Smoky Mountains

I recently had the opportunity to take a trip so, we packed up and headed to the Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the things we ended up doing on this trip.

Cades Cove Driving Loop

Near the Smoky Mountain, National Park Campground, you will find an amazing wildlife viewing area that we love to pass through – Cades Cove Driving Loop. It’s an 11-mile, driving path that loops around the cove and offers many spectacular views.

Valley of Rich History

The Cherokee Indians hunted Cades Cove for hundreds of years but no evidence was found of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. Cades Cove offers a wide variety of historic buildings and historic information about the people that lived there.

  • 3-Churches
  • A working grist mill
  • Barns
  • Log houses
  • other restored nineteenth century structures

Wildlife Viewing

Over the years, we have been blessed with many wild life sightings while driving through Cades Cove:

  • White-tailed deer (Huge bucks, fawns, does, button bucks)
  • Black bears (Grown adults, cubs of many sizes)
  • Turkey
  • Coyotes
  • Hawks
  • Red Wolves-Which are not in the park anymore.

Many years ago the park released Red wolves into Cades Cove in efforts to restore wild wolf populations in suitable areas. Unfortunately, their efforts failed and the remaining wolves were captured and moved. Many were recaptured after straying from the park onto private land, 6 were killed – either hit by cars or killed by humans. Out of 33 pups born in the wild, only 4 survived. The wolves couldn’t find enough food to eat in this mountainous area. Many wolves left, presumably in search of prey, and some of those that remained succumbed to disease, parasites, and starvation. During one of our early trips to the park, we were blessed with a sighting of a Red Wolf and came across him later carrying a turkey in his mouth. I treasure that memory.

Wildlife viewing tips

Biking

Experience the cove on a bike. The loop road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until 10:00 am every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. You can rent a bike at the campground store. It is strongly recommended to wear helmets and required of any children 16 and under. Visit the Campground Store Website.

Hiking

Hiking was high on my priority list. Since we visit Cades Cove several times during these visits, we chose to hike a trail in the Cades Cove loop – Abrams Falls, which offers up a scenic hike and a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail.

  • 5.2 miles round trip
  • moderate difficulty rating
  • parking lot

Hiking is one of my favorite, fitness activities. I find that the Smoky Mountains features cooler weather which means I don’t have to fight off mosquitoes, and the view is breathtaking. I find it risky with large drop-offs and slippery paths so, be sure to take precautions. You don’t want to end up in the E.R. as a result. Cold and rain can come up quickly, so do the research; what is the weather going to be like, what clothes to wear, what shoes to wear, what should you bring, etc.? Once, during my hike, a storm rolled in, causing the temperature to drop and I found the path extremely slick. I didn’t want to fall as a result, so I slowed my pace and kept a close eye on the path.

Pigeon Forge Titanic Attraction

There is something about the Titanic story that has always captured my attention so, we stopped in to see the museum and was quite pleased with it. The owner of the museum is none other than John Joslyn, who led a dive expedition to the Titanic site 2 years after it was discovered. As a result of his dives, 2 museums have opened up in Branson and Pigeon Forge, which exhibits some of the largest, permanent collections of the Titanic artifacts, and memorabilia. Guests enter a unique world that showcases exact replicas of the beautiful, handcrafted Grand Staircase.

Passenger Story

Each guest receives a card with a story of a passenger that was aboard the Titanic. At the end of the tour, their fate is revealed. My passenger survived the accident and her story turned out to be surprisingly interesting.

One tip I would like to offer: At the end of the tour, we had the opportunity to take a picture. The Grand Staircase was superimposed in the background and the picture is beautiful and professional looking. I wish I knew how well that photo would have come out, s0 I would have dressed nicer. As a result, I was unhappy with my picture, but that was my own fault. Other than that, this attraction deserves 5 stars!

There are so many things to do in the Smoky Mountain region. If ever traveling that way, make sure you visit websites and do some research. There are many places you can stay. Cades Cove is a major attraction for my family. So, when we visit the Smoky Mountains, we like to stay in Townsend. It’s the easiest access to Cades Cove and take Wears Valley Road when we venture into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Catherine Bares

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#Seattle Charm


 

I’ve been on the road for the past couple of weeks and have been quiet on the blog side; my apologies.  Although I am still out of town, my last trip to Seattle has inspired me to write this blog.  I am finally ready to publish it and send it out.  Please leave a comment about your favorite spots in Seattle. If you haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Seattle, what would you do if you were to end up in the Emerald City?  Any bucket list wishes?

There are many things to do and see in Seattle.  One of my favorite things to do, when I make it downtown, is venture into Pikes Place Market, a public market that opened in 1907, overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront. (one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers market in the United States) If you make it into the market, be sure to check out Pike Place Fish Market, where flinging fish from the display cases to the scales for cutting and packaging has become one of Seattle’s most well known landmarks.  It is quite entertaining to watch the flying fish and the delighted patron’s reactions, especially those seeing it for the 1st time.

Along with flying fish, the market showcases many businesses; seafood, fresh produce, fresh flowers, crafts of all kinds, art, specialty foods, and an abundance of bakeries, cafes, diners, restaurants and sweet shops.  There are 3 floors of unique shops, specializing in collectibles, comics, jewelry, books, art and more.

Street performers have long entertained shoppers which adds to the Market’s ambiance.  You will be surprised by some of the talent that lingers in and sets up to perform.

Other attractions that I have experienced and felt were well worth the time and investments:

  • Seattle’s underground tour (learn about the Emerald City’s strange and quirky history)
  • Museum of History and Industry (one rainy day we ventured into this museum and was engrossed in Northwest history, innovation growth and much more)
  • Mt. Ranier (Wilderness hiking, camping, and climbing)
  • Space Needle (Amazing views of water, city and mountains.  Newly added, floor to forever glass floors that are calling me back to check out. Maybe on my next trip)

There are many restaurants in the downtown area that provide a unique dining experience.  Some come with amazing views of waterfronts, marinas, or the city. For the wine lovers,  you may want to check out the Purple Cafe that features a unique, circular, staircase wine rack system.

What are your favorite adventures in Seattle?  Where would you go if you went to Seattle?  Leave a comment, I would love to hear about it.

Catherine Bares


 

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#Branch off and Smile!

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I love to Smile!  That is just me.  Not only do I like to smile, I like to see others smile.  When hiking and spending time outdoors I sometimes come across Nature smiling, I like to think its because I left my mark.

Catherine Bares

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