25 July 2005

Cades Cove

Yesterday we visited Cade's Cove in Tennessee with friends and their parents, sister and cousins. We started out by meeting some of them locally at about 10:30am and went to meet the husband, his parents, sister and cousins at a water rafting place. We all shared ourselves across three cars and bravely trusting my GPS thingy we started off.
Travelling on Route 129 meant crossing the mountain on a section of road called "The Dragon" appropriately named after the many twists and turns matching the scales on a dragon's tail. At the Southern end of the bendy bit is "Tail of the Dragon" with a rest stop. Many motorcyclists enjoy the windy road but as a warning to all travellers there is a large tree with parts of bikes "slain by the dragon". This site has more details.
We actually thought the road was quite well made compared to the roads we were used to on Macquarie Pass between Moss Vale and Wollongong, NSW.
Our navigating went well until we started going on narrower and more remote roads. The sign "Dead End" was a giveaway that my GPS may not have been completely accurate. The road DID get to Cades Cove but unfortunately it was only for hikers. So we had arrived about 10 miles from where we wanted to go and had to go about 30 more miles to go the way everyone else does.
Cades Cove is a national park based on the the original Cades Cove township and has lots of nature and old buildings from the mid 19th century. The central piece for most people is the 11 mile one way single lane path which travellers can follow seeing the sites. There are places to stop and have a closer look, but there is plenty of wildlife which is completely unfazed by the traffic and interest. There is no hunting here! As you can see by the photo, this deer was content to nibble at the grass whilst a steady stream of cars stopped and passed within a couple of feet. The other cars also were able to spot a bear.
Our air conditioning still isn't working correctly and temperatures were around 100F (37-38C) so we were pretty hot. We moved some of the children to the other cars and we had two of their older boys in the back of ours. Maybe the heat started getting to us all but by the end we were singing loudly to the Numa Numa song and Wierd Al Yankovic songs. Also every time the GPS lost satellite reception (due to heavy overhead tree cover) we had a competition for the first to yell "Opa!" - in the same way that was done in "My big fat Greek wedding".
We finally arrived home at 12:45am - very tired, sweaty and glad to be home.

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