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Trip Report Smoking away to glory!

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is full of amusements and is surrounded by the nation's most popular national park. It is teaming with tourists from all over the country with traffic that is irritating and time consuming to say the least. Don't be surprised if you spend an hour or two to navigate 4 miles once you reach this mountain resort town. The US 441 cuts right thru the town and the road 'parkway' is the main street here. Once here you have reached everything- all the museums, tourist attractions, stores, restaurants etc are on this road, so park your car in one of the public parking spaces and start walking is my advice to you. This is one of the most touristy places I have been to in my life. But I must say it is an awesome place to bring your kids to, there is so much to see and do that they will have a field day!
We were a group of ten people who had actually chanced upon a long weekend, we didn't know about the existence of a columbus day holiday till the beginning of last week. But once we did we all had one thing in common that we wanted to do and that was go to the Great Smokey Mountains. So in no time at all we rented a log hut in Pigeonforge, rented two cars from Enterprise cars and one of our friends had a very young traveller- 7 month old Mahek, so he took his own car. And we were all set to go. A 400 mile drive later we were at Gatlinburg, with 7 miles to go to the Gatlinburg Cabins office from where we had to collect the keys to our log hut. That 7 miles took us two hours to navigate one-way!!! So once we reached their office we just parked our cars there itself and headed off to check out this quaint crowded town.
Our first stop was at the Space Needle- we wanted views of the mountains around us and we got it :-) Then we had lunch at the nearest Subway (most of us were vegetarians), then we made a small trip to the Ripley's Aquarium- a must do for animal lovers, you get to see so many exotic sea animals there! Then a trip on the tram to Ober Gatlinburg, however most of the sports were closed in this season! Finally we took the bypass and headed to Pigeonforge to our loghut. Such a beautiful cabin it was really with all amenities, we immediately felt at home :-) The men sat in the hot tub while the 4 of us women started cooking dinner, Chainika had brought some pulao (Indian Basmati Rice, cooked with spices and veggies) so we just made some gravy to go with it) Finally we got our turn at the hot tub and feeling refreshed we all sat for dinner. Once done with it we headed to the pool table for a nice game of billiards before heading to bed. Well, we loved the cabin so much we were in real danger of not stepping out once we had gotten in!!
However Mukesh n Surabhi managed to wake us up early the next day and enticed us into a long drive around Cades Cove in the hope of sighting some bears. After the horrid experience in the area with bumper to bumper traffic the previous day we were really skeptical about how far we'd get in our cars today. But heading out in the morning turned out to be a savior. The roads winded around many streams that made for some picturesque group photos and we finally reached Cades Cove. But once we did it was a one way loop with plenty of cars and as you probably guessed we sighted no bears, only a deer or two and some fine birds. Never the less being in a group meant lots of fun as we stopped in plenty of the historic places to get some pics. the scenery around us with the mountains that truly looked like they were smoking was good enough to keep us happy.
So up until now th trip had been it's sanest and now started the real fun.

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