A day of real contrasts. We started by driving past Knoxville to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The Visitors’ Center was closed as of today, thanks to those folks in Congress whose name evokes a hot beverage. We were very lucky to still find some toilet paper in the restrooms further up on the mountain. Seriously, tomorrow would have been too late.
Politics aside, this is a stunning part of the world, and photos can’t do it justice or give you a whiff of that fresh mountain air. You want to take big gulps and just stare at the vista.
Coming down the mountain, you hit the town of Gatlinburg. Wow, suddenly you are trading majesty for kitsch. Of course, maybe there is some sort of majesty in seeing every silly diversion in America jammed onto one long street. It has a boardwalk, country-fair, amusement-park quality, complete with fudge, rides up and down the mountain, a version of the Space Needle, hot sauce, and lots of taffy – here known as “taffy logs.” Does anyone really need a beef jerky outlet?
We’ve been travelling in such quiet places for so long that the congestion is hard to take. Can you guess what we are doing tomorrow? Gatlinburg ain’t nothing compared to what’s coming…