Friday, June 9, 2017

Touring With the Sisters…

Laurie’s sisters Bonnie and Karole spent a week with us in May…a chance for Karole to experience the paradise that is East Tennessee and for Bonnie to just enjoy her recent retirement.  She’s been here many times before.

Since Karole was ‘new’ to the area and had never seen much in the area other than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge we ‘had’ to take her to the places where we take all first time visitors…

We started with lunch…or rather a snack at one of our favorite bakeries and sandwich venues.  As I mentioned before, the ladies are all on a diet in which they restrict themselves to eating in a 4 to 5 hour window.  They can eat whatever they want during the window…and the diet is working for all of them.

Tellico Grains Bakery in Tellico Plains Tennessee makes great sandwiches but we limited ourselves to sweet treats as we had dinner plans for later in the day.  Coconut and oatmeal raisin cookies and strawberry scones were enjoyed by all.  Website:

From Tellico Plains we headed up into the foothills of the Smoky Mountains following the Cherohala Skyway to the Tellico River Road/Forest Service Road 210 in the Cherokee National Forest.  That narrow winding road is built on the old logging road that closely follows the Tellico River.  When we crossed this bridge, we parked to take in the sights…

This is Bald River Falls.  These falls are over 80 feet high and they are considered to be the most impressive and scenic waterfall in East Tennessee. Weather permitting, we always take our first time overnight visitors to see this waterfall! 

The 3 happy sisters…Karole, Laurie and Bonnie.  So far, they hadn’t fired their chauffeur and tour guide so I was able to take this photo.

The Bald River is a major tributary of the Tellico River which in turn is a major tributary of the Tennessee River.  3,721 acres of the Bald River’s watershed are part of the Bald River Gorge Wilderness, which was designated as a wilderness area by the U.S. Forest Service in 1984.

Laurie decided that I should be included too so she took this photo of me with her sisters. 

The Cherokee National Forest was created by the U.S. Forest Service in 1920.  It covers part of 10 counties in Tennessee and 1 in North Carolina and it encompasses 655,598 acres.  There are 11 designated Wilderness Areas within the National Forest.  To learn more about the Cherokee National Forest go to or

Great view don’t you think!  East Tennessee certainly doesn’t lack great scenery!

Following our visit to Bald River Falls, we headed in a north easterly direction, following Tennessee Hwy. 72 to US Hwy. 129 then east on that highway to just about the start of “The Tail of the Dragon” and a dangerous winding stretch of highway with numerous switchbacks and sharp curves that motorcyclists look at as a necessary item on their bucket list of places to ride.

In any case, we turned of US Hwy. 129 onto the Foothills Parkway.  This particular stretch of the parkway is 16.5 miles long.  The Parkway travels through the foothills and along the ridges on the western side of the Smoky Mountains.  The Parkway is managed by the National Park Service as part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This is the observation ledge at “Look Rock” along the Foothills Parkway.  Karole is taking a photo of her sisters who are taking photos of the sights…
Look Rock also has an observation tower that is an ‘easy’ 1/2 mile hike up from the parking lot.  As per the internet, the observation tower “provides a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the mountains.”

If you’re visiting Smoky Mountains National Park and you are tired of the traffic and crowds, the Foothills Parkway isn’t nearly as busy as other roads in the park.  It's a great place to relax and enjoy the scenery without the hassle.  To learn more about the Parkway, you can go to

One other necessary stop for first time visitors to East Tennessee is Cade’s Cove in the Smoky Mountains National Park.  I didn’t take any photos of the scenery on this occasion as I’ve taken so many over the past 8 years and these photos were taken early last fall.  I’ve included them so first time viewers/readers can see what the area looks like.  

Visitors to Cade’s Cove come for the scenic beauty, the history and for the opportunity to view wildlife.  Deer and turkey are most commonly seen but the ‘gold standard’ is for visitors to spot a black bear.

Laurie and I have been lucky a couple of times when we’ve visited Cade’s Cove.  This trip looked like we’d be limited to turkey at a distance and a fox in a meadow but toward the end of the one-way 11 mile loop drive, traffic slowed/stopped and we could make out a mother black bear in the distance with her cub.  These aren’t the greatest photos but at least we could document our sighting! 

Note: Biologists estimate that approximately 1,500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  That’s equal to a population density of roughly two bears per square mile!  

Cade’s Cove is a beautiful place but it is also very popular.  It can take a couple of hours without stopping to look at historic structures just to drive the loop if wildlife cooperates and poses for passing vehicles.  We avoid weekends and holidays!  To learn more about Cade’s Cove and its very interesting history, go to

Karole really wanted to see deer but we didn’t see any deer during our drive through Cade’s Cove.  When we need to show someone deer, we know about a neighborhood development near the foothills where we always can see deer in the early evening.  We spotted a few and she was a happy camper!   

Our drive for the day was almost over when we spotted these antique automobiles in Vonore Tennessee.  One was parked in front of a local grocery store and the other was across the street in front of a pizza parlor.  Both vehicles from the early 1900s are rarely seen on the roads as they are rare, old and expensive too. 

They are Bentley’s and per the folks above who were happy to let Laurie take their photo, they were on their way from New Orleans to Washington D.C. for a Bentley rally.  Very cool automobiles indeed!  I found a 1924 Bentley Vander Plas Tourer for sale on the Internet for “only” $385,000 British Pounds…about $500,000 US!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and joining us on our local tour!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Wow, that was a full day for sure and looked like plenty of water coming over the falls. A real treat to see the bears.

  2. Great photos, Dave! It's definitely a beautiful area with no lack of fantastic scenery. The bear would be great to see. Sounds like you were the best tour guide for the ladies!

  3. What gorgeous and spectacular views, Dave! And I love the falls! Looks like you all had a wonderful time! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Beautiful location Big Daddy...and you always find the most spectacular ones. I love the waterfalls. You are all looking good!