Southern Comfort: Cades Cove with a dose of Mellow Mushroom

After a wonderful first day traveling down to the Smoky Mountains, we visited one of its jewels – Cades Cove.  Emily was so excited to go she woke us up an hour and a half before dawn to make sure we entered right at sunrise.  While I groggily made my way out of bed, she was bouncing up and down on the couch.  Her excitement was rewarded by the sun slowly revealing a foggy landscape dotted with grazing deer (Photos below).

As we mentioned earlier, we were really happy we stayed in Townsend because it was quiet.  An added bonus was that it was located right next to Cades Cove, allowing us to queue up and enter the park as it opened.  While waiting in line, we walked down to the grazing horses that didn’t seem bothered by cold morning.  A little further into the park, we came upon a herd of deer grazing.  We also witnessed two small bucks practicing sparring skills with their antlers.  After witnessing their aggression, we agreed we do not want to go head-to-head with an angry buck.

Further along the loop, the road continued to wind through foggy fields and old-growth forests.  At one point we almost came across a bear, but he somehow slipped into the forest.  After this near encounter, we circled back on one of the access roads.  This road was slightly below field level, allowing the spider webs to glitter with dew in the rising sun. On our second pass of the loop, we veered off to the trailhead for Abrams Falls.

Abrams Falls is a small waterfall hidden a couple miles back in the woods.  While it was only 9 am, the day was already warm and we set off with a lot of water.  Along the way, we took a break to dip our feet in the river.  All of the sudden, I was shocked by Emily screaming.  In reality, she was shrieking with joy due to the presence of a couple of river otters playing in the moving water.  They are cute and shy little critters so we were lucky to even catch a glimpse of them.  Once we arrived at the falls, we relaxed for a little while before heading back.  At that point, we decided it was too hot to spend too much time outside – it was above 90 with 90% humidity.

We decided to head over to Pigeon Forge to take in some of the ‘sights.’  Basically, this town is a strip amusement park.  It’s rather kitschy, being basically a six-lane highway lined with restaurants, go-cart tracks, gift shops, Dolly Parton, and other amusements.  We decided to play mini-golf.  The course was on a hillside and we actually rode an incline up to the first hole.  After dinner Emily took me to a Southern institution – Mellow Mushroom.  She had been raving about their pretzels and pizza for years. Being a person who eats a lot of pizza a pizza connoisseur, I was happy to try it myself.

Here are some highlights of Cades Cove and afterwards, but there are more photos on SmugMug.

Grazing horses

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~ by Rob Page III on November 13, 2011.

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