Blairsville, Georgia (high 75, low 45)
A cold front is heading this way, bringing us a very rainy day. The overnight lows are currently predicted to get down to 35 degrees tomorrow night. Burrrrrrr. Time to unpack the electric blanket!
Many years ago, we went to Cades Cove, in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Yesterday, we decided to bite the bullet and take a very long 150 mile drive to Cades Cove.
We always saw bears there and since we haven’t been able to see one here yet, we decided to go where we thought it would be a sure thing. The bears in Cades Cove were unafraid of humans, and out during they day with their young, making for some very good photo opportunities.
We got on the road by 8am and it was a beautiful day.
We started out in Georgia, went through North Carolina, and ended up in Tennessee.
There were plenty of scenic overlooks.
The fall color didn’t look any different than it does here in Blairsville.
We are guessing this pipe is for water?
It crossed the road.
There was yet another dam nearby, but I’m not sure what the name of it was, but I think we were still in North Carolina.
At some point in our travels, we started to realize we were heading towards the infamous “Tail of the Dragon” motorcycle route.
Unfortunately, in these mountains, your choices are limited.
Oh goodie…just what we need, a narrow road with 318 curves in 11 miles, but there were few other options.
This was the most narrow paved mountain road we’ve been on, but fortunately everybody traveling with us was enjoying the sites and not hell bent on seeing how fast they could go around the curves.
It was mostly motorcycles.
The gps showed all the curves.
There were photographers all along the way. They took photos of everyone that drove by, and then you can go to their online sites and purchase your picture if you choose to. I’m sure they do pretty well with the motorcycles. We saw our picture, but aren’t going to buy it.
It was a long 11 miles, but fortunately there was a pretty scenic overlook towards the end.
I guess we should have stopped and bought a t-shirt. :)
Once we got off of the dragon, we still had a long way to get to Cades Cove.
We followed hwy 129 most of the way.
Fortunately, there were a few pretty overlooks into the Tennessee Smoky Mountains.
It was 12:30 by the time we got to Cades Cove. There is just no rushing on these mountain roads.
This tunnel was larger than it looked, and I think the motorhome would have fit, but we saw no signs for clearance.
We finally arrived in Cades Cove and stopped at the visitor tent to purchase a map for $1.
I got my camera ready for all the bear photographs I was going to take. :)
The park was even more beautiful than I had remembered.
It was pretty crowded, but I know later in the month it will be much worse when all the “leaf peepers” start to arrive.
In Cades Cove, there is an 11 mile one way loop, with a few side roads with traffic going both directions.
When we went there before, as soon as we saw a bunch of cars stopped, we knew they had spotted wildlife.
We were always on the alert for traffic jams.
There are several old farm houses and churches along the way. We had seen them and were on a mission for bear, so our stops were limited.
One bridge over a pretty stream.
How do you like the matt and frame I added to this photo on Picasa?
The cemetery is always sad with so many graves of babies and young children.
We had to laugh at this one. Those darn “North Carolina rebels”
We drove around the loop twice, with a few stops at the cabins and visitor center. No bears yet.
When we were almost out of the loop near the campground, Al finally saw a bear running across the road. We (and several others) stopped our cars. I jumped out, camera in hand to learn the bear has already ran up the hill.
So….Al saw a bear, but I didn’t!
These horses are about the only “wildlife” that I saw, but they sure were pretty.
About 3:30, we decided we should head home since we had a long ride back to Blairsville.
It was a long day. Cades Cove was beautiful, but we were disappointed that we didn’t get the bear encounter that we had in the past. I didn’t even see a bear.
We went a different route home, through Marysville, Madisonville all along highway 411. We ended up in traffic and with many stop lights. That was the first time we’ve dealt with traffic in 3 months and we didn’t like it!
It was an easier route home and despite the traffic, the one we will probably take if we go up that way again. The Tail of the Dragon was a one time occurrence!
We were tired by the time we got home, after a 300 mile day trip. We were disappointed we had no bear encounters, even though Al did get a glimpse of one. I think if we would have had more time to spend there, we may have had better luck. Maybe we need to find a zoo! :)