Monday 7/1/13 we got up and around sort of early and was headed to Gatlinburg around 9am to walk around and do the tourist thing. Traffic was much lighter than Sunday night and the sidewalks were not overflowing into the streets like last night and the parking areas didn’t have “FULL” signs up yet so all was good.
We found a place to park a couple blocks off of the main drag,,, paid our $5 for all day parking and started our journey. All the shops were open,,, foot traffic was light but there certainly was some others out that probably had the same idea we did about getting out early.
Gatlinburg is a mountain resort town and is a very popular place because it borders the Great Smokey Mountain National Park along US441. US441 connects Gatlinburg to Cherokee North Carolina. Which we plan to do a day trip on Tuesday.
The town is bordered on all sides by mountains, Le Conte and Sugarland Mountain rising to the south, Cove Mountain to the west, Big Ridge to the northeast and the Grapeyard Ridge to the east. So it is a very picturesque place.
We wandered around, poking our heads in a few shops along the way. We found a nice little area that had a coffee shop and grabbed a donut and a cup of coffee while we sat at a table outside and people watched a bit.
Then as we walked a little more we came across a small cabin that once belonged to Martha Jane Ogle. It was the first house built in what’s now Gatlinburg in 1807.
While walking through the cabin and chatting with the lady sitting inside we were told that we HAD to eat at the Pancake House. And it just so happens that we walked past the Pancake House just a few minutes prior and the line was out the door and part way down the street. Hmmm,,, could all of those people toured the old Ogle house and talked to that same lady??!!?? Naaaaaaa LOL.
After the cabin we stayed steady on our path of touring town. Popping in here and there but once again we bought absolutely nothing,,, nada, zilch. Nothing but that cup of coffee and donut earlier. Which by that time was pretty much non existent in our systems so we figured we better try that Pancake House before moving on.
Diane had a monster sandwich and I had a stack of pancakes. Both were great and I’ll go on record saying that those pancakes just might be the best I have ever had. It might be necessary to make another trip into that restaurant to try them again just to make sure LOL!!
By the time we finished eating and hit the street the crowds had rolled into the streets again and the place was hoppin!!! So we kept strolling until we ran across some life entertainment on the sidewalk just outside the Moonshine shop. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg is like a huge amusement park. There are tons of shops and places to eat as well as rides and shooting galleries, go cart tracks and so on and so on and so on.
We lollygagged around that area a bit and then headed for the Jeep.
From there we headed into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park for a stop to the visitor center. And it was another hum digger!! They had some great displays of wildlife. Everything from spiders to birds, snakes, lizards, fox, bear and even a boar. And the theater room was very large and comfortable and the short documentary was very good. A lot of effort when into the setup. And why should it be one of the best. The Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited National Park in the USA. The Grand Canyon is second with less than half the visitors as the Great Smoky Mountains. Incredible ?? Maybe but true.
BY the time we finished at the visitor center we were spent. We decided to take the Parkway bypass to skirt around Gatlinburg to avoid the crowd. We stopped at one overlook on the way.
And then we continued on. The speed limit is 35 to 45mph so we were just poking along until about 50 yard in front of us a BEAR jumped in the road in our lane and just looked at us as if to say,,,,, HEY,,,, want a picture LOL!!! As I was hitting the breaks to slow down and reaching for the camera that I normally have on the dash while out and about at the same time the bear decided it gave us enough chance to get ready and started running across the road. But I was fast enough to get this shot. Pretty cool!! That’s the first bear Diane has seen in the wild.
Well that made our day complete. We headed on home and kicked back the rest of the evening.
Tuesday we plan to drive through the Smoky National Park all the way into North Carolina and back. Should be some great scenery.