Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Friday, April 15, 2011

BEARS! Classes, and Cades Cove Drive

We saw bears! I'm doing the happy bear dance :-). I'm so thrilled. less than three weeks on the road, and I saw bears!

First things first though. Wednesday was the formal start of our classes. Between the two of us we attended each one Wednesday: 1. No Right Way to Full-Time: Evaluating the Options 2. Emotional Aspects of the Full-timing Decision 3. What Does It Cost to Full-time? 4. Internet on the Road. Each was was very informative, and whereas most of the information can be found by digging through the RV-Dreams website, I found the question and answer session after each lecture to be very interesting, often bringing up different topics and ways of looking at things. There's an afternoon break between 3pm and 6pm, and then the chili cook-off/dinner started. I believe there were about 40 different pots of chili brought in, along with all the fixin's and desserts (my favorite part of the meal!). After dinner, everyone was invited to bring their favorite useful and/or amusing rv gadget for show and tell. That was very interesting and informative as well as being quite funny at times.

Today we continued getting the pups used to being in the trailer on their own, and it seems to be working out quite well, better than I expected, actually. We pull the shades, leave the fan on, the tv on, give them their cookies, and tell them to stay, we'll be back soon. So far, so good. Casey seems to like staying on the bed while we're gone, and Chelsea just sleeps on the couch! No barking at all that we've been able to tell, and our neighbors tell us they haven't heard anything, so GOOD DOGS!!

On an amusing side, Nancy next door told us to check our pin box, she's seen a bird flying in and out of it. Sure enough, as I was sitting at the picnic table, I saw a little house finch fly over with a twig and duck into the pin box. The little guys are building a nest in there! I shooed him away, and after making sure it wasn't occupied, we put a plastic garbage bag around it to keep them from going in anymore. We sure don't want to get stuck here because we're waiting for a family of finches to be born! Shortly afterwards I saw both of them come flying in, and boy, were they not happy campers when they couldn't get in. Poor things, they were flapping their little wings hovering in front of it, trying to figure out what happened. Oh well, there's plenty of spots better for them to raise their family!

Thursday morning we attended more classes: 1.Buying an RV-pros Cons and Must-Haves 2. Selecting a "Home Base" and Insurance Considerations 3. Working on the Road. The last class for the day was TV Options for RVers, but being that we are set with our satellite and DirectTV, we decided to skip that one and head out to Cades Cove. We were going to do that on Friday, but it's not supposed to be a nice day on Friday, and Thursday afternoon was beautiful! So we got some lunch, and headed off to the Smoky Mountains and the driving tour at Cades Cove.

This is a very popular trip within the National Park, and is a showcase for some of the most inspiring and cultural treasures that the Southern Appalachian Mountains have to offer. Now, for those of you at home, a "cove" in Smoky Mountain vernacular is not the same thing that we consider a cove, which of course is a body of water. Here, a cove is a relatively flat valley between mountains or ridges. The primary access to Cades Cove is an 11-mile, one-way road Cades Cove Loop Road, shared equally between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Cades Cove was primarily a farming community, and in 1900 about 125 families lived through the area. The main road was generally the route followed today, with about five other narrow unpaved roads running throughout. These are now some of the 7 hiking trails easily reached from the loop road.
We had not gotten too far along the route when we saw cars piling up alongside the road. It was quite reminiscent of our time in Africa, when you knew if you saw a gang of vehicles pulled over to the side, there was some sort of wildlife to see :-). Pulling off, we saw in the distance three black bears. It was so exciting, and they were heading down the ridge towards us! I jumped out of the truck to take pictures (no, I did not get too close, and happily, no-one else was trying to either!).

They stopped in a clearing where there were several fallen trees and a lot of grassy area. There must have been something tasty there for them to eat. Two of them were at this log for quite awhile, grubbing up something.

This one headed straight for me for a short while, but it is further away than it looks. Thank goodness for telephoto lenses!

This shows the grassy glen they were picking through. Shortly after this, someone at the other end of the parking area did something to spook them, and they took off back up the ridge. It was so interesting to watch them for a little while though, and really, they didn't seem to concerned about people observing them. And the pups were great; we had the windows up, but they didn't carry on at all. Good dogs!

We continued on with our drive, and took some more pictures of the preserved buildings along the way.

This is the Primitive Baptist Church, originally built in 1827, and replaced in 1887. I found it interesting that during the Civil War, they ceased having services, and official church correspondence explained: "We the Primitive Baptist Church in Blount County in Cades Cove, do show the public why we have not kept up our church meeting. It was on account of the Rebellion and we was Union people and the Rebels was too strong here in Cades Cove. Our preacher was obliged to leave sometimes, and thank God we once more can meet." I thought that was interesting!

This is the Methodist Church, built in 1902, in 115 days for $115.00!
View from the west side of the cove looking across to the east. Casey was really eyeing up the fields! Wouldn't it have been great for a run!

Some more of the fencing that I really like. This is the entrance to the Cable Mill area, where there's a walking tour of the historic buildings on the site.

View of the Gregg-Cable house, with the barn in the background.

The drive-through barn behind the house. Two men with pitchforks could easily unload a wagon load of hay that had been pulled though the middle.

This is a water=powered grist mill and sawmill built in 1870. It was operated well into the twentieth century, but ceased operating when it couldn't compete with the new more modern steam powered mills.

Some old farm equipment stored at the Cantilever barn near the mill creek.

The Dan Lawson Place. This house has a brick chimney, very unusual in 1856 for this area.

The view across the cove from the eastern side of the loop road, looking west.

So that was our quick tour of Cades Cove, and I hope you found it interesting :-). We had to quickly make our way back to River Plantation, as we had our pot-luck dinner at 6PM, and afterwards a "friendly" game of RV Family Feud. Now, that was different. My team was eliminated in the second round, but Al, as team captain, (guess you just can't take the leader out of him lol) took his team down to the final round, and lost on the final question.oh well! :-).

Today, Friday, is a "free day"...no classes or official events scheduled. Al went for more fly-fishing instruction, and I'm doing laundry, as its piling up and I don't think we have laundry facilities at our next stop in Kentucky. We are waiting for some bad weather, and high winds to move through tonight, so the awning is rolled up and the chairs will be stowed. So, until the next post, enjoy your day, wherever you are!


  1. How exciting to see those bears. We have wanted to see some out in the wild for years. Hope you got my email about the road you asked about. If not, let me know and I will post it here.

  2. We went up there on Monday, but didn't see any bears :( I thought it was a beautiful loop.

  3. Nice blog on Cades Cove. Next week we are leaving Amityville NY for the Multi Chapter Escapees Rally in Marion NC. The rally is right outside of Smoky Mountain NP and we will be going there right after.
    So the info on the park is perfect for us.
    Hope to see you on the road some time.

  4. Nice post on Cades Cove! What a lucky sighting with the bears - how exciting!

  5. Thanks for the Cades Cove tour. we found that area interesting and relaxing.

  6. Love the bears! I remember seeing my first bear...it was in a cherry tree in Cades Cove. Looks like you had a great visit. Be safe!

  7. Wow, how exciting to see those bear in the wild.

    We enjoyed meeting you and being neighors. Hope to see you down the road.

    Safe travels to Michigan and hope the work camping goes well!!

    We'll be following your blog.