It started out with a simple gem mining expedition and turned into a 260 mile day trip!
As according to our plan for the day we went to our favorite gem mine. We chose to do the new fossil buckets and if I'm honest, it was slightly disappointing. There were some shells, sharks teeth and "mineral deposits", next year we'll got back to the traditional gem buckets! The boys still had a blast playing with dirt, water and rocks!
Afterwards Jed and I were talking and thought that since were already close to Waynesville and the Blue Ridge Parkway, lets just go there! We got subs in town and headed to one of our favorite stops on the parkway to eat. Of course this was the day that the Smoky's held true to their name, we were sitting in a cloud with no view.
The Smoky Mountains, name sake.
We finished lunch and drove on, hoping to wait out the fog. As we drove we kept saying to ourselves, "We're already here, let just keep going!" This went on and on and we ended up in Tennessee and then Cades Cove, which I had been wanting to visit since our first trip to the mountains!
It cleared up a bit, perfect time for a group shot!
Isla's a fan of the Blue Ridge!
The drive through Cades Cove is a one way single lane road with pull offs along the way. This bear didn't take into consideration the pull off areas when he chose the a tree to nap in so we were trapped in a traffic jam for 45 minutes while everyone got out to take their pictures.
We waited so long, that Evan and I got out and walked half a mile to the bear and waited for Jed to meet us. While we were waiting a larger bear appeared out in the field behind us. It was very exciting... at first. We were surrounded by a group of people, there were cars around us and a rope between us and the field. As Evan and I watched the bear, it began to dawn on me that there was nothing stopping either of the two bears from attacking us, if the impulse struck, not that I thought it would but I still realized how foolish it was to be out, with no way to protect myself. Fortunately both bears were more interested in napping, than finding dinner.
Jed finally made it through the long line of cars, we let the kids look at the bear, before heading out.
We considered getting dinner in Gatlinburgh but changed our mind when everything was swamped with tourists and parking was $15!
We drove home, enjoying the beautiful sunsets on our way. We grabbed McDonald's in a small town along the way and got home around 10.
It was a crazy, fun, beautiful, day!