Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We've always loved the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although it's the busiest national park, it's still easy to find a quiet spot to enjoy the natural and historical surroundings. We went to the park twice this summer. First, we took Annette's parents. Later in the summer, we returned with Ben.

July Trip
We drove south from Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway and entered the park from the North Carolina side. We stopped at the visitor center and walked around the small farm. Then, we headed into the park toward Cade's Cove.
On the way out of the park, we took a gravel road over the top of the mountain to Townsend. Along the road we saw a cute, baby black bear in the woods. Since it was a baby, we decided not to get a closer look and continued down the road.
The small dot in the center of the picture on the right below is the church that's in the center below.

August Trip
Ben came to visit for a couple weeks in early August. Larry and Ben went to the Biltmore Estates and Carl Sandburg Home, while Annette was working in Pennsylvania. Annette flew into Knoxville for the weekend, so the family could take a quick trip to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We stopped in Gatlinburg at our favorite mini golf course called Hillbilly Golf.
Cade's Cove is one of our favorite places, so we decided it would be fun to take a bike trip with Ben. Cade's Cove is closed to cars on Saturday morning. We needed a third bike, so we stopped at the bike rental at the entrance to Cade's Cove. It was a busy morning and Larry was told that most of the bikes were already rented. He walked around the rack of rejected bikes and found a lonely bike laying on the ground. It wasn't in the best condition, but we decided it would work for the 11 miles around the loop. Larry volunteered to let Ben ride his bike, so he could ride the rental. We had a great time. Ben was usually in the lead, but Larry often caught up and passed when coasting downhill. We stopped along the road to see the sites.
When we come to the Smoky Mountains we always see lots of wildlife. It's fun to see a bear and Cade's Cove is one of the best viewing spots. As we were riding our bikes down the road, we noticed a group of people looking at the trees. From the road we could barely make out the shape of a bear in the tree. Ben is pointing at the bear in the picture below. Larry got a little closer for the picture below. Besides the bear, we saw lots of deer.

You can't go to Pigeon Forge without doing some shopping, so we spent a morning shopping at the outlets. After taking Annette to the airport, Larry and Ben went back through the park. They hiked to Laurel Falls and Clingman's Dome before heading back to Asheville.

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 7/01.
Updated 5/02.
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