Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Onwards to the Smokies...

And so the stay in Louisville came and went swiftly - I got up at 5 and had left by 5:21 heading towards the Cumberland Gap and then down to the Great Smoky Mountains. Today was a significant scenery upgrade over yesterday; from Lexington, KY on the drive was quite pleasant. As for the Cumberland Gap - I spoke to a park ranger with the last name "Davis" who had also descended from Welsh Davies' - we were probably related. The views were quite nice and there were no people to be found at the Pinnacles Overlook (the most popularly visited place in the park).

The drive to the Smoky Mountains was slower, but was worth it. I ventured to Cade's Cove initially (24 miles from the entrance, 48 round trip) which proved to be a good way to spend an hour but unfortunately ended up being a frustrating way to spend 3 hours - the drive becomes 1-way after the 24 miles in (which, in itself, is a monotony of sharp turns and 35mph or less speed zones - this eventually puts one in another type of "zone" wherein the concept of distance traveled gets lost in translation). This, coupled with what must've been an "early out" for regional retirement homes (I sincerely believe the median age in Cade's Cove today was around 70 and this was only because I skewed the stats by .004 of 1 year) the going got slow quickly. It's amazing how fast slow feels when you've been going really slow.

This drive was followed by some hastily purchased magnets at the Visitor's Center (lest my fridge not know of my Eastern travels) and some nibbling on snack mix purchased somewhere back in Tennessee. Then, it was on to Clingman's Dome via a stop to film a bit of the Appalachian Trail and some various overlooks. In all, it was a rushed but spectacular setting (the rushing, of course, was not the fault of the Smokies). I arrived at my hotel, the Econo Lodge - on the Cherokee Indian Reservation and previously named, until 7 years ago, the "Red Skin Lodge". During check-in I decided to attempt to question a local and ended up questioning a sort-of local, an endearing young woman named Katy (by the way, I hope things go well for you in college and regarding a more than passing interest in moving to Montana). This turned into an ongoing front desk associate conversation (I've only had 1 of them before, the first with a man named Wally in South Dakota) that lasted, in intervals, throughout the night. The conversation proved to be nearly as good as the Smokies themselves; proof yet again that sometimes talking to people from the area is always (2 for 2, at least) a good time and filled with interesting anecdotal information that I would not have otherwise come across. Among more interesting topics discussed "The Road to Nowhere" and the "City that Drowned" certainly rank very highly (ask me about these later, as it is far too much to go in to in this format).

In between conversations, I busted out the recording equipment and recorded a new song entitled, you guessed it, "Oh, Appalachia!" which I will be posting here after I post this.

The Stats:
Driving Time: Essentially 12 hours
Driving Miles: 350+

What was Heard:
More on the Civil War
Vince Gill's "Little Brother" from his 4-disc collection released last year (this disc is entirely bluegrass)
Loretta Lynn's "Van Lear Rose"
Bluegrass Junction on XM

Tomorrow - not as much driving, but probably more slow driving (fortunately the slow to scenic ratio should be 1 to 1).


KATY said...


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