In what was now a daily routine we checked the weather on the morning of day 3.
Ok. Hurricane Nate's path has shifted back to the east a little but it still looks like our houses will be ok, It might be raining harder than we thought on our drive home but there was no need to hurry so if it got bad we'd just stop somewhere.
We both agrees that skipping the geocaching event was a good idea because it would be raining in the mountains just when we would have arrived, meaning we might not have been able to do and see as much.
The storm would be over, with the possible exception of some rain, by the time we were ready to go home so all was well and our adventures could continue.
As we walked out of the hotel we saw a trash can that had been knocked over and dug through.
A bear was here! I can honestly say that if I hadn't seen the bears the day before I might have cried because while I was looking for a bear in the pool, I missed the bear on the porch.
Oddly, this hotel has regular trash cans instead of bear proof – which probably explains why there's a bear hanging around their parking lot at night.
After a pancake breakfast we were off.
Our first stop was Sugarlands Visitor Center where we hiked a beautiful trail to the John Ownby Cabin.
It's so easy to immerse yourself in the history of the area here and I could almost see the Ownby family going about their daily lives.
From there we drove on to Cade's Cove.
I was really proud of myself for making it to NewfoundGap without having a panic attack but this road was completely different.
The road leading to Newfound Gap was nice and wide with a guard rail and the feeling that there was plenty of room on both sides for cars coming and going.
The road to Cade's Cove was NOT my kind of road. I felt like the oncoming cars whipping around the curves were going to run us off the road at any minute.
And Dad wasn't much help. “Look over there. Hey there's a guy fly fishing in the creek.
Did you see those rocks?”
No, I didn't see anything because someone has to watch the road!
We went up to 5,000 feet yesterday and I didn't need a Valium but today we were only traveling to 1,000 feet and I was looking for a Pez dispenser to deliver Valium fast enough for me to make it up the mountain.
We passed a waterfall with a scenic overlook and he said “Oh I wanted to stop there” and then acted like he was going to turn around.
“NO NO NO!” I did NOT want to turn around on that narrow road and after he made a u-turn on the side of Cheaha Mountain with a Snickers in his mouth and a Coke in his hand I knew I never wanted to be in the car when he made a u-turn again.
So we passed the waterfall and went on up into Cade's Cove.
Words can't describe how beautiful this valley is! I really enjoyed seeing everything we'd seen so far but once we got into the valley I felt like I was home.
Which is weird for a woman who's never lived farther than 10 miles from the coast. I've always said salt water runs through my veins but the views and serenity brought the same sense of calm and home that looking at the Gulf does.
I am truly the daughter of a son of a son of a sailor man but this area really spoke to me.
As we came into the Valley we went on an absolutely epic geocaching adventure.
Once we got back to the car we drove along for a short while and then had a picnic at a scenic pull over.
It was incredible seeing the mountains circling us.
Wildlife in the Cove is abundant and a lot of people were watching the tree line for bear, deer or whatever else might wander into the field.
I've heard so many stories of bobcat, bears, and deer wandering the valley but all I saw was a squirrel. A grey squirrel – the exact same kind we have at home.
Interestingly, the fact that I didn't see anything on this day didn't bother me. I think the time we spent climbing the mountain cut into time we may have seen something but I'd seen bears, turkeys, elk and chipmunks yesterday.
I can say without a doubt, the adventure on the mountain was worth it. I also know that I will be back.
After lunch we drove on the the Cade's Cove Primitive Baptist Church.
I would love to travel back in time and attend a service here.
The cemetery behind the church had some very interesting old graves but one in particular caught my eye.
Murdered by North Carolina Rebels?
No one knows for sure but interestingly, his son is buried right behind him in the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.
There is also a Methodist Church
As well as a Missionary Baptist Church.
I would have enjoyed wandering around more of the old cemeteries and cabins but my hip was screaming and the idea of walking anywhere wasn't appealing.
And as I said, I'll be back.
We made the loop and ended up at the Visitor's Center/Campground Store.
Sad to leave but armed with large cups of coffee we were off on our next adventure,
The sun rose and almost set and so far day 3 of our 10 day adventure was a success.
Little did we know that in a few short hours everything was going to change.