Once we finally made our way into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park after a disastrous drive in, we began to get the feeling of the place. The feeling leading into the park was not good. It was a combination of Disney World and every cheap roadside attraction that we have encountered on the road. Apparently Pigeon Forge Tennessee is a famous summer get away spot. 4-1375119877-9-jpg-1 Once in he park, there was lush green forest, beautiful creeks, and rivers and overall a very nice forest landscape. It was pretty but certainly there had to be more. After all this is the most visited National Park in the system. More people come here than Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier National Parks.  There had to be a reason. So determined to find out the secrets of this place, we headed to the visitors center. Every National Park has a visitor’s center with a theater and a 20-30 minute film telling you about the park and it’s highlights.  We took our seats and waited to discover the wonder. And we waited and waited and waited….The film talked about the preservation of this land in order to protect it from logging interest.

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It spoke of the history of Appalachian people and the Native Americans. It spoke of smokey blue mist that rolls through the mountains. And then… It was over. That was it???  We all looked at each other with the expression of “What the heck was that?”  Where were the towering waterfalls, the hidden caves, the buffalo, the elk? Hell…. for the title of most visited national park, I wanted to hear about real live unicorns, elves, and mermaids breaching the water in a temperate blue lagoon fed by a waterfall of God’s tears that he shed as he marveled at the beauty of what he created.  Instead, I came away with the the impression that this was only a National Park because a bunch of tree hugging hippies cried to congress to stop the logging. Don’t get me wrong. I love tree hugging hippies. I count myself as one of them, but a national forest designation would have been enough.  The title of National Park should be reserved for truly special places. As far as I can tell, this is not one of them.  Yes it is a beautiful range of mountains and forest, but no so different the any other mountainous area on the east coast.  So why do so many people come here? It is simply because they can. It is an easy weekend getaway that is accessible from so many heavily populated areas in North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia,  and the surrounding regions.  There is also no charge for this park and several public roads pass through the park. I am pretty sure they count each car on this road as a “visitor”  If I lived within a couple of hours drive of this place, I would come here.

Fish here. Camp here and otherwise enjoy everything that Great Smokey Mountain National Park has to offer. But, I don’t live within a two hour drive. It took me 14 hours of driving to get here and I am let down. Once I am done with this entry, I am going to draft a letter to congress and tell them to take their next recess at Custer State Park in South Dakota. This is a place deserving of National Park status that is still has not received. Perhaps when BP discovers oil under the land the tree huggers will come out and help Custer gain the status that it deserves.

We did have one very funny story while here. On the first night, Hunter was sitting quietly by the camp fire as dusk settled on the park. I was cleaning off Dottie’s windshield when I heard the sweet voices of angles whispering behind me. They spoke the following words. “Excuse me sir, would you like some biscuits and gravy? Our mom made so many that we are giving them out to other families”  These two golden haired angles disappeared as quickly as they came, leaving behind a huge plate of fresh biscuits and gravy. With his best Scooby Doo face, Hunter gasped in disbelief. He asked “did those little girls just deliver us biscuits and gravy”  I acknowledged that this in fact did just occur.  With a flash of sudden motivation, Hunter rose from his chair and quickly made for the plate. He swears that he was dreaming of biscuits and gravy only minutes before our angels appeared. I cannot attest to the truth of that, but what I will say is that his 120 lb frame did some serious damage on the plate in a hurry.

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