Larry & Cheryl's 2010 Travels travel blog

Lovely North Carolina farmland

Shady rural backroands

All the churches in the South have their own cemeteries

Corn is growing high everywhere

Lush green produce fields of tomatoes and melons

Beginning to see industry

We finally made it to the Interstate

We passed one of Freightliner's factories

Cement & brick factory

The Smoky Mountains starting to show on the horizon

We are traveling the piedmonts leading to the Smokies

We climbed & descended, and wound around the foothills.

Passing through Pisgah National Forest

More of North Carolina's yellow daylillies on the Interstate

This fellow pulled in front of us and we both thought that...

Interstate 40 into the mountains

Cherokee National Forest

Descending a twisting curvy highway

Lots of curves and lovely mountains

The Interstate even tunneled thru the mountain

Road crews installing a chain mesh to stop rocks from falling on...

Welcome to Tennessee

Here we come. . .

Crossing Douglas Lake

They want to make sure you know where you're going

We haven't see billboards for months

We were startled when we entered town to see all the attractions...

Huge water slide attached to a hotel

Old church steeple poked above the rest of the shops

Welcome to Pigeon Forge

Upside down building is Wonderworks, like a hands on science museum, and...

They even have the Titanic Dinner Theater

. . . with it's attached iceburg

This is one of the most popular stores

More kid attractions

Gaudy tourist shop with surfing theme

Lovely tree lined road between Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg

Entering Gatlinburg

More attractions, here a miniture golf place

Crazy store fronts and restaurants

. . . even a Hard Rock Cafe

Older part of city has an Alpine look, complete with flower baskets

Several Guinness and Ripley attractions around town

More frontier and alpine theme buildings

Arcades on every block

One of the "Tunes & Tales" groups

The Gatlinburg Elks own the whole plaza

. . . with the Elks Lodge upstairs looking down on the...

Since we were close enough to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we headed off to take Interstate 40 up and around to the Tennessee side. I looked into campgrounds on the North Carolina side and they were mostly forest with no electricity, which in this heat would be miserable.

We left our lovely little town of Salisbury and traveled on shady rural roads for a while through farmland seeing lots produce such as corn, tomatoes & melons. There were plenty of small churches, all with their own cemetery, as we have seen in the country sections of the south. As we neared the Interstate we began to see more industry, passing one of the Freightliner factories, a cement and brick factory and others.

Then the Smokies started to show on the horizon and we began a series of climbs & descents of the piedmonts leading to the mountains. We passed through the Pisgah National Forest, and later part of Cherokee National Forest. Going thru the mountains we were slowed a little by road work closing down all but one lane while they were placing chain mesh on a rocky cliff to hold back falling rocks.

We entered Tennessee and headed toward Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Smoky Mtn. Nat'l Park, crossing the long Douglas Lake. We were greeted by dozens of billboard, like we haven't seen in months. Entering Severville and neighboring Pigeon Forge we could believe our eyes. This is a MAJOR family vacation hot spot, not just the gateway to a Nat'l Park. The whole town of Pigeon Forge is gear for family (children's) fun and spending lots of money on entertainment. Water slides, go-cart Race Tracks, Amusement Rides, Dinner Theaters, restaurants, Outlet stores, gimmicky shops, "surf" shops, and multiple places owned by Ripley (believe it or not!). It looked alike "Las Vegas for Kids".

We set up in our site, which was probably the camp host spot (again) with it's nice concrete pad and a covered patio with chairs behind, right next to the office and across from the pool which we used right away.

After dinner we drove to Gatlinburg, closer to the Nat'l Park entrance and built in a gorge. This town was even more attractions and shops, only tightly packed in this little gorge. Luckily there is a tram system between the 2 towns the is only $.50 in one town to the hub, and $.50 in the next town. They even came into our campground every 45 minutes. We suffered through the thick, slow moving traffic in the narrow streets until we found the Elks Lodge and then tried to find parking that didn't cost $$$.

The Gatlinburg Elks own a shopping plaza with a court in the center where entertainers were singing and playing old time mountain music. During the summer the whole of Gatlinburg has a summer-long even called "Tunes & Tales". There were musicians and storytellers throughout Gatlinburg. Anyway, the upstairs part of the plaza was the Elks Lodge with a view of the street. We enjoyed chatting with the members, and their police was a visiting Elk doesn't pay for the first two drinks (which is cool because 2 is Cheryl's limit).

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