North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains - July 2011
We left home after work on Friday July 8th at 6:30.  At about 1:00 am 30 miles north of Knoxville, TN climbing a really long mountain, something went terribly wrong with my Dodge.  The speedometer quit working & it was making a noise in the rear end.  Stopped at the next exit at a truck stop & spent the night in the parking lot.  Clinton found a mechanic to look at it & he thought it was the rear end, but they didn't have the parts so we drove to the Dodge dealer in Knoxville.  Unloaded the motorcycle & unhitched the trailer & they took the truck in right away to fix.  We decided to make the
best of it & took off site seeing on the motorcycle after we had some lunch.  We headed towards the Smokey Mts & the Cades Cove area.  We had a relaxing visit/ride not thinking about the truck.  Back at the dealership, the truck is finished, but still making a noise.
They are confident we will make our destination in Cherokee (4 hrs away) & then back home.  We arrive at the Flaming Arrow Campground at 9:30 pm.  And because we arrived so late, the owner couldn't get us backed into our reserved spot so we got a much nicer bigger spot all by ourselves.  What a weekend....let the vacation begin...........
Sunday we woke to a beautiful day.  After rearranging the trailer in our campsite & breakfast, we headed into Cherokee to explore.
Monday we headed towards TN along route 28 that skirts the Smokey Mt National Park.  Route 28 is also known as "Hellbender"
We stop at Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern US at 480'.  Next stop, Deals Gap & the beginning of the "Tail of the Dragon", which follows Rt 129 into Tn & is 11 miles with 318 curves.  The weekend prior, 2 people were killed on this road.  It was pretty scary in the beginning.  Whew....what a ride!!! 
Tuesday - Mingus Mill site seeing, just west of Cherokee.  Then onto Cades Cove in the western area of the Smokey Mt National Park.
And talk about a traffic nightmare.  On the way into Cades Cove a black bear was in the woods close to the road & there were soooo many people stopped along the road taking pictures.  Wow!!  It was crazy.  And it didn't get any better on that 11 mile ONE WAY loop.  There are specific pull offs to gawk, but people would just stop any where.  Which is not good on an air cool motorcycle.  So what should have been a nice site seeing adventure was one of the most frustrating rides ever.  We did have a nice hike about 1/2 way thru the loop at a trail to Abrams Falls.  It is 5 miles roundtrip.  And to get more exercise, we jogged about half of it.  The reward, was a water fall to cool off in.  We don't normally like to be out on the bike after dark, but ended up at Clingman's Dome at dusk & stayed for the sunset.
Wednesday - rain in the morning....pouring down rain.  But then it cleared up & no clouds. We chilled out at the campground, went swimming.  That evening we went to see the outdoor drama, "Unto These Hills"
Thursday went hiking at Deep Creek near Bryson City.  This is also a popular tubing area.  This trail system has 3 waterfalls located in the area......Juney Whank falls, Tom Bridge falls & Indian Creek falls.  The hike started out with perfect weather.  About half way on our 5 mile hike we could hear thunder.  About a 1/2 mile left the clouds opened up & it was pouring.  Stopped in Bryson City at a quaint little coffee shop to warm up.
Friday - up early to head home.  With the rear end issues of the truck, we decided to keep any extra weight out of the trailer while driving thru the mountains, so Clinton rode the bike & I drove the truck.  And we decided to drive right over the mountains instead of the 4 hr trip going around.  But it was so dang foggy, and we left early enough we didn't have any other traffic.
We just loved the area around Cherokee....I wonder how much snow they get.  ;)
We arrive at Cumberland Falls area & a campground.  With the full moon, I am hoping to take some photos of the moonbow over the falls.  But it wasn't to was cloudy.
Saturday morning - leave for home.  And then we stop at the Ford dealer to check on a new truck & to trade in the Dodge. 
Which didn't happen that day, but eventually we got a bigger truck so no more problems hauling the trailer.  But now we need a bigger trailer.