Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Flowers Explore - Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains - 2021/08/01

After a fun time exploring the area around the visitor's center we started heading back to the truck. 

We meet people around the RV park when we take our random walks. One couple we happened to meet were a pair of school teachers from Texas who are enjoying their summer off. They even mentioned something called a Barndominium which is something you can park your RV in and live in too. We'll have to look into that whenever we settle down. 

Anyway, we randomly happened to see them in the parking lot while we were walking back to the truck. They mentioned just returning from Cades' Cove, an isolated valley and the most popular destination inside Great Smoky Mountain National Park. And while they were up there they even saw a bear up in a tree! 

It's going to take us at least 1:15 to get to Cades Cove and the roads are though the mountains and windy. Theresa asked if we should go and Ian responded with an enthusiastic YES! I guess that settles it!
I started off down the road, but it was a little too much for Theresa who gets motion sick. We stopped off on the side of the road for a break. 

Right by a creek. 

Ian - Can I touch the water? 

Go for it buddy. Just don't fall in. 

Wild! Another crazy mushroom we're not going to mess with. 

For the rest of the trip up, Theresa took over the driving duties. That'll help with the motion sickness!

Just before we got to the loop, we stopped at the Cades Cove Information Kiosk. Here they have maps of the Cove for $1 (on your honor). 

We'll have to look out for some of these flowers. 

What we're really looking for on this trip are the wild animals that call the park home. It's overcast and not especially hot here, so we lowered all the windows and opened up the sunroof. These aren't wild horses but they're still something the kids aren't used to seeing and therefore cause for exclamation. 

Now this is something new. Wild Turkeys! Theresa pulled off to the side and parked the truck and everyone got out for a closer look. 

Anyone feeling like a turkey dinner? 

It's beautiful here. And it's nice having the one-way loop to drive around this valley. 

With the clouds the mountains do look a little smoky to me. 

Everyone having fun? Where's Alli? 

Ha! There she is. 

We passed, but didn't stop inside the Cades Cove Methodist Church, built in 1902. 

Or the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church from 1915. 

Instead we're stopping by the Cades Cove Visitor's Center. 

Here they have souvenirs, books, pins, stuffed animals, and even Junior Ranger vests and hats. Maybe when they collect a few more badges they'll get vests to display them. And I haven't seen them in person, but online I've even seen Pink Junior Ranger vests. Alli would love that!

Next we looked at the old John Cable gristmill, which is a mill that grinds grain into flour. Ian and Alli got an education of how the waterwheel turns, which then turns a wheel inside the mill. 

And how does that waterwheel turn? With a flume of water diverted from a nearby creek. 

And these look like old grinding wheels. 

It's past 5pm at this point and we're a ways from home. It's about time to start heading back. Just as we were coming up to the Dan Lawson Cabin, I noticed a whole bunch of people standing around and under this tree. Is something up there? 

Yes! It's a bear! I wasn't expecting this today, otherwise I would have brought my DSLR with a zoom lens. I'll have to live with iPhone photos today. 

I was surprised how close people were getting. I know that bear isn't looking like he's coming down soon, but there were people right at the tree trunk looking up at it. The bear was seemingly oblivious to it all. He was just up in the tree as high as he could be eating what looked like leaves from the tree. Why the ones at the top were tastiest, I don't know. 
Ian added more to his write-up for the day:  
Ian - Update I just saw a black bear!

Either way though, I thought that was really awesome that we got to see a bear out in the wild! 

Continuing our drive, every time we came to a clearing, our eyes were on the lookout for even more animals. 

People were slowing down once they got to a clearing. I wonder what they're seeing?

Ah, it's a deer wandering through the woods. 

And a short while later, in the middle of the road saw a few more deer, but these have antlers. 

And a few more over in the field nearby. 

It's 6pm and we're about 90 minutes away from home. It's going to be a late night getting back home. I think we're done exploring for today. Theresa drove us back on the windy roads again. 
A tunnel! 

I'm glad we ended up taking the time to drive up. Seeing a bear and the other animals were a big highlight of today!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful closing photo...full, green trees with the Smoky Mountains and clouds behind. Lots of scenery and greenery with those fields and forests. Such a variety of wildlife in Cades Cove...deer, turkey, horses, and the big one, black bear!...hmmm, I don't think I'd be one of those people standing near the tree trunk & looking up at the bear (little too close for comfort :-) ) That was a strange mushroom (all "bumpy-looking") seen during the rest break (fresh air, soothing water sounds, and stillness can help one to feel better...getting motion sickness is not fun!...I can empathize) Despite the extra drive to Cades Cove, looks like it was an interesting excursion. P.S. The gristmills' waterwheel and its purpose made me think of the water wheel in Disneyland's Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (such a wonderful attraction...sorry it was replaced by Tarzan's Treehouse. The Disney Swiss Family Robinson movie was a favorite of mine growing up, too). EOM