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