually seen any.  I’d seen paw prints before, but not an actual bear.  WOW!  When you see traffic at a complete stand still on the loop, you know there’s a bear sighting.  We pulled off the road and I went to check it out.  Unfortunately, this was the one time I didn’t have my zoom lens.  I hadn’t needed it in the caverns, and we’d told the boys we’d be right back, so I didn’t bring it.  Did I learn my lesson for next time?  Darn tootin’!  We drove past a large field that had many deer in it – at least 10 – grazing in the fields together.  I didn’t take a picture since I couldn’t get close enough.

Here’s a picture with my 18-55mm lens:

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Everyone kept saying that the mama bears looked so small – that they must be teenagers and not the mom’s.  Black bears only grow between 200-300 pounds.
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Here’s a link to Cades Cove http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cadescove.htm

How exciting to see these beautiful animals! Here’s another shot as we were heading back to our hotel:

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We didn’t get back to the room until dinner-time.  So much for being right back!  For dinner, we decided to go to a great place that we’d been to 10 years before.  Smoky Mountain Brewery and Restaurant is located in the heart of Gatlinburg.  It’s off the main road behind a hotel.

It was quite lively the night we were there.  There was a trivia game just wrapping up when we arrived (the question we walked in on was about which seven states are the one’s that produce the most corn).  We ordered pizza, just like we did 10 years before.  Not many places we live near have pizza as good as you can find in Chicago.  It was great!

It’s got a few little shops just behind it.  There’s a gated arm that is outside of the parking lot.  If you eat at the restaurant, there is no charge – just show your receipt on the way out.

We went back to our room and parked, then walked over to The Track for more go-carting.  This time I left the camera behind and enjoyed the night!  I never took my foot off the gas!  I starting pushing people with me, yelling out that my car was fast and I’d get us all going.  I was a wild woman!

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