First of all I’d like thank those commenters and emailers that were punctual in correcting me on how I displayed the Stars and Stripes. Seems I had the field of blue with stars pointing the wrong direction. I’m thinking my 8th grade teacher is probably rolling over in her grave. In order to pass 8th grade, all students in Chicago had to pass a flag test. I passed it, but apparently my memory kind of fuzzed over the last 53 years. My daughter, the Sergeant First Class, ret., gave me a great way of remembering which way to hang the flag. When you are facing the flag that is hanging on a wall or flat surface, the stars should be on the left, over your heart. How appropriate. I was outside at 5:15 this morning correcting that error.
Yep, I set the alarm for 5:00 (groan) so Emma and I could get an earlier start to Cades Cove to beat the crowds. On a whim, I checked my email before I left, and lo and behold, Judi and Gene of Blue Roads to Hiking Trails had sent me a message. Judi had read my post from last night and wanted me to know that Cades Cove was closed to motorized vehicles on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00. Aw shucks!
Well, since my lunch was already packed, the car was loaded, and Emma could sense we were going off on an adventure, I decided to leave anyway and take my chances. Maybe they’d change the rules since it was the Fourth of July? Not a chance! As I neared the Cove and turned around to while away almost three hours, it seemed like about 8000 vehicles with bikes attached passed me by. In my mind I conjured up the sight of that famous bicycle race… The Toure de France (sp?). That did not bode well for my trip back at 10:00.
I just kind of drove around to kill some time. The park was certainly busy for so early in the morning, and the skies were the haziest I’d yet seen.
I stopped at the Metcalf Bottom's picnic area to use the facilities and discovered a short road across a bridge that led to the Little Greenbrier School. The final gravel road to this historic site was almost my undoing. It was awful! Thank goodness it was before 8:00, and I didn’t meet any other vehicles on this skinny, curvy, lumpy road. I also found it hard to believe that most of the picnic sites were already taken by this time in the morning.
Eventually I wormed my way back along Laurel Creek Road to the Cades Cove Loop. By this time I was getting pretty hungry since I’d had breakfast at 5:00. Well, forget about finding a picnic table.
I just found a shady pull out along the Loop, and ate in the car. I was astounded to find the traffic along this one way loop to be bumper to bumper. Kind of like being stuck in rush hour traffic in Chicago.
It’s an eleven mile loop, and it took me over two hours to do it. That wouldn’t normally matter to me one bit except I didn’t even try to stop at the historic buildings along the way. They were just crawling with humanity, and it was getting too hot to leave Emma in the car. (As with most National Parks, dogs are only allowed on the roads, in the parking lots, and the picnic areas.)
I even missed the turn off for a circuitous route on a road less traveled that I had thought to take back to the rig. To get back to that turnoff meant I would have had to go around more than half of the loop again, so I just gave up and returned the way I had come. There are several morals to this story. Don’t go to Cades Cove on a Wednesday or Saturday; definitely don’t do it if the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday or a Saturday; and next time I think I’d do it in April.
I also couldn’t believe the number of people ‘tubing’ the river on the exit road from the park. It was as crowded on the river as it was on the roads! Talk about lessons learned.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy