The Smokies are not so much smoky as rainy, at least in our experience. We have been to North America’s only true rainforest and seen only dry-as-a-bone conditions but every single time we go to the Smokies we get wet. On our first night I was awakened in my tent some time near 3:00 a.m. I lay there with two questions forming in my mushy, sleepy brain: “What is that awful loud sound and why am I getting wet?” The sound was a torrential downpour and the spray moistening my face (and sleeping bag and pillow) was rain coming in from where I had left the rain fly slightly open. Awesome.
But it gets better. I really had to pee. I mean bad. I lay there for at least 30 minutes trying to get back to sleep but between the racket of wind and water and my sensitive bladder (3 kids)(one was 9 lbs. 7 oz.) it was no use. We were conveniently camped a solid 200 yards from the toilets but in that kind of precipitation it may as well have been three miles. Every time I thought it was letting up and I could make a break for it the heavy downpour would start again. By 3:45 I was facing the serious potential for a heavy downpour of a different kind in my tent, if you get my drift. Also, by then my brain had come alive enough to realize that if I could find the car keys I could drive to the toilet house. So that is what I did.
But enough about pee. Let’s talk about Cade’s Cove. It’s extremely scenic and full of bears. I think we saw about six without hardly trying. There is a long loop drive that winds past preserved cabins and old churches and turkeys and bears up trees and tourists getting WAY too close to them (speaking of turkeys...). On Wednesday and Saturday mornings the loop drive is closed to automotive traffic and you can bike it at leisure. So we did. It was pretty excellent, especially as I was able to outpace my teenage son. Although in his defense I will add that he was riding a heavy mountain bike while I had my road bike, a steed built for speed.
After our time in the park we visited with relatives and friends in the North Carolina and Georgia area. We bounced on a trampoline and petted goats at my cousin’s house and went river tubing and relaxed at my parents’ cabin. We all got into chiggers and are STILL itchy. Overall, a most excellent trip and it felt so good to be back out on the road again, even if it was only for a short time.