On our way back from Atlanta, we decided to cruise through the Smoky Mountains. As we drove through a cloud along the Appalachian Highway, the road suddenly dead ended into a fireworks playground. It was strange, but magical. Then, little did we know that once we arrived to the Smokies, there would be vomit-inducing tourist traps on either sides of the mountain expressway. On the southern side, we saw the exploitation of Cherokee culture. Maybe exploitation is the wrong word... They are, in fact, there by their own will. But the carnival-like barrage was sort of unsettling to us. The street signs were kind of cool, though.
So then we set off into the mountains, where the rain poured and the wickedly cold wind roared. There were some gorgeous views. Mandy tried to do a "no rain" dance to make the experience less frigid. It didn't work.
On the other side, relieved to be headed home, we were hit with another shock. Dollywood?! Oh, yes. We had no idea this Branson-wanna-be was in such close proximation to a national treasure like the Smokies. And Gatlinburg! We thought it was a historic town. Whoever told us that needs a swift boot to the rear. Why is it the American way to destroy everything we have right up to our National Park borders? Obviously, we drove through as quickly as we could, marveling at all the pancake houses. Do you really need hundreds of them?
The coolest thing we got to see was the Olympic Slalom trainers on the Nantahala River, outside the Smokies.
We also saw a big rig stuck in the ditch, a suped-up dune buggie, a motorcycle for giants, and a car eaten by kudzu.
All in all, it was a pretty good trip! Click here to see full-size photos: The Smokies