Summer must be the time for drives… My last post was about my Saturday “afternoon” drive to Hot Springs, NC and running across a Civil War reenactment. That drive was a fairly lengthy 5 hours, but this past Sunday, we took a drive that blew that one away
After church, Tiff and I were trying to decide what to do for the afternoon, and ended up going for a drive. We were originally just going to run Cades Cove in the truck, see the newly paved loop (FINALLY), and come home. As usual, that didn’t work out quite how we expected. First surprise of the day were the horses up near the fence!
We kept driving and enjoying the scenery, and I was happy because I could cruise along with the truck’s automatic transmission rather than having to constantly clutch up, over, and down hills with the Kia. Totally changes the experience of driving that loop. Somewhere along the loop, we saw a deer (not horribly uncommon, but still fun)…
After driving the loop, we took the “shortcut” that lets you go back to the beginning of the loop for people who are masochistic enough to want to drive that road more than once in a single day We did it this time because I wanted to finally drive Parson’s Branch Road which is one of the ways out of Cades Cove and leads to the Dragon. Thus, this was the first time I’d used this crossover, and to my surprise and pleasure, found there was a relatively deep water crossing. (Tiff, why aren’t there pictures of the cool parts? )
Unfortunately, I get to do very little (read:no) off-roading, so I always get giddy as a school-girl over the most mundane of ‘non-paved’ surfaces, especially when I’m in a 4×4. This particular crossing was about 2 feet deep and there were people picnicking nearby, so I didn’t let my irresponsible self get the better of me and thrash through it. It was still fun to drive through, though, and as expected, the truck was just fine. After quickly(ish) going half-way around the loop again to get to the Parson’s Branch entrance, we stopped to use the restrooms and headed towards the entrance to Parson’s Branch.
Parson’s Branch is a “primitive road” that is essentially a partially graded path that inhabitants of Cades Cove used to use back in the days before cars. It’s smooth enough that a family sedan might…i repeat… MIGHT get through, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The Escape handled it with ease, but with all the rain we’ve had, some of the rocks were pretty slick and the 4×4 kicked in a couple of times. It is about 10 miles long, and there is zero cell phone coverage out there, so don’t try it in your car and then try to call AAA when you get stuck. You’ll be kinda screwed. There are 18 water crossings on Parson’s Branch as well, but none of them very deep. I think at the most we went through 6 inches of water up there.
After we got to the end of Parson’s Branch, we exited onto the Dragon, where Tennessee put up some horrifically confusing signage about which way to go to get off (there was a rock slide up there earlier this year that is blocking the Dragon from the TN side (where we needed to go)), so we tried to go north towards to rock slide to see if there was any way around it. Sadly there was not, so that meant we had to drive into North Carolina, and either go to Cherokee, NC, back up through the park to get home, or go over Cherohala Skyway to get home. Either way was about a 3 hour venture, so we decided to go for Cherohala, since that’s a fun road with great views, and took that back. AAAAAAAND that’s the end of this post. I’ll put up some pictures in a couple days that we took from that road.
In the end, we got home about 9:30pm that night, for a grand total of 7.5 hours of driving. And we covered a grand total of 160 miles. Not so good on the average speed there considering the last hour we were cruising at 60-70mph Oh well, it was a fun day.