Saturday, July 3, 2010

54/365 Blue Ridge Parkway

What better way to drive from Asheville, NC to Gatlinburg, TN than along the Blue Ridge Parkway?

We made a stop at the Folk Art Center east of Asheville, first, which is a shop operated by the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Both Mom and I came away more inspired than loaded down with purchases.

The vistas along the Parkway were gorgeous (above). This was the first day we encountered significant rain -- of course! The day we drive a narrow, two-lane, curvy highway through the mountains is the day the heavens open up, right?

We drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and exited in Gatlinburg, TN, which was an assault on the senses, to say the least.

When I was a kid, we spent a few days camping outside Gatlinburg and came away with a lot of great stories and memories. Neither Mom nor I had been back since then (nearly 20 years), so we planned to stay in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area for a day and a half. Unfortunately, the town has changed significantly in 20 years.

The only thing I can guess is that the town doesn't have strong regulations on new businesses and buildings, because the main street is packed to the brim with arcades, chintzy museums, cheap souvenir shops, and pancake houses. We admittedly don't fit into the target audience they're apparently catering to now (young families), but both of us found the sight rather sad. It's no longer a nice, quiet town in the Smokies.

So we reformulated our plans over dinner that night and decided to cut our trip short by a day. The next morning, we drove the arts and crafts loop outside of Gatlinburg, which hosts several local shops that were worth seeing.

After that? Knoxville, TN, here we come!

Camera: Canon 40D, 1/250s and 1/125s, f/5.6 at ISO 100 between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.

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