Our family had a dual purpose for taking a 2,000-mile road trip in July to the majestic Smoky Mountains. Our first reason was to retrieve the frame of a hundred-year old couch first owned by our son’s great grandparents before whom he had taken his first steps as a 13-month old when we took him to their South Carolina home so they could meet him.
We used that mission to justify our second reason – to escape our virtual confinement from the COVID-19 virus. Yes, we know others have broken their own isolations by getting away to somewhere in order to deal with the consequences of being secluded from the rest of humanity.
To do the trip with relative safety to ourselves and others, we rented a sanitized home in the mountains and booked a couple of hotel rooms en route that were also promised to be thoroughly disinfected.
We took our own food for multiple picnics in state parks and only occasionally had to resort to take out from familiar eateries. Of course, we wore face coverings and maintained distancing from others – something easily achieved in the outdoors.
Our visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was not our first, or anywhere near that, as we had made the trip many times combined with visits to both sides of my wife Sylvia’s families, who made their livings farming tobacco and row crops in the area.
It’s among our favorite destinations, and you may be able to discern why from the photos on these pages. Walking the trails in the park to destinations providing vistas and features of God’s handiwork never gets old.
The newly restored 36-mile roadway winding through the park is bordered by Gatlinburg in Tennessee and in North Carolina by Cherokee on the Indian reservation. Both towns thrive on tourism, and there were so many people in Gatlinburg that we decided not to mingle with them.
For parts of two days, we also drove portions of the 469-mile scenic Blue Ridge Parkway stretching from North Carolina to Virginia taking travelers high across the mountains with views that are beyond breathtaking.
Yes, we also stopped in a couple of the quaint mountain villages where we could avoid being among more than about 10 or so others, most of whom were observing the safety protocols with which we are all now so familiar.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park long ago established itself as the most visited of all the country’s national parks. If you haven’t been there, I can promise making the journey will be an awesome experience.