Rainy Day at Cade’s Cove

It was supposed to be a rainy day today (12/23/15)–and all week, actually–so we decided to take our chances and head into Cade’s Cove.  We love Cade’s Cove for all the beauty of the scenery, but also for all the wildlife we are able to see.  It is truly a beautiful drive.  Since we knew Hannah hadn’t been when she was in Gatlinburg last, and we knew how much she enjoys nature, we were looking forward to sharing the beauty with her.

 

Deer!

Thankfully, the rain held off, and we were able to hike around the trails and see some of the wildlife.  We encountered deer in several places and even some wild turkeys.  We especially kept our eyes open for bear.  Though we did not see one in person, a family we met at the visitor center had seen (and recorded, so we got to see pictures and videos!) a tiny bear cub.  He actually crossed the road in front of them!  They stayed with him for a while, once they noticed he had no mama, and later informed the park crew that he was there.  Because he was so small, they had guessed he was either abandoned as a runt or his mother had died.  Though we did not see him ourselves, it was neat to know that some visitors to the area had, so we will continue to hope the next time we come back.

 

The Sink

 

We finished up our time in the park with a visit to the sink.  This beautiful area was formed when earlier settlers dynamited a log jam.  It has experienced tourists since the 1800’s.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful with an incredible combination of strength and beauty.  Just an amazing place to experience!

On our way home, we decided to stop in several shops along the way.  There’s a phenomenal country store that allows visitors samples of everything from fudge to honey and pickled okra to barbecue sauce.  They easily have 100 samples, and it’s an incredible way to experience a variety of flavors and types of food all in one place. You can check out the virtual tour of the Moonshine Country Store at http://www.moonshine-ridge.com.

The workshop at The Front Porch Carvers

After the country store, we checked out our favorite wood carver, The Front Porch Carvers (now on Etsy!). We’ve stopped every time we’ve been in Gatlinburg.  Today, we got to speak to the owner and hear a little of his amazing life story from being all over the world in the Air Force (including in Berlin when the wall came down) to driving trucks, to real estate, to wood carving.  I love to hear people’s stories.  Michael shared both his story and his workshop.

When we got home, we prepared to go to the Dixie Stampede.  When we arrived, we first went to pre-show entertainment, which we really didn’t get to enjoy as the two tables next to us had several foreign families with both parents and kids who talked loudly through the whole show.  We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t know proper American conduct during performances.

Live Nativity

The actual show was an incredible experience.  The food was delicious, and the entertainment boasted a great variety of singing, dancing, trick riding, and other fun competitions.  It often involved members of the audience!  There were magic tricks, pig races, barrel races, wagon races–even miniature ponies.  The trick riding was incredible.  I also loved that they got the audience involved by dubbing you either the North or the South (at Christmastime, it’s the North and South Pole, but as the stalls in the bathrooms are labelled Northerners Only and Southerners Only, I’m guessing it’s a competition year round.)

The North (Green) vs. the South (Red)

The North (Green) vs. the South (Red)

Throughout the various competitions, we cheered our side on, whether it was things the rider controlled like barrel racing or things they didn’t like little kids chasing chickens.  I’m pleased to say that our side–of course, the South–Won!  All in all, we had a great time and were able to share a bit of the Wild West with Hannah.

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