Ups and Downs
Trip Start Feb 15, 2010
77Trip End Feb 14, 2011
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I made my second attempt to go through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Previously, I attempted to go on a scenic drive in the Tennessee side of the park. This time I had planned to take the main road halfway into the park and make a short drive up to the highest point in the park that was also along a scenic drive. Apparently, I was not meant to
see the scenic highlights of this particular National Park during this trip because the scenic road leading to the tower at the highest point was closed until the end of May. I figured I would just continue to drive around a bit and stop at some of the overlook turnoffs on the sides of the road
My second chance at seeing something unique in the park came when I noticed a sign for stables in the park. I remembered reading that there are guided horse trails a few times a day, and I figured that would be an excellent way to see some of the scenery and experience the park. Unfortunately, the stables were also closed until mid-April. I had never actually done any horseback riding, so it would have been a neat experience, but I'm sure most National Parks offer horse trails. I guess it will be something to keep in mind for the future.
After stopping for lunch at a Dairy Queen, I drove down to an REI Outfitter store that was on the way to my next destination. The inflatable camping mat that I purchased for the back of my car is from REI and over the past few days I had noticed it was deflating itself during the night. I would wake up to find it flat, so I decided to try to take it in and see if they could do anything for
me. As it turns out, the company has a 100% satisfaction guarantee and they actually stand by it.
My next stop was to the Brown Mountain Overlook. Brown Mountain is the site of an amazing phenomenon that has been occurring for centuries. There is still no proven explanation for it. At irregular intervals the mountain displays a light show that some people have said is similar to watching roman candles. Balls of light (usually red or blue) are seen shooting up from the mountain and hovering around near the ridge line. Some of them float around and drift before fading away, and others are said to sort of "pop" without making a sound. The lights can only be seen from a distance and are very unpredictable. I spent about three hours at the overlook and wasn't able to observe any of the lights, but I did get to chatting with a local man who had brought his son and daughter out to try and catch the lights. It was his second attempt and second failure, but he knew of many people who had seen them and said he would continue to try. Without the lights to entertain us we ended up talking for about an hour. He was a website designer and because his work can be done wherever he is; he has done quite a lot of traveling himself, so we had a lot to talk about.
We gave up on the mountain around 1:30am, and I continued driving to Winston-Salem, NC. Once I arrived, I had to spend some time re-arranging my bed. Once it was all said and done, I laid down to get some sleep around 4am.