Published: September 18th 2011September 10th 2011
Nice man shame about the couch and cockroaches...
We were both looking forward to getting back to nature as we were missing our long walks, and Jell had talked a lot about how nice the Smokies were so were trying desperately to stay positive, although, it was difficult as our morale is pretty low at the moment. We are finding it difficult to keep going as travelling a lot has started to become hard work which is difficult for others to understand as we should be having a blast not having to work etc but not knowing where we are going to lay our head every night and cooking meals in one pan is wearing thin!
Anyway, less of the moaning and more of what we have actually been doing; we made it to our next couch-surfers late evening as we had stopped to do a nice walk on the way to his house in Knoxville. Don was a nice enough guy but his home was just a tad on the un-hygienic side we were only there 20 minutes before we made our excuses and headed out of their for the rest of the night and went and treated ourselves to ice cream sundae’s – we needed it
Some ridiculous stuff in here
as we felt at rock bottom… We probably should have just got a motel but I had left some of our things at Don’s and we felt bad so we had a very smelly and poor night sleep.
We were out of their first thing and we headed towards Pigeon Forge stopping for pancake breakfast on the way – another treat for us which again, we felt was much deserved. We stopped at a factory outlet to pick up a few bargains and after our day of treats felt a little better. There was a car rally at Pigeon Forge and the place was like Blackpool on steroids – horrible!! We drove through as quick as we could and made it into the National Park at night fall, we thought we might struggle to find a camp spot but we shared with an Indian family and slept like babies that night.
We felt refreshed that morning and glad to be away (talk about mood swings – like teenagers again) and we set out to go on the 1 mile loop walk to the Observatory; the views of the surrounding mountains were beautiful, the only thing spoiling the view
was Pigeon Forge a big sprawling mass of commercialism – nice! After that walk we went on to walk the trail to Andrew’s Bald as recommended by Dan the guy we couch surfed with in Nashville. It was a lovely walk and we had a picnic overlooking Andrew’s Bald and we got talking to an English couple who we were exchanging funny Americanisms with!! There were a few signs around warning of recent aggressive bear activity so we stayed alert, well I did, as 10 minutes later, Dim walked right out in front of a bear who was stood by the side of a tree, (literally 1 metre from where Dim was) waiting to cross our trail on our way back up. I spotted her and said to Dim to carry on walking which made him turn around and look the bear straight in the eyes!! I backed off a bit and Dim carried on and she crossed the path – she was so so close, seconds later (and when Dim wasn’t looking; much to his dismay) a baby cub crossed too; it was so sweet but we were lucky as Mother bears are notorious for being aggressive when they
It was so busy here, but some great oldskool cars
have cubs with them but despite our adrenaline going mad, it was an amazing encounter that we will both never forget.
Giddy after this we made our way out of the car park and toward a short nature trail. There was a car just stopped in the middle of the road and when I looked he was viewing a bear in a tree – check out Dim’s amazing picture he caught of it; 2 encounters in one day – crazy!! In the afternoon we drove over Blue Ridge Parkway; a scenic drive and stopped in a town where there was a biker festival on. We set up camp and went out for a few drinks; it was Saturday night after all and got talking to a biker guy about football; we had a few drinks and laughs before retiring to the campsite where we gorged on Ravioli and chips mmmm… this was a good day.
In the morning we both felt a bit flat again and after speaking with Kel-lou on her birthday (Happy Birthday again luv!) we felt even worse. We went for a really long walk on this side of the park and it was a
Probably the last Park
good one, although we did get soaked through in a huge rain storm. We had a long chat about what we should do with the rest of our time and decided that we probably just need to go somewhere for a few weeks to have a base as it’s the constant travelling and sightseeing that we are losing interest in so we will explore our options. That afternoon we drove to Ashville to our next couch-surfers house; it was nice not to be camping and we were feeling more positive by the end of the day phew……
There are more photos below