We did not go to the Lost Sea, although we passed many signs for it
We did not go to this place.
And as appealing as it might have been, we did not go here.
No, we headed off to a jewel of the Great Smokies, Cades Cove. But first - getting there. We tried to go one way, only to find that US Route 129 was shut down. This must have disappointed more than a few bikers.
Before we turned off from the broken 129, we passed this gorgeous lake.
Then we headed up the Foothills Parkway, where we saw these terrific sweeping vistas. Do you see why the mountains are called the Smokies? (Really - this photo is straight out of my camera.)
We finally reached Cades Cove. If you've never been and you're in this part of the world, GO. It's lovely, a jewel. You drive roads twisting though the forest primeval, then come out in the lovely valley (or cove).
Then you take an 11 miles loop through the valley on a self guided tour, with stops on the way for trails or interesting buildings that the original settlers built.
Here's the first cabin on the loop, the John Oliver cabin. It was up the trail a bit. Sixteen people lived in this two story house. (That's Curly on the porch.)
And here's the view from the front porch of the cabin. Wowee. I'd live there too.
Back down the trail - Curly is ahead of Moe. (More forest primeval.)
Here's the local Methodist church (that's Moe and Curly heading up to it). It was surprisingly large inside.
One of many vistas on the drive. Really, it's a gorgeous place.
One of the neat parts of Cades Cove is that they have restored whole farms, with all the out-buildings. This is the biggest one, the Cable farm.
Near the big barn, they had folks demonstrating a ton of old toys. This guy was having a blast showing kids how to have fun with these old toys. Here, he's loading a reed with a hard berry. He'd poke a stick in the other end hard, and the berry would POP out, pow! What fun!
Moe was fascinated. This toy had the guys going back and forth, blamming on the wood.
They also had farm equipment, which Curly tried out.
The grounds have a ton of outbuildings and equipment, including a blacksmith's shop, a mill, and a sorghum press. This is the mill, which works. They were grinding cornmeal.
There was also a neat house on the property. I liked the house a lot. There is a front porch, but there was something about the back of the house that I really liked.
A good day was had by all. We were all beat by the end of the tour, partly by the heat. The high was predicted to be 96, which isn't as bad as some folks have had, but it's bad when you're hiking up trails. The Stooges were pretty quiet on the drive back to the hotel.
I love the forest. Having grown up in the mountains, they feel safe and restful to me. The woods are lovely, dark and deep....
Tomorrow - another park, then home!