Woke up to the sound of songbirds… very comforting. Was preparing breakfast when I thought Debra was returning from the bathroom. Nope. Two deer came running through the campsite. I thought they would attack me.
After packing up, we continued our drive through Shenendoah on our way to Great Smoky Mountain NP. The sights were equally as impressive as the night before.
As we approached the GSM region, I was so angered by the level of commercial eyesores for the fifteen miles leading up to the park. If you can imagine the most random entertainment experiences that could be conjured up, I’m positive they already exist in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I understand how the world works with commercialism, but in such close proximity to such natural beauty has always been a frustration of mine for as long as I’ve been visiting the parks. When we managed to enter the park, we were greeted by rain that kept up company for several hours. Despite the precipitation, we set up camp, drove up the mountain, stopped at numerous turnouts, and even hiked to the highest point in the park. It was breathtaking, especially the “smoke” that rose from the trees, which I suspect would not have been
as prevalent without the rain.
After a soggy start, we hiked to a beautiful waterfall in the park. Afterwards, we drove west in the park, continuing to take lots of photos. As we were getting close to leave, we were able to pull over with many other people to view wildlife in its wonderful form. Bears were in the area, and we were able to see them close up. Quite incredible! Afterwards, we took an unconventional route out of the park. I drove for 7 miles on an unpaved, primitive gravel mountain pass road @ 15 mph the whole way. It made me think of the explorers and early visitors to the national park who did not have the convenience of the modern amenities. (We were both relieved when we made it back to civilization.)
At night, we explored Nashville. Having been here before, the experience seemed almost identical to the first. Overall, very good people watching. When we were having a beverage at a local establishment, a waitress dropped a plate and it shattered nearby. As a result, we struck up a conversation with the guys sitting next to us. Turns out, one of the guys worked at Cortland for fifteen years. We knew many of the same people. It is always alarming at how small the world really is. The other guy informed us that he is a dean of a CUNY college. He gave Debra his contact information if she ever felt interested in exploring various program options. Moments like these confirm my belief that people who are willing to help others are more prevalent than those who are willing to do harm. It left me feeling good about the world.
Final random thoughts:
Is safety in the eye of the beholder?
Did someone play a cruel joke?