Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Journey Begins

Brett and I are officially retired.  YIPPEE!!!  After six weeks of trying to get on the road we have finally started the big adventure.  We left on Monday and drove to Sevierville, TN, right outside the Great Smoky Mountains.........and Pigeon Forge..........and Gatlinburg.  A lot of commercialization here, even worse than Myrtle Beach, SC, but still a beautiful area.  We are staying in our rig up in the mountains and have a panoramic view of the Great Smoky from several directions.  Very beautiful and cooler than SC but still around 90 with humidity depending on the time of day and where you are at.  We had planned on going hiking today with the dogs, Lucy our yellow lab, and Max our tiger brindle Boxer but we learned that dogs are not allowed on most of the the trails in federal parks.  Disappointing yes, but we understand the reasons why.  Dogs can be confusing to wild animals that catch their scent and then are afraid to forage out of their homes.   Dogs can introduce disease into the park's ecosystem, esp. if they haven't been vaccinated . Dogs can cause wild animals to attack the pet or others around it, and dogs can also be severely injured or killed by wild animals.  All good reasons to keep them off the trails.  They did have two short trails that we could take the dogs on but both were a good distance away.  So, instead, we took several drives through the different areas of the park and saw many beautiful sights. 
Between 8-10 million people visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park each year, making it the most visited national park in the country. We can attest to that today.  There were a lot of people and traffic.  This area would probably be easier to view in the spring or fall when small children have to go back to school.  :)   The park got its name from the bluish colored clouds of precipitation that form around the peaks of the mountains.  The park can receive upwards of 85 inches of rain a year and is considered a sub-rain forest climate.  The park was built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) in the 1930's during the Depression.  It is amazing when you view all the rock work and tunnels that had to be blasted through to create this park considering the tools used in those days.  It was dedicated and opened by FDR in 1940.

Below are some pictures we took.  Since we are new at blogging this has been a struggle so please bear with us (pun intended). 

The first picture is of a bear we saw in the park.  He's the big brown spot in the middle of the page! It looked to be an adolescent that was trying to get into a honey nest.  He was digging furiously on the ground near a tree and there were bugs attacking his head so he had to stop every few seconds and shake them off.  He was not a happy bear.  Even worse, we were in a car about 15 feet away and there were people rushing over on foot with cameras to get a picture.   

Picture two is the morning mountains over some beautiful log homes near where we stayed.  All the homes were on 3-4 acre lots on rolling hills with either red or green tin roofs.  The pups had a ball chasing rabbits through the fields and yards at 6:00AM.

Next is yours truly........enough said.   

The bubbling water is one of the rivers which flows through the park on its way down the mountains.  There are many rocks in the Great Smokies so the rivers can be treacherous to travel.  But that didn't stop tons of people who were river rafting or in canoes or in inner tubes, etc.    

The final picure is an idyllic landscape from Cade's Cove which is a scenic drive through land that was at one time farmed by settlers.  It was difficult survival for many and years later when locals decided it should be preserved they made it part of the park and the inhabitants had to move out.  The drive has old wooden two room houses, old churches, and cemetaries dating back to the 1800's.

Well, I'm exhausted now and Brett is trying to learn Picasa so he's exhausted, too.  Time for Happy Hour !

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