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).