Monday, October 19, 2015

Gatlinburg Vacay 2015: Day 2, Sunday, October 18

I had us up bright and early this morning.  I wanted to get to Cades Cove as soon as we could so that we could hopefully be in front of the crowd of people driving through it today.  We left the hotel around 7:30 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m., we were driving through.  I wanted to drive through and to stop and get out and check out each cabin and place that was in the cove.  The weather this morning definitely changed my mind on that; I'm gonna have to wait and do this a little later in the week and later in the day when it's warmer.  It was a chilly 32 degrees when we were driving through...with the windows down.  Brrr!!

While I love seeing everything about the cove and all of it's beauty, the one thing I was so excited to hopefully see was a bear!  Much to my surprise within just a few feet of entering the cove we encountered our first bear jam!  Yes! I was so excited!  I knew that bears were on high alert in the area and that there has been alot of bear sightings posted on a Facebook group about Cades Cove that I'm in, so I was really, really hoping to see one.  Right along the right hand side of the road laid the big black beauty and we could hear him just chomping away on nuts and berries.  We pulled up past the cones and tape that the park rangers had put in place and then stepped out to snap a few pictures.  My pictures definitely didn't turn out well at all as the sun was directly in my eyes and I was hurriedly snapping them as I didn't want any mama bears coming after me!  But at least I saw one, and I have a picture of it.  In all of our years of coming to the area, we've only seen a bear once and it was far away in the woods and it was in the days of point and shoot cameras, so you can't even tell what the picture was.  HAHA!

We probably spent about two hours driving around the cove, stopping at the visitor center to use the restroom and then walked around the cable mill area before hoping back into the car.  I had packed a cooler with some drinks and snacks so we had breakfast in the car and then finished our drive around the cove.  We saw quite a few deer, lots of turkeys, the bear, and upon exiting the cove, we saw a big 9 point buck just standing on the side of the woods chowing down.  Alot of cars passed right by him and he just stood there eating so I stopped and snapped a few pictures of him.

We made a pit stop at the picnic area to use the restrooms.  The picnic area was really busy today and there was no empty parking spots so I had to drop Shawn off so he could go and then circle back around to pick him up and then he drove the car around while I ran in and went to the restroom.  HAHA!  It's funny cause that's what alot of people were doing since there was no place to park and no other restroom facilities around!

After that, I wanted to drive back through the cove and take the first two-lane turn off and drive it and then exit the cove again.  Much to our surprise that black bear was still in the same area we saw him, only this time he was out in the road eating and there was about 3 or 4 park rangers there moving traffic through so they didn't stop and cause a bigger bear jam.  Shawn snapped a few more pictures with his phone as we drove through.

We left the cove and headed towards Townsend to have lunch.  I hadn't planned on eating lunch in that town and hadn't done any reviews on where to eat so we picked a spot based on all the cars in the parking lot.  We ended up at a place called Riverstone Restaurant.  Shawn had the BBQ pork sandwich and fries and I got the BLT sandwich and a baked potato.  The food was good, but nothing spectacular, and we probably won't be back.

We headed towards Elkmont campground because there is an abandoned town there and I wanted to walk around and explore it.  I can't believe in all of our times of coming to Gatlinburg that I didn't know about this place.  It was really neat to walk around and explore some of the old abandoned homes and read about the history of the area.  You can click here to read all about it.  It was definitely something fun to do and take pictures of.

It was getting late so we decided to start the trek back to Pigeon Forge, making a few stops along the way at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and a couple of the pull-offs along the Gatlinburg Bypass.  The scenic views from these pull-offs are absolutely amazing!  I could sit all day and just stare that these mountains!  Shawn got a work call while we were there so while I was out taking pictures, I busted out the selfie stick and played around with it for a little bit.  It was funny to see all of the other people out there using theirs as well.  HAHA!

This was the only heavy traffic we encountered the entire day and it was at the stop sign by Sugarlands Visitor Center.  

One crazy thing that happened when we were leaving the pull-offs.  I had just pulled out onto the road when this white car came up behind me and started honking his horn at me.  I didn't know why he was honking because I know I didn't pull out in front of him.  He kept honking at me.  Shawn thought maybe we had something hanging off the car but I knew we didn't and I was watching the man in my mirror and didn't see him pointing at the car like something was wrong.  Obviously yo him the problem was I wasn't driving fast enough for the man and he blew around me speeding on a freaking mountain road with curves and a double yellow line!  Seriously moron?  The speed limit is 35 and that's probably too fast for those curves anyway.  Shawn and I were seriously amazed at what an idiot he was for doing that!  

For dinner that evening we went to Bennett's BBQ.  I've been craving baby back ribs for a while now and there really is no place near us that I can think of that has them.  We walked in and were seated right away.  I ordered the jumbo baby back ribs with green beans and spicy mac & cheese.   Shawn had the Big Daddy meal with pulled pork, a couple baby back ribs, and two hog legs, and then the spicy mac and cheese and deep fried corn.  We both got the salad bar too and it came with soup.  They have a really delicious salad bar and then had a yummy cheesy cauliflower soup.  I was already full by the time our food came and when our server sat my plate of ribs down, I thought I was going to die.  That was the biggest rack of ribs I have ever seen!!  We both managed to eat a little bit of our food before completely over stuffing ourselves and needing to-go boxes.  

We walked to a souvenir store next to the restaurant to look around and I happened upon a smashed penny machine that I didn't know was there.  I always love when that happens!  Then we headed to Walmart, for the second time since we've here.  Shawn forgot to pack his nightclothes when we left Saturday so we had to get him some.  We also stopped at the leather store so Shawn could get him a new wallet.  His current wallet came from this store two years ago when we were in the area and it's seen better days so we he wanted to get a new one.

Our final stop on the way back to the hotel was for ice cream at our favorite ice cream shop in the area... Mad Dog Creamery.  They are scooping up a name brand ice cream, but it is so delicious and they give you the biggest scoops ever.  I remember the first year we found it, I'm pretty sure we stopped in there every night for ice cream!  Shawn had a single scoop of cookie dough in a cone, and I had a single scoop of half chocolate and half strawberry.  It definitely didn't disappoint and was just as yummy as I remembered it.

So another fun-filled and action packed day in the books for us.  I believe tomorrow we are going to head out on our day trip adventure to drive the Tail of the Dragon and explore the North Carolina side of the Smokies!


jimerado said...

Elkmont- ANOTHER site I have never been to in that great area! AND, I have never seen a bear in the wild! OK, and now I want some ribs too! GREAT PHOTOS!

Stacey Jessee Glenn said...

I had never knew about Elkmont either and we've been here 6 other times. And we saw a bear again today when we drove through Cades Cove! Thanks for the comment on the photos! :)