The Rest of Our Tennessee Time

The rest of our stay in TN passed quickly, especially because the last week we both ended up being out of town for work.

Smoky Mountain Fall Leaves
Smoky Mountain Fall Leaves

We visited downtown Knoxville a few times to eat & walk around. Market Square has a bunch of restaurants and shops and I enjoyed a pretty decent burger at Stock & Barrel one evening and tried a new bourbon. We also watched football twice down there, but unfortunately never did get to the recommended speakeasy bar located down an alley – that sounded fun!

One weekend we just drove around enjoyed the scenery in the area and found ourselves in downtown Maryville, TN. Samantha, Keith & I walked around for a few hours, enjoying a slice of small town life and reading about the history of the theatres they have there.

Snow kissed fall mountains
Snow kissed fall mountains

We had designs on getting back into Smoky Mountain National Park the following weekend but there was an early winter snowstorm that closed all access. Instead, we drove out to Gatlinburg. If you haven’t been, the town looks like Orlando & Las Vegas threw up in the mountains. I expected touristy, but I was really hoping for a lot less Ripley’s Believe it or Not buildings (3!) and neon, and instead some regular touristy kitsch. Actually, my hope was after the hideousness of Pigeon Forge being so flashy, that Gatlinburg was going to be more of a Deadwood, SD type of attraction. On the plus side, the Gatlinburg chamber of commerce got on the Ingress bandwagon with a mission so we walked to historical areas around the town.

White Oak Flats Cemetery in Gatlinsburg, TN
White Oak Flats Cemetery in Gatlinsburg, TN

We found an old cemetery a few streets away from the main drag on a hill that gave a beautiful view of the snow kissed trees on the mountains – so the trip was still worth it. Oh yes, we can cross off another ‘Seymour’ on the list, as Keith got his picture taken in front of the welcome to Seymour, TN sign!

A Seymour in Seymour!
A Seymour in Seymour!

On our last weekend in TN the park opened back up so we took a drive around the  Cades Cove loop. We initially planned on biking it but the temps were still a bit low for that to be fun. Even though it’s a one way loop, the access was pretty tight so it wouldn’t have been a fun ride hoping that people looking for bears wouldn’t hit you with their cars.

View in Cades Cove
View in Cades Cove

Speaking of bears – we ended up seeing 3! One was just a few cars up, a little baby bear that just kinda ambled across the road. The other was as were we leaving and it caused such a huge backup a ranger walked by us and after quite some time we finally got moving – the ranger not allowing people to stop. We got a glimpse of two huge backsides as they walked into the forest along a ravine. Cades Cove provided some beautiful scenery but again, it was a bit of drag having so much traffic.

Oh yes! Thanks to RVillage, we got to meet the fine folks at How I Wrecked My Life. They happened to see that we were only a mile or so down the road, so they invited us over for dinner. Our schedule was tight because we were both traveling, but we managed to find a date that worked. It was so nice to chat for a few hours with them, and like most RVers do, share stories of the road – what works, what doesn’t. They are staying in TN for a bit so I wish them well & some warmth!

With more freezing temperatures coming, it’s time to get out of the hills – we’re beach bound!

Smoky Mountain Drive

We landed in Heiskell, Tennessee mid afternoon on a Saturday, and by 5:45 the next morning I was dropping Keith off at the airport. A few months ago, Keith also snagged a remote position, although his comes with a bit more travel. We will see how much travel it actually becomes and how that works with RV living (and moving) but for now, we’re in a trial period giving it a shot.

Since I had to be up at the crack of dawn, I decided to take Samantha into the park & drive – catch the sunrise and make it up to Clingman’s Dome. It was a beautiful day & a beautiful drive, and heading up early made all the difference with the crowds.

Views obscured by heavy fog.
Views obscured by heavy fog.
Smoky Mountain View
Smoky Mountain View
Smoky Mountain Morning
Smoky Mountain Morning
Panoramic View from the Clingman Dome area
Panoramic View from the Clingman Dome area

Upon Keith’s return, we took another drive, this time along the lower route since the traffic was just insane to attempt to get to Clingman’s Dome. We also attempted to visit Gatlinburg but after taking 45 minutes to go a mile,  we also bagged on that plan. We did get to drive through part of the park and the views and leaves were beautiful but the traffic was also rather oppressive.

It reinforces our usual desire to travel in the off season or off periods. Of course, it’s hard to have an off season to enjoy the brilliant autumn leaves!

We’re here one more weekend and we hope to take a hike on the AT and also do the drive or perhaps even bike the Cades Cove loop. (although with the autumn snowfall received, we might have to bag those plans as well!)

Campground Notes: Elkhorn Campground, Frankfort KY

When we first planned on heading south to KY, I had designs on staying in a state park. We were thinking of Horse Park in Georgetown but there is one big problem with state parks stays – they are usually limited to 2 weeks.

Since I had a corporate retreat over a weekend, we really needed to stay someplace 3 weeks. I started taking a look around Lexington but didn’t really see much. Luckily, not to far away in Frankfort was a campground that was only a few miles from the capitol, but also wooded & on a creek.

View seen on our walks around the campground.
View seen on our walks around the campground.

Overall our stay at Elkhorn was nice. We had fast free internet, and our mifi worked well when the campground internet got a little flaky. We were backed into a site that opened up to a large field, and while it was private property & couldn’t be used, it was nice to have an open space behind us.

Campfire View at Elkhorn
Campfire View at Elkhorn

The spots were a tad tight and the one particular spot we were in had a raised driveway, making backing in even more tricky in the tight space. On the weekends the park really filled up but overall, the park did a nice job of quieting things down early. (ie an announcement was made at dusk that all kids had to be off their bikes).

While I was away, Keith did have an issue with one of the more permanent residents and we are finding this to be a disturbing, trend with our recent stays. While walking our dog that is always on a 6 foot, non-retractable lead, an off lead smaller dog ran up to Samantha & attacked. The owner just stood there while Keith tried to separate the dogs and then was upset when Keith used less than desirable language out of frustration. We were told our ‘wolf dog’ shouldn’t be allowed in the park. Keith did notify the office of the situation and we ended up having no further incidents.

During our stay we had some unusual weather as well. A storm rolled through and produced several tornado warnings and watches. I was able to experience huddling in a cinderblock bathroom with our fur kids waiting out the tornado sirens – not my idea of fun! My picture of an early funnel cloud was picked up by The Weather Channel and earned me props from work for being on a conference call while taking the picture.  Another storm stalled over the region and dropped almost 10″ of rain on us, causing the creek that borders the park to swell alarmingly. We were assured by the campground owners that while the creek had previously flooded the campground, it never came as far up as our site.

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