Fully Open

Trip Start Oct 03, 2013
1
15
16
Trip End Oct 17, 2013


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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So this morning we got up before the sun desperate to at least do 2 things that we wanted to do as the gates were swung back FINALLY and the park was to be fully open. I considered doing Cades Cove first but I didn't want to back track. STUPID.  So we get to Roaring Forks Nature Trail and wait for the park ranger to show up.  Since that road was not a priority we had to wait.  We almost gave up but then he showed up.  Apparently the gate that we thought was the entrance gate was not the gate to the trail.  It was the gate to the road leading TO the trail.  So when it was open when we got there we were excited but then when we ended up making a circle and ending up where we started we assumed that other CLOSED gate was the one we needed.  So we made our way back to that one and waited.  It started to rain while we were waiting and it rained as we did the drive but it did stop for a bit and let me get some nice photos and no one was there except a few cars but you were mostly on your own. It was also very covered like a tight deep forest canopy and I loved that.  Lots of moss and deep greens.  And tiny waterfalls everywhere.  I would have liked to do some hikes but I knew we had no time.  I am kicking myself HARD for booking a room in Savannah for tonight.  It was my stupid mistake.  I was tired of hearing the government say they were "close" to a deal and NOT be and then the TN governor kept making ridiculous statements like he wanted to open the parks but the banks were closed???  WTF?  That is the most ridiculous excuse ever and if it was true then why not say you will open them Tuesday as soon as the banks DID open??  Then the last statement I heard late Monday night was that he was returning to TALKS about reopening the parks and hoped they would be open by the weekend.  So I lost all hope of anything opening up before that.  I guess I was so desperate to salvage some small part of the crap vacation that I booked Marshall House because I stayed there before and loved it and it was something I knew and was safe with.  Well turns out they only had one night available so I booked anyway and got on a waiting list and then found out they are filming a movie out front of the hotel and so the traffic is a mess and parking is too and now I am wondering what I am walking into.  I should have never booked it but now I am stuck because its non refundable.  Although I am not convinced I could have stayed in Gatlinburg anyway since its apparently the start of the big peeping season tomorrow.  I know that because the concierge at WestGate mentioned that the park had to be open by Wednesday or it would be a disaster.  Apparently she was unaware I was living my own disaster.

Anyway we made our way to the gas station after the Roaring Forks trail (that whole thing took 2 hours between waiting for the ranger to open the gate and the drive itself.  We stopped a few times to take pics.  It was truly probably the highlight of my trip as far as things I saw.  It is truly a beautiful trail and there was hardly anyone driving it so at most points it was just Jym and I on the road and it was peaceful and stunningly beautiful.  I was glad I got to do it and that it wasn't full of people.  The drive is actually IN The park but not off the main road.  You go up the road at light #8 in Gatlinburg and it leads to the trail so its very secluded and not part of the main drag in the park.  I think that is why we were so lucky that it was so empty.  I get to the gas station at the Food City.  We have been using that one since its cheap and it was right down the road from the exit to the trail so it worked out.  So I put in $15.00 and it shuts off.  Now I had a but more than a half tank so I didn’t really think that sounded wrong but I had issues a few days previous where again I couldn’t get the gas to pump into the tank right.  I think there is an issue with my gas tank or at least the float.  So I get in and drive off and realize that I only of a tank!  WTF. So I go back and try to squeeze in more but after $2.00 of gas blowing back out at me I gave up but you do not want to be on the road with no gas when you are driving through the mountains!  I also think there might be other issues as I seem to be getting puffs of smoke out the exhaust.  Not sure.  I am just hoping it eeks by until I can get it home to be looked at. 

So we get to the visitor center for the Cades Cove drive and I opt to just do the drive and not stop for information.  I had planned this whole thing in an extraordinarily un-me way.  I did little research on it all so I figured we would just do the drive.  From what I had read it was a loop and there might be elk and there were supposedly some nice stops.  Well what I did not plan for is that now it was 10:15 and apparently everyone who has been kept out of Cades Cove for 2 weeks has shown up.  The drive said it was 24 miles TO the cove.  So that plus the return of 24 miles…48 miles and the speed limit is like 25 at places so do the math.  So then we get to the Cove and says the one way loop drive begins and is 11 miles.  OK so now the traffic is gridlock and not moving at all.  Maybe there’s a bear or an elk??  Less than 2 miles and a half hour later we see what the hold up has been…wait for it…HORSES.  REALLY?  Not horses in the road mind you…horses in a field.  Are these people so starved for animal encounters that they will back up traffic on a one lane one way road that has like 30 signs saying NO… begging… for people to not stop and be courteous and use pull outs.  But nary a person can do that!  AND there was a PULL out right by said horses and one car was using it!!!  The whole drive was this buffoonery.  It literally took over 2 hours to drive 11 miles and we did not get out of the car ONCE.  Total gridlock.  Just cars upon cars creeping along trapped on this tight one lane with an occasional pull off to enable you to use BOTH hands to pull out what was left of your hair.  And we did not see any elk or other wildlife at all.  Although I heard birds chirping…although that could have been laughter…

We finally got back onto the main road (Newfound Gap Road) which we have done like 5 times this week so I just drove that without stopping all the way through.  It was well after 2:30 when we popped out at the south end of the park.  I almost went up Clingman’s dome road but it was 7 miles up and 7 back for just the drive and it was raining and very cloudy so I was pretty sure there weren’t any good views from up there on this day.  We got onto the Blue Ridge for a short time and then entered the cross streets of the hotel in Savannah since we can’t park at the hotel and it says our arrival is 9:30.  We have only eaten breakfast at 7 am and since then only some cheese and crackers and a muffin.  We have been driving almost straight there and yet still manage 14 hours in the car.  I am exhausted as well from another night of no sleep.  Luckily I booked the smallest and lowest priced room at the Marshall House.  At least I didn’t pay to upgrade!  Since we will only be there to sleep now.  I don’t even know if we can get food when we get there now.  I had my little meltdown cry.  Since I didn’t get to have my crying hike I guess its only appropriate that I have to cry about everything else. 

Oh one funny thing that did happen today. Jym and I were sitting in the traffic on the 11 mile cades cove loop and had my ipod on and it was playing Independence Day… and Jym says “None of these things are true.   They have nothing to do with Independence Day.  This song makes no sense”.  I looked at him and explained that the song was indeed about a woman who is abused and finally has enough and kills the dad and burns the house to the ground.  It’s HER Independence day…and the independence day of the child telling the story…Not THE independence day.  Jym says “Oh. I just don’t listen. I just start talking and things go wrong between point A and D.”

We arrived at the Marshall house a bit after 9.  My only stop in SC (which is the 5th state in the Poor Tour) was for gas.  I had hoped to get some of that cheap SC gas everyone talks about but instead got boned with a pay at the pump deal for an extra charge!  I ended up paying $3.17 instead of the quoted $3.11.  I hate EXXON.  Not going to any of those again. 

So we pull up at the supposed temporary valet location (they said we can’t pull up front due to the movie filming) but there was no sign and no valet so we continued on to Broughton Street where the hotel is and sure enough there was the valet in front of the hotel.  Must just be a day thing with the alternate location.  The valet was SO nice and told us we CAN self park in the garage if we like and told us how to get there.  I knew I remembered self parking before.  We pay the garage rate but that’s fine.  Cheaper than valet and I don’t like people driving my car although the valet here was such a sweet guy so I would have been fine with that. 

We checked in and the front desk and they were so kind.  Bridget actually called Alligator Soul for us (we had eaten there on a past trip here and it was the most amazing restaurant experience of my life) but she said she explained our situation and hoped that they could get us in but they were just way too booked up and couldn’t do it.  So Charles suggested we try Churchill’s Pub which was a nice pleasant walk down to Bay Street and over a few blocks.  We ate on the rooftop terrace and the food was amazing!!!  OMG.  Jym had a pork shank that looked unreal and at first when I saw it I thought I should have gotten that but then when I tasted my fish it was also fabulous.  It was a lovely setting on the roof too and a pleasant night temperature wise.  I think at some point I actually became so overwhelmed with exhaustion I was actually dizzy and just wanted to get back and go to bed.  We got back and Bridget had called and said she set us up a reservation for Alligator Soul for tomorrow night at 7:30.  We don’t have a hotel yet but I figured we could find something.  
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