I had the BEST time on vacation. B has been going to Maggie Valley and surrounding areas for vacation since he was a kid, and if he hadn't shared it with me I might never have known how great it is!
We started the week with a tour of Cherokee, North Carolina. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation have a reservation there, and I could not have fallen any more in love with it. We toured the Oconoluftee Indian Village, a working village that shares Cherokee heritage. There were pottery, canoe making, weaponry, and craft demonstrations. All of the crafts produced in the village go on to the Qualla Arts cooperative for sale in Cherokee. I brought home a gorgeous clay pot and B bought a really beautiful beaded arrow. I wanted a book on the history of the Eastern Band, but I couldn't find just the right one. I'm still looking. I'll definitely post pics in the coming days, but for now you'll just have to visit the Cherokee website.
Of course we had to pop in to the Harrah's casino in Cherokee. While I didn't win much (or spend much) on our first day there, I won $40 on a slot machine the second time we popped in. I generally quit when I win anything remotely significant, so there wasn't much playing after that.
On Wednesday we headed out early and drove over to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. B warned me ahead of time that Pigeon Forge is the Myrtle Beach of the mountains, and he wasn't kidding! I was totally overwhelmed by all of the businesses crammed in: restaurants, mini-golf, tubing places, outlet malls. Gatlinburg is just as busy, but it's designed in a much more tasteful way. Much less disturbing.
On top of hitting up some outlet malls, we drove Cades Cove, a 12-mile scenic drive around the most gorgeous valley I've ever seen in my life. Nestled in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I can't even put the breathtaking scenery into words that might do it justice. You'll just have to wait for the pics.
On the way back to Maggie Valley, we cut through Great Smoky Mountains National Park to see more of the great scenery. Again, wait for the pics! The ones of the river are my favorite.
On our last full day we explored nearby Waynesville, NC. The downtown area is breathtaking, and the shopping was great. We hit up the Mast General Store for some Life is Good merchandise, and of course we pillaged the candy barrels. We had a blast rummaging through the multiple floors of clothing, housewares, and camping gear. I had to visit Osondu Booksellers, a quaint little independent bookstore with a coffee and wine bar tucked into the back. I picked up Sarah Addison Allen's novel, Garden Spells, and on my way out the door I added Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to my bag. Incidentally, Sarah Addison Allen will be reading at Osondu on the 8th of July if you're anywhere near the area. They had a great selection of signed books by the authors that have visited the shop.
Finally, we rounded out the day with a trip to the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley. B is a big motorcycle enthusiast, and I love things that go fast, too, so it was a great way to spend the afternoon. Words and pictures really can't do the place justice. I've never seen so many pretty sets of wheels (and historic, and they all run beautifully) in one place. Classic cars, motorcycles, some restored, some in original condition. Fabulous fun. I had a wonderful time!
Of course, there was a lot of loafing in between these particular pastimes. I spent a good amount of time in the motel's indoor pool and hot tub. We ate GREAT food (lots of fudge), I got a lot of reading time in, and it was good to have a change of scenery and a chance to recharge.
I'm ready to go back to the mountains now!
Watch for the picture post. It should be up soon.