Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is the scenic overlook on US 441, where the highway tops out as it crosses these great Smoky Mountains. The elvation here is something over 5,000 ft.

I was looking off to the southwest when I took this picture.

this is the beginning of the drive as you enter the Smoky Mountain National Park from Gatlinburg, TN. It is beautiful.

Gatlinburg is a touristy place, right at the entrance to the Smoky Mountain National Forest. It looked like a place where you park and walk about from shop to shop, but we kept on our way, wanting to find a suitable place in western North Carolina before the day's end, so we would have only one more day for our drive into Bedford, Virginia, our destination.

We didn't go to the Dollywood theme park, but we did drive by the entrance and up the steep, steep hill above the park to a place that calls itself the Garden of Elen and parrot petting zoo.

These large parrots are supposed to talk, sing and dance for you. They were making their familier shrieking noises when we arrived and took a picture from the parking lot. We didn't see any dancing, or hear any singing or talking. Maybe they were waiting for us to pay some money. We drove on down the hill and headed for Gatlinburg.

Like Branson, Pidgeon Forge sports its own Titanic show place.

Wednesday, April 27, we found a comfortable room at one of the many, many hotels tht serve the visitors that flock to Dollywood and the surrounding attractions that exist in the nearby towns of Pidgeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg.

We drove about, but did not partake of the entertainments that are offered here. The Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Theatre woulld be representative of the many that line the main road through these three towns.

As we traveled toward Knoxville on Wednesday, April 27, we decided to take a look at Dollywood, located in Pidgeon Forge on the edge of the Smoky Mt National Forest. The storm clouds continue to gather as we drove along, but no serious storm overtook us.

We saw many lovely farms and homesteads on this journey toward the Smoky Mountain country.

Wednesday, April 27, we stayed on the local highways, avoiding the heavy traffic of the Interstate, as we traveled toward the Knoxville area. A yellow flower can be seen on the meadow grasses and fields as we passed through the rural farm lands of this south Tennessee region.

Wind and heavy rain passed through the Chattanoga area Tuesday night, after we were safe and snug in our hotel. We thought we would visit some of the natural wonders and historic sites the next morning (Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, Rock City, Missionary Ridge, etc.). We found the exists to these locations blocked on the Interstate, due to damage, downed trees and debris. Reports of more threatening weather and tornado activity prompted us depart Chattanoga and head toward Knoxville instead.

I took this picture Tuesday evening as I stepped out of a small Chinese restaurant with a to-go order to take back to the hotel. The rays of the setting sun illuminated a thunderhead east of this Lookout Mountain community near Chattanoga.