My father-in-law blessed us with another week of his timeshare condo. Our vacation led us to Pigeon Forge this year. One of the top destinations on our list was exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We devoted two days to visiting the park.
It was important to us to visit Cades Cove because our adopted children's lineage is from there. Cades Cove is a small community that sold their land to the National Park Service in the 1930's. Many of the churches, homes and other structures were preserved and made part of the park. We were able to find several graves of relatives in our kid's family tree. They are a bit too young to truly understand it all, but we were excited to be able to make that connection for them. So many adopted children are left with a big empty hole when it comes to where they came from. Our children are blessed to have an actual place that they can visit someday that will always be preserved in a national park.
We visited a grist mill in Cades Cove and were able to buy flour that was freshly ground.
We visited three churches in Cades Cove and looked for gravestones. I love graveyards, but this was extra special to be tracing my children's lineage.
In addition to all of the wonderful historic buildings, there were many animals. The kids loved petting the many horses. Wild animals were easy to see in Cades Cove. They were everywhere and we were able to get so close to them. We also saw a bear, wild turkeys and several deer.
We also got to visit a one room school in another part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The kids really got into playing school. They wanted me to teach them, and we ran through some multiplication tables, the continents, and other math facts. I thought it was funny that the kids started calling me Miss Dawn and raising their hands when I asked questions. There was another graveyard right outside the school. Almost all the people buried in this grave yard were children under one. It really hits home how blessed we are in this day and age that our children usually live to adulthood. I know that in my family, only one of my children would have survived the first year.
What a gorgeous place to visit. The views in this Cove are just stunning. It must have been so difficult for the families to leave this place.
We had a wonderful two days in the park. We saw several waterfalls, lots of wildlife and got some exercise on the wonderful nature trails. The kids located a snake basking on a rock. They insisted that it was a water snake, but I am pretty sure it was a copperhead. I have to get my hands on a snake book and compare pictures. We plan to go back another year and spend more time there. Maybe we will even be brave and camp. LOL!
I will continue with the rest of our vacation another day.