Monday, August 19, 2013

The Great Smoky Mountains, Part 1: Porter's Creek Hike and Cades Cove

What is the best vacation you've ever taken? We've gotten to do some pretty cool things on our Hawaiian vacations the past few years, but our trip to Smoky Mountains National Park might have just topped them all. Not only was the scenery absolutely stunning and magical, but it was super-relaxing -- and best of all, we got to bring Conan! If you're taking a trip to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and want to bring your pet, we'd highly recommend renting The Chocolate Moose cabin!
We stopped in Corbin, Kentucky, for dinner on our way from Ohio to Tennessee. We ate at Sonny's Barbeque (where the drive-thru guy gave Conan four free ribs just for being handsome!) but we couldn't resist checking out the first KFC.
 The first day of our vacation, the three of us piled into the car and drove around the national park. We packed a picnic lunch and ate by the river.
 Conan got to further his education at historic Little Greenbrier School.
Conan and Daddy adventuring.
 A view of Gatlinburg. You can't help but think the view would be somewhat enhanced without all those shops and hotels!
 Heading to Greenbrier, to do the Porter's Creek hike. I love this picture... and even though there's no fork in the road and this path is fairly well traveled, it reminds me of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken."
 The trail followed the river most of the way.
 We saw all kinds of strange and lovely fungi...
 ...and lots of these tie-dye leaves! I pressed several in the library book I brought along.
 The Porter's Creek hike ends at this nice little waterfall, Fern Branch Falls. It also took us past a barn from the late 1800s, a 1930s cabin and an old cemetery.
 On the third day, we drove Cades Cove. We stopped at this pretty little waterfall just off the road on the way there. And, of course, all the other people there oohed and ahhed at our adorable boy!
 There are several historic structures in Cades Cove.
 And lots of stunning scenery.
 After our Cades Cove trip, Jarrod threw his line in the river while Conan and I lounged on the bank. He didn't catch anything that time, but he did hook five rainbow trout throughout the trip.
 Everything is so green and moss-covered and enchanting. This tree looked like a perfect home for a fairy or a gnome.
 Apparently summer in the Smokies is the time to see a gazillion butterflies. They were everywhere!

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