Another long, busy day!
We started the day early in the morning, but obviously not early enough cause we were running out of daylight to do all that we had planned!
We had just gotten past downtown Gatlinburg heading towards Cherokee and Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina when we noticed alot of people at a pull-off looking up in the trees. Knowing that it was probably a bear, we asked someone and they said there was a momma bear and her baby bear sitting up on the ledge. I pulled that car over and got out to take pictures too. I couldn't believe it! A momma bear and her baby! I told Shawn the day before that I was excited about finally seeing a bear earlier in the week at Cades Cove, but now I wanted to see a momma bear and her cubs, and I also was hoping to see a bear in a tree. Both of those were answered at this pull-off cause just down from the momma and baby on the ledge, there was another baby bear in the tree. Uber-excited!
After seeing the bears for a few minutes, we were back on the road headed to Cataloochee Valley. We stopped at quite a few pull-offs for pictures and to see the amazing scenery. I also snapped a few pictures of the tunnels while driving down the road. Another perfect day of beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine!
We've never been to Cataloochee Valley before, but I've heard good things about it and wanted to go the last few times we've been in the Smokies. I had us up early this morning, but the drive took alot longer than I remember it was going to when I was planning. We also missed the turn for the road to Cataloochee and had to get on the interstate and drive about 5 miles before we could exit and turn around and drive 5 miles back to the road we needed. The road was a narrow one lane gravel road up the mountain, and then back down the mountain to the valley, and there was traffic going on it in both directions. There were times you had to back up to let other cars by, or pull over the best you could and stop so the other car could go by. You definitely have to pay attention when driving this road!
While the valley was nice, it definitely wasn't as much as I was expecting. I'm glad we did it, but we probably won't do it again. We toured a schoolhouse, a church, and an old homestead and barn. There was other buildings on the property, but you have to hike trails to get to them. And it was neat seeing all the elk and hearing them bugle.
Shawn was wanting to golf at Sequoia National Golf Club, but by the time we would be getting to the golf course, they were really busy and we were running out of time. We'll have to save that for our next vacation to the Smokies.
I had wanted to get some chicken from KFC for lunch and have a picnic in the park, but Shawn didn't want to. I had researched any places to eat in Cherokee so we choose The Little Princess for lunch. They had a lunch buffet so we opted for that. There was fried chicken, Salisbury steak, chicken livers, beanie weenies, and then mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, fried okra, and then a big salad bar and soup. It was pretty good food, but my favorite was definitely the beanie weenies. HAHA!
We stopped in a couple souvenir shops and looked around, and I got me a couple smashed pennies. It was close to 5:30 p.m. and some of the places I wanted to visit were already closed, so we just ended up heading back towards Gatlinburg. We had to pass by one of the visitor centers and there was a major elk jam! We pulled off on the side of the road and watched the elk for a few minutes. I've definitely never seen so many elk at one time!
We stopped at a few more pull-offs along the way. The views were so amazing!
Once we got back into Pigeon Forge, we went shopping at the 3 Bears Gift Shop, and then we had a late night dinner at Big Daddy's Pizza, and then an even later late night snack at Mad Dog's Creamery!