It doesn’t take long to stop and enjoy what you happen to enjoy in life. It’s really only stopping for five minutes and taking in what’s around you. I don’t take my camera out of the bag enough; I’m guilty of looking straight down the road and only focusing on the destination as of late when I should be taking time to enjoy the journey.
There’s so much to see and I forget sometimes that I have to work for a living; I am a husband and father, and those come first. And I like my job and love my family.
But what I do, not best and not what I enjoy most, what’s at my core and gives me peace and alone time is this:
Just wandering and exploring and watching the revival of this and destruction of that. I’m an observer; I keep the record so that others might see what we were and what we are to become.
Mom and Dad are getting older and have decided to sell their place in the mountains. This has been our vacation place for the past six years.
Logan takes things as they come. It hasn’t bothered her much, although I know in the back of her mind she’ll miss it.
Sam is a bit upset. This is what he has known since he was four. I explained to him that now we’ll widen our travel area. We’ll make it a bigger adventure. And that piqued his interest.
We will still be mountain folk though the beach isn’t for us.
The wife and I aren’t looking forward to the hotel bills. But we’ve already found a small place in the same town that we love (see the post about Route 19 Inn), so you know there are other places out there for us.
Me? I’m wondering where I’m going to get my coffee.
I don’t do coffee shops. You’ll never find me in a Starbucks. I don’t do McCafés or frappés.
Nope. I’ve been going to the same gas station getting my coffee for my #CoffeeByTheCreek posts for the last six years.
I’ve made friends with the old fella that runs the place. He remembers me year after year. “Hello, my friend. It has been two years almost since I saw you last!”
I’ll bet we talked thirty minutes last Friday. I’ll miss that.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was created in 1933 to provide jobs to young men who were skilled in masonry, engineering, architecture, landscaping, or simply hard work. They built hundreds of miles of roads and hiking trails, bridges, buildings, campgrounds, and more in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The CCC most commonly used stone to build the structures. Some of the most well-known structures they built are the original Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the tower at Mount Cammerer, and the four-arch Elkmont Bridge. However, some of the accomplishments of the CCC are less well known, like the secret tunnel under Clingmans Dome Road!
The Thomas Divide Tunnel is less than a mile west of the junction with Newfound Gap Road. When Clingmans Dome Road was finished in 1935, there was a trail that closely paralleled the upper section of Newfound Gap Road on the North Carolina side. It connected to the Appalachian Trail on the far side of Clingmans Dome Road. Instead of routing the trail to cross Clingmans Dome Road, the engineers chose to build the tunnel under the roadbed. This old hiker’s tunnel kept the hikers from having to cross over Clingmans Dome Road
We usually visit The Road To Nowhere and a tiny cemetery on Independence Day. The. We head over to Nantahala. This year we added in Clingmans Dome because we found this online. It’s harder and harder to find something we haven’t done that’s regular tourist stuff. Occasionally you have to dig a little deeper.
It’s not hard to find. Just after the turn onto Clingman’s Dome Road, there’s a pull-off to the right. Park there and make your way to the bridge and down along the side. Watch your step.
It’s a neat place to find, and you certainly won’t have to deal with many people. If I’m heading out to Clingman’s, I will visit again. Maybe take a little picnic lunch and sit at the end over the parkway.
I have many other vids and pics to download and edit from the last five or six days. At least I have material to post.
We’re heading home today, and I’m already feeling the tension.
We have a few spots to hit on the way back.
I wrote that early this morning and plans changed.
We headed on down the parkway after hitting Soco Tower. We always stop there. It’s billed as “The Most Photographed View in The Smoky’s.” That may be an exaggeration, but the folks who own it are friendly, and they have a neat little gift shop at the bottom.
Soco Tower cost .50 per person. It’s a neat little throwback to simpler things. My parents used to take me up there, and so I take our kids. ‘Nuff said.
We finally made it onto the BRP around 11:00 AM.
We made a quick stop at Water Rock Knob for the view and tradition, then headed towards Devil’s Courthouse.
We arrived at Devil’s Courthouse and the weather was looking like rain, and we decided against it.
Other factors contributed to the decision: my back, the wife’s knees, and both kid’s ankles. We went a little too hard this weekend.
We headed on down the BRP towards Asheville and gave Sam the decision of getting off at Asheville and running home or going out to Linn Cove Viaduct to hike underneath. He chose the latter.
We were detoured due to a road closure we knew nothing about. Simple five-mile detour, but the Linn Cove Viaduct visitors center was closed.
The road home was long today, but I see the lights of Kershaw right now, and it’s good to be home.
Today hasn’t been that exciting. We took the kids over to Gatlinburg to let them do their thing and we hit some of the old spots we usually go to.
We went to check out Elkmont where they’ve been doing a lot of renovations on some of the abandoned houses. It’s nice to see history preserved.
Then on to Cades Cove to do a little bear spotting. We actually saw one far off in the fields.
I like watching the ravens beg for food alongside the cars on the loop. They are very entertaining.
We were out pretty much all day. We had a sit-down breakfast at The Mountaineer and fast food the rest of the day. The Mountaineer is fairly priced for good food. We got overcharged for what we got at Johnny Rockets in Gatlinburg.
We topped off the day with mini golf at Maggie Valley Carpet Golf.
Here is where I’m going to say something about Maggie Valley that won’t be popular.
Y’all gotta step y’all’s game up.
I know that the last two years have taken a bite out of everybody. And I know a business is hard to run but you’re not gonna keep a business if it isn’t open.
Several of our favorite restaurants are still there but aren’t open for business on Fourth of July weekend. That’s very concerning for a town that thinks it’s going to jump up from the reopening of Ghost Town amusement park. I know I see the guy down at Route 19 Inn putting money into a place and hoping for the best. And he’s giving it his best. Like I wrote before me and the wife are very impressed with that motel. More importantly, we were satisfied with the money we spent with that place of business.
Chris Smith at Chris and Friends Antiques has invested a ton in his business.
We love Maggie Valley. We would love to keep coming here. But if there’s nothing to do there’s no reason to come.
We spend the majority of our time on the trails around the town up in the mountains but we spend our money here on food and other entertainment.
We have real friends here that run businesses. And a lot of them are still open and running.