Southeast USA Day 4

Much better sleep last night. The Residence Inn has been having WiFi issues, so I was unable to upload my travel photos – hopefully I will get caught up over the next few days or at the worst, when I get back home. Today we again enjoyed the complimentary hot breakfast and headed out the door around 9:30 in the morning. We are retracing some of our journey from yesterday towards Dollywood, but we are heading past Pigeon Forge and on to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was also my turn to drive so after a few adjustments to our rented Hyundai Santa Fe, we were on our way.

First stop was a brief one at the post office for Gary, but we were back on the road to Gatlinburg. I decided at the last minute to swing by the Sunsphere in downtown Knoxville to take a photo of the site of the 1982 World’s Fair for Tiffany. A few snaps later it was back on I-40. We passed through Pigeon Forge again and flirted with the idea of making a few stops, but we pressed on to Gatlinburg. Gary mentioned that it is set up like a German themed town, which immediately brought to mind Solvang out in California. I immediately coined the phrase, “Solvang of Tennessee” and want to order T-shirts. We were looking for places to park so I could take a photo of Cooter’s, the Dukes of Hazzard museum and for Gary to see the Hard Rock, but we could not find one. We then took a side trip up to the Park Vista Hotel, overlooking Gatlinburg. Sadly, the lot was facing the wrong way to take photos of the town, but we did take some shots of the National Park and then of the 60s era architecture.

As we came down from the hotel, we ran smack dab into a religious Jubilee. There were thousands of Baptists running amok across the roads and it took us awhile to get clear of them so we could get back to the main road. We then headed into the Great Smoky Mountains Park proper and stopped taking photos at a few scenic overlooks, including Newfound Gap. It was super windy and cold up there, but it was nice to be out and about in nature, even if for a short time as we passed through the park. It also marked the boundary for North Carolina, my 31st state. I love it when they make easy to photograph signs!

After getting blown around, we then headed downhill into North Carolina towards the Cherokee Reservation. We did not spend much time there, but I can now say I have been to both the Navajo and Cherokee (Eastern) homelands. About an hour later we were back in civilization and approaching Asheville, NC our destination. We made good time today and it went by fast. We checked into the hotel, another Residence Inn with bad WiFi, but managed to secure our lodgings for the next two nights down in Atlanta.

With time to kill, we decided to head up to the Grove Park Inn. It is one of the older establishments here in Asheville and world famous. Several presidents have stayed there and scores of dignitaries as well. It has a great Arts & Crafts style architecture and some of the furnishings and decor remind me of what Disney recreated at the Grand Californian Hotel. After noodling around and taking photos, we headed out to dinner. I chose Outback, since I was craving a bit of home and decided to treat Mom and Gary. We then headed back to the hotel to retire so we can get up early tomorrow.

Mom spent some time working on our last night reservations and then we decided late to head for an ice cream run. Sadly, the McDonald’s down the street was already cleaning their machine, so we decided to hit another one up on the North side of town. It turned out to be a Google Map phantom location, but we did get a nice tour of downtown Asheville. I decided to give it one more try with the one located near the Outback, and thankfully we were rewarded for our patience with a McFlurry for me and a Hot Fudge Sundae for Mom.

Heading back to the hotel, we saw the beginnings of a police confrontation with a person walking, and I told Mom as we were driving past that if I see a muzzle flash I am going to keep driving! Thankfully, we made it back safe and sound, although Gary was a bit worried. After making my sofa bed up, it is time for bed.

Tomorrow should take us down to Atlanta, GA via South Carolina. We are going to try and see what we can see of the Biltmore House that we can for free, but we might have to pay for parking. We thought that the Lost Sea was around here, but it turns out it was back towards Knoxville. That leaves us still to find some interesting sites to see on our way down to Georgia.
Operating Note: Flickr is now one day behind, but I will try and upload more as I sleep. Hopefully in the AM I will be all caught up!