Friday, October 28, 2011

The Great Smoky Mountain Vacation 2011 (Part 2)

On Monday there was a fairly high probability of rain so Lynn and I chose to spend the day in Gatlinburg just walking around and looking at the stores and sites.

We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, couple of sandwiches and sodas cost us just shy of $30! This was a real stretch for Lynn and I, not really huge "rock" fans but we do have an appreciation for the "legends". But overall ... overpriced, over-hyped and totally over rated! (IMHO)

Spent the rest of the day just walking around and looking at stuff.

On Tuesday we celebrated my birthday by going out for breakfast and supper. I am amazed at the number of pancake/waffle houses in the south! There was not just one or two but a bunch and they all seemed to close around 2 PM, so they we're a breakfast bit only. So ... we got up and had breakfast at a local pancake house; very tasty!

After breakfast, we got back to the real fun and hit the trails! We began by driving to Cade's Cove and conquered Abram's Falls. A really cool hike with a few log bridges. Although Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, the large volume of water rushing over falls more than makes up for its lack of height. The long, deep pool at its base is very picturesque. The waterfall and creek are named for Cherokee Chief Abram or Abraham whose village once stood several miles downstream. The trail to the falls traverses pine-oak forest on the ridges and hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek. The hike is 5 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty. What made this so hard was all of the exposed tree roots in the walking path! You really needed to watch your steps at all times.  That being said ... it was on this hike we saw a pregnant woman in flip-flops! I thought that if she could make the hike then the fat preacher could do it! Had a wonderful time with Lynn and enjoyed a light lunch/snack at the falls. Very cool!

The afternoon hike was at Laurel Falls on our way back to Gatlinburg. A very nice hike that we not very difficult but was very scenic. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park. Laurel Branch and the 80-foot high Laurel Falls are named for mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub which blooms along the trail and near the falls in May. The trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty but Lynn and I did not think it was really that hard, besides the trail is paved.

For my birthday supper we dined at a local steakhouse. The food was excellent. I had the Rib-eye and Lynn had the Prime Rib. A little pricy but what do you expect overall I had a very enjoyable birthday!

Wednesday we only got to walk on trail that was totally deserted! We walked for about 30 minutes and then returned to the trail-head. A short but very fun time for just the two of us. The rest of the day was about getting ready for the long drive home on Thursday.

Our Rental - Chevy HHR
 The drive on Thursday .... we left at 4:45 AM Iowa time and arrived in Clear Lake at 11:30 PM. Very long day but what a beautiful drive! What an incredible vacation!!!

 There are a myriad of sidebar stories and I will try to share those as I'm able...

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Some of the information in this blog is taken directly from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park website:

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