Driveabout: Day 10
It was a fine morning to do laundry and then we skedaddled out of Pigeon Forge and hit Wears Valley Road en route to Cades Cove. Such a difference between the perpetual flash and pizazz on one side of the mountain compared with the sweet peace and timelessness on the other side. We stopped at Headrick Chapel along the way. An amazing spot in the heaven that is the Great Smoky Mountains; a cascade of headstones against the mountain wave. After a quick convenience store stop and a last-chance for signal, we headed up the mountain to Cades Cove.
Many campgrounds are shutting down for the winter at this time of year, but there are spots, for the hardy, open at Cades Cove year round. Now, let me tell you, I know that "camping" truly involves sleeping on the ground with some cover and the very barest of necessities. It's the true survivalist in the wild, a skill that all should learn and apply, no doubt about it.
That said, I love to have a studio apartment on wheels to weather the daily grind, too. Cades Cove is a boondocking campground, which means that there's no electrical hook-up. Jae was kind of concerned about this since we both use CPAP machines to sleep, but I made sure that we each had 12 volt power supplies in the form of power centers for jumping car batteries and powering equipment. I've used one for five years and it's always done the job when I can't connect to electric. Still, she was kinda creepin' on the whole concept.
We checked in, got our site, and then drove the Cades Cove scenic loop. In 1797, Cades Cove was a Cherokee Indian settlement known as Tsiya'hi, or "Otter's Place." The cove was eventually named after Chief Kade, who reigned over that settlement for a time. The Treaty of Calhoun, in 1819, nixed all Cherokee rights to the Great Smoky Mountains and they were eventually removed from the region in 1838 via the Trail of Tears. European settlers helped create a small boom in the valley after 1820 and this little isolated patch of heaven has been the locale for enterprising settlers, upward thinkers, church splitters and bootleggers. The 11-mile loop provides amazing vistas and opportunities to see wildlife. We saw some deer and wild turkeys along with a lot of human animals displaying careless and reckless behavior; kinda hard to tell which was more fun and intriguing.
Afterwards, we settled in and I cooked dinner before building a fire and enjoying the incredible peace of camping in the Great Smokies. It got a little chilly and, thankfully, Lucky's furnace runs on 12 volt power.
About 3:30 am, Jae wakes me up. Her CPAP has turned off. The damned old model has sucked every bit of juice out of the jump-starter. I gave her my jump-starter and decided to sleep without the CPAP for a few hours before getting up in the morning. She woke me up again around 4:30 am to say that the other jump-starter had run out of juice. And, with that, I fired up the generator and lifted a big thank you to the camping gods of wretched excess.
I have a tent. Love tent camping. That said. Love slide-outs, generators, showers and POWER.