COLORS OF GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

The path to Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair in Tennessee  from our home in Georgia is through gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  One of the reasons we enjoy participating as vendors at the fair is so we can enjoy the park during our free time before and after the show.

You never know what you’re going to see.  In July, 2015, we came across “Lawrence Elk,” but we didn’t have such luck this past July.

Now that we are doing the fall show as well, we expected to see black bears, wild turkeys, and fall colors.  Bruce was in luck seeing a bear, we both saw several turkeys; and, best of all, we had the pleasure of enjoying the array of autumn colors of the leaves during the drive home.

p1080734

p1080738

See some of Bruce’s art glass at http://www.CookedGlassCreations.Etsy.com 

01

02

03

04

05

06

07

08

 

GATLINBURG: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

The beauty of Gatlinburg is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is located just south of town. The photos in my previous blog post demonstrate just a snippet of what can be seen in the beautiful Smokies.

The beast is in Parkway Drive, one of the tackiest and touristy streets I have ever seen in the U.S.A. Just about anywhere with a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” is bound to have a tacky element to it, but Gatlinburg has nearly 10 properties owned and operated by Ripley’s. Add to it all of the arcades, miniature golf outfits, and other “family attractions,” and it rivals Panama City Beach and other tourist traps for the “Top Tacky Tourist Trap” award.

Now, add “redneck” to the mix. You can see where I’m going with this…

All bets were off, however, when I saw the variety of Confederate flag attire and Made-in-China (ironic, isn’t it?) crap on display in the stores along Parkway Drive. Want a Confederate flag bikini? How about a huge Confederate flag to fly on a pole in the back of your pickup truck? Check out these shirts. Pick any one; they all turned my stomach.

P1020010

I had no intention of really spending anytime on that street; however, after sitting at our craft show booth all day yesterday at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, I was ready to get some exercise. After dinner, I walked the couple of blocks from our hotel to the main drag just to see what was drawing so many cars and pedestrians.

14

15

16

17

 

OK, I’ll ‘fess up. I also wanted to buy some fudge, so I thought I would hunt down a shop recommended on Trip Advisor.

18

Along the way, I passed “The Fudgery” and sampled a taste offered by the guy behind the counter. As soon as I saw the Confederate baseball cap on his head, though, I told him, “No, thank you,” and, I turned around and walked out.

After picking up some dark chocolate fudge at Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies, I had seen enough and returned to the comfort of our room at Mountain House Motor Inn.

I went to sleep last night wondering if I would ever see the day when the United States of America is truly the United States. In my dreams…

WHEN YOU COME TO THE FORK IN THE ROAD, TAKE IT!

How lovely to wake up in Gatlinburg this morning to a beautiful, sunny day! We had the entire day free to enjoy the area, so we left the touristy downtown area and headed up to Great Smoky Mountain National Park located immediately behind the town.

05

A wonderful way to enjoy the park is to drive Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a narrow, winding 5.5 mile-long, one-way, loop road through the dense forest of the Great Smoky Mountains. The speed limit is 10 mph, so there is plenty of opportunities to enjoy the breathtaking views of the rushing stream the narrow road parallels along the way.

06

07.JPG

08

09

10

11

If you drive this trail, make sure to roll down your window throughout the duration, because the sound of the stream is relaxing and beautiful! There are also places to pull off and park, so we took those opportunities to shoot photos and do a little bit of hiking to see some of the old log cabins and other historic buildings along the way. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough parking, so we missed out on hiking the Grotto Falls Trail. Oh well, next time!

We also didn’t see any black bears, even though there is an alert in effect due to the increased bear activity. That’s ok, at least we saw “Lawrence Elk” yesterday!

12

13

After enjoying the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, we returned to the city of Gatlinburg to drive another trail: The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. This was an 8-mile loop of local artisan studios and shops located in the lush green hills outside of bustling Parkway Drive, a touristy main street we have been avoiding. Thankfully, we figured out the back way to the convention center from our motel, so we can avoid having to drive along Parkway Drive to and from our craft show. (After making the mistake of driving it into town yesterday, we vowed never to drive it again!)

Tomorrow, we return to the convention center to begin our 5-day stint at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair where Bruce and I will be selling his fused glass bowls, plates, candle holders, crosses (we are in the bible belt, after all), and jewelry.

Meanwhile, today ended with a swim at the Gatlinburg Community Center pool while Bruce relaxed next door at the library and read while petting their resident cat.