After the "trek" to the peak of Clingman's Dome, we headed for our hotel on the Tennessee side of the park. In reading my pamphlets on the area, I knew that the Bryson City area, and the North Carolina side in general, was the quieter, less popular side of the park. The center, right there at Clingman's Dome, is the Appalachian Trail, which is the border between states. Based on the hundreds of ads I had gotten with my "Great Smokies Trip Planner", I expected Gatlinburg, Tennessee to be something like Ocean City here in Maryland. Basically, a tourist trap - only here there would be woods instead of sand.
This was beyond a tourist trap - it was like Vegas for families. As soon as we left the serene park borders, we were met with pure chaos: Haunted Houses, Mini-Golf, Dig for your Own Gold, Zip Line Tours, Live Bear Acts, and at least Six "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" attractions. (Adam called them, Ripley's "I Can't Believe I Paid That Much" museums.) Along the mayhem, were pedestrians. Inexplicably, they were all paying more attention to their ice cream cones or funnel cakes, and grown adults were walking into traffic without even a glance at the cars.
It was pure insanity, especially compared to the peaceful whips of clouds we had photographed just minutes earlier. I held fast to the reviews of our hotel, which said it was "off the strip" and "quiet", but "close enough to walk to the town". Thank goodness, these were right on the money.
A few scenes from our hotel room:
Yep, that's the Roaring Fork Creek, which runs right behind every room at this hotel. It is loud enough to drown out any noise, but the hotel truly is located a bit away from the mayhem. Also, they featured "wine and cheese" followed by "milk and cookies" every day (though we stayed in the park until sunset each day, and we missed them). And the pool and hot tub were open 24 hours. And there was a parrot in the lobby. (His name is Cesar, and, according to the sign on his cage, he bites. Good to know.)
The only complaint I had was the free Wi-Fi. It was set up a bit funky, so every web page featured a banner with flashing coupons at the top. It was either this, or the million other set-up issues Adam noted in their code, that made it impossible to load pictures to my posts. So, yes, I have been back for full-on a week now, but will continue to bore you every few days with stories about my vacation. You're welcome!