….This ain’t Kansas…

…but it’s sure enough not in the least what I would have expected, either. Gatlinburg…hoooooooo boy…..

But that’s maybe a bit too rushed….so I reckon I ought to begin a tad sooner.

Checking out of the hotel with the decision to return here as our base for our return to Germany, we got on the road to our next stop on our trip, Gatlinburg, TN. Hands down, the Grand Cherokee is a smooth and fun ride. As speed is no item for US Interstates anyway, the level of comfort, sitting and view height and sheer bulk give you a rather good feeling traveling on those huge US roads, quite a difference from being passed left and right in your small compact sedan, a feeling we used to know on our previous trips 😉

Still…I can’t help but notice that speed limits less and less are being taken into account, people exceed them by at least 30 miles….various Sheriff cars and State Troopers had a field day today, we saw about 50 pulled over cars during our 4 hr trip. Considering the trouble foreigners get into (personal appearance in court, depending on where you are at a day of jail per 5 mph you were too fast…) we grit our teeth, forget about the Deutsche Autobahn….and stick, more or less, to the speed limit.

Entering the Smoky Mountains National Park gave us an idea though why it is a bad idea to go to touristy sites during events like the labour day weekend. Everybody, their grandmothers AND twice-removed cousins wanted to get to Pigeon Forge and/or Gatlinburg. I swear, there were oodles and oodles of cars going there and once we left the North Carolina/ Tennessee state line at New Found Gap behind, we had a veritable stop and go traffic…that wouldn’t let up even after we arrived at the hotel and decided to go to Bass Pro to pick up a rain jacket for me…..and shoes for us as well as getting a new pair of Crocs for each of us. And where Gatlinburg is an amalgamation of Downtown Disney, Sedona and Leavenworth (WA) on steroids, charming, quaint in an almost painful kind of way, Pigeon Forge is a mind-boggling loooooong Main Street with tons of stores, mini golf courses, cart racing tracks, stores (yes, twice, there were that many), more stores, malls and hotels, motels and restaurants galore for each and every wallet. Yes, every wallet, some of them looked like even ‘roaches would have too much pride to stay at. Speaking of appearances though, designers went hog wild there. About 30 differently themed mini golf courses, dinner shows of each and every variety with specifically built places (upside down houses, the Titanic, rustic cottages, super-sized barns…you name it, they have it)…it…I dunno…it’s too much to take pictures of, you wouldn’t know where to start and where to stop…..next time, I take a video camera. Promise.

I have to admit, the whole tropical storm thing is making me a bit nervous. Lee is only gracing us with rain, but they have severe weather alerts out for tomorrow, flash floods for the area. Just when we want to take a few cruises through Smoky Mountain National Park. On the upside though, most of the tourists should be on their way home tomorrow…or simply not in the mood to take a scenic (hopefully) drive through the National Park. We’ll see…and keep our fingers crossed.

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