|The Lodge at Buckberry Creek|
At 8:30am we got on the road and immediately had to return home to get Ann's purse. That was the only little hitch in our long ride south that proved uneventfully boring. We started with leaves just starting to bud out on the trees at home and hit fairly full leaves by Roanoke. Aside from lots of white dogwoods, swaths of yellow blooming cress in the medians, and thousands of tent caterpillar tents, there wasn't a whole lot to look at zooming down the interstate.
|Road Food: Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches|
Late afternoon, after crossing the Virginia-Tennessee border at Bristol, we continued down 81 until it seamlessly merged into I-40 heading into Knoxville. We hung a left just shy of Knoxville on US-441 heading through first Sevierville and then Pigeon Forge on the way to Gatlinburg. Although I had read a little bit about the stretch of 441 heading into Gatlinburg, nothing prepared me for the "Holy Putt Putt, Batman!" experience that is the 15-miles of tourist hell leading up to the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I just don't have words to describe the abuse that has been inflicted upon the landscape on this stretch of highway.
|Trees, A Sight for Sore Eyes; Leaving Tourist Hell|
|Viewing Mt. LeConte from our Balcony|
After checking in and making a dinner reservation for the following evening, we tried a quick nap, but though tired from the road, neither of us could sleep. So we decided to hike down the hill to the creek below, just to get a little walk in. On the way down the hill we saw a trail to an overlook, so we followed it a few hundred feet to find a circular opening in the trees overlooking exactly nothing. It was proving to be quite warm, in the mid 80s, and we were getting hot.
|Awesome Pavilion by the Creek|
|First of Many Dwarf Crested Iris|
|Chorizo, Soppressata, Grayson Cheese, and Barolo|