Roadtrip: Great Smoky Mountains

It’s day 4 of our road trip.  Today’s itinerary: explore the town of Asheville, then drive towards Nashville.

We spent the night at the Haywood hotel, a building converted from its orignal use as department store.  For authenticity, the elevators still announced “Fourth floor, children’s wear” ever time we returned to our room.  Pretty cheesy, we thought.  Ours was one of the smaller rooms, but I estimated it was close to 600 sq. ft., nearly as big as our first house.

We had a decent breakfast at the Early Girl Eatery and it didn’t take long for us to walk around Asheville.  It’s a pretty compact town, and there was nothing going on. If only we had been here a few weeks earlier.  The place would have been humming, literally, with Moogfest.

That’s it for Asheville.

There's a big sky in Dixie too.

There’s a big sky in Dixie too.

We had a blast driving with the top down along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We topped out at Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail.

Who is Clingman and why does he have a dome in the middle of the Great Smokies?

Who is Clingman and why does he have a dome in the middle of the Great Smokies?

There is a bizarre futuristic observation deck perched several km from the main road.  It’s a short walk (<1 km) from the parking lot, but the pitch is noticeable.  The path noticeably more crowded at the start than at the end.  They say that 90% of visitors to America’s national parks never venture more than 100 m from their cars.

Alt-dome

Alt-dome

On the way down, we passed a guy who said this was his 4th visit to the top in 30 years, and this was his first time with blue skies and a view.  Had we come a few weeks earlier, there would have been no view, and we would have been trudging through a metre of snow, as Hurricane Sandy completely messed up the normal weather patterns.

A better angle on the dome

A better angle on the dome

We spent the night in Knoxville, host city for the 1982 World’s Fair.  Had some barbecue at Calhoun’s on the river, but to be honest it was just a place to sleep.

Tomorrow we’re going to Nashville!

On the mountain roads

On the mountain roads

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