Wednesday, October 13, 2004

 

Smoky Mountains

We started out on Friday at 10:00pm. It was a 10hr drive across two states-Kentucky and Tennessee to North Carolina.

Day-1

We checked in the campgrounds about 12:00pm on Saturday and after rampaging through the food we set up the two tents. Some of us took rest from the long drive while the rest went to buy firewood and stuff for the camp fire. We drove to a nearby town Cherokee for firewood and when we returned all the others were in a deep slumber. We woke them up and went to a nearby creek and took some pictures there. After that we went hiking for about 1½ hr, when we got back we had a tough time igniting the firewood. Those logs just wouldn't light up. We planned to cook our food on the camp fire, so we drove back to Cherokee again to buy some igniter fluid and even that didn't do the trick. The person who sold the liquid instructed to soak the wood pieces in the liquid for 1/2 hr and then light them. So we soaked them.
We again drove to Cherokee. It was while parking the cars the passenger door hit the other car and this created a big dent in it. Luckily we insured the cars and we didn't have to pay anything out of our pockets. But we didn't let this incident spoil the rest of our vacation.
Most of us went Go-Carting and we had a great time. After that we reported the car-incident to the authorities so that we can proceed legally. By the time we returned to the campgrounds it was 9:00pm and by this time the logs we thoroughly soaked. We had to cook our food fast as it was a bear territory and bear encounters were common. The smell of food would attract them. We at last made a big campfire and we cooked the chicken and other stuff we brought. After having a half cooked dinner we gathered round the fire to discuss tomorrow events. It was pitch dark except for a few yards around the fire. Then we slept in the tents 5 in one and 4 in the other tent. The fist night was very cold and we didn't have enough comforters to wrap around, so didn't have a good sleep.

Day-2

We got up early around 7:00am. It was still quiet hours in the campgrounds which we didn't know. We started out with our daily chores and with the normal loud voices and then the lady next to our camp site started yelling. Once again back to silence and we started to Lost Sea in Tennessee about 2hr drive from the campground. We stopped on the way for breakfast of doughnuts and coffee and for the cars--gas. The next stop was lost sea. It was an underground lake. If you expect more about a movie and the movie is not to your expectation it is a flop. This concept is also true with trips. This happened with lost sea. The underground lake was said to be the 2nd largest in the world and we expected a large lake but it was in fact a small one. We stopped for lunch at Taco Bell and started to Gatlinburg to see the Ripley's Aquarium.
We had some difficulty with the directions but in the end we reached there by 4:00pm.This was the best part of the whole tour. We saw so many varieties of underwater species and GREAT WHITE SHARKS -as big as 11 foot. We planed to go on a nature trail drive but while driving through the streets of Gatlinburg, we changed our plan to spend the rest of our evening there. We took the sky lift ride which took us to the top of a mountain where you can and get the best view of the smoky mountains and Gatlinburg. Then we went window shopping and decided to have dinner at pizza hut.
We returned to the campgrounds and after many unsuccessful attempts to light a fire again, we made a small fire with dry leaves, paper and some other combustible materials and sat around the campfire to discuss about the rest of the trip. This night was not as cold as the previous one so we had a good sleep.

Day-3

We woke up late. We planned to wake up early but I guess nobody wanted to. Then the normal blame game that U didn't wake up--I woke up but slept--I woke U up etc. Sandeep and others had a difficult time wrapping up the tents. I was not as easy as opening those. They just wouldn't fit in. But somehow or the other they packed them up. The rest of the herd packed or shall I say dumped the other items in the two cars. We didn't have a formal breakfast just the left over pizza and bananas from yesterday's dinner.
We started to go on a nature trail drive. When we drove for about a few minutes we saw many cars parked by the road and all the people were looking at something which seemed like a tire from a distance. When we came by it, it raised its head and it was a bear cub. It was cute and probably lost. It stayed for a while many grabbed snaps and it went into the mountains. We reached a point where a sign board said RAINBOW FALLS - 2.6-miles by foot. At this point some of us decided to go hiking while I and Chintu decided to complete the rest of the nature trail drive. We (me & Chintu) wished them the best and started out. The nature trail drive was 11 mile - 10 mile/hr ONE WAY very narrow road full of scenic beauty and wild bears. The road was just wide for one car and sometimes a steep fall one side of the road. We were compelled to make several stops to take some pictures as the beauty around was breath-taking. It took us about an hour and half to complete the drive and when returning we saw a bear crossing the road in front of us. I did brake all of a sudden and the sound from the brakes startled the bear and in hurried into the mountains. The bear was bigger than the previous one. Chintu had just enough time to grab a picture. After that we made another two bear stops (U can tell that when U see a lot of people having stopped their cars and all looking frantically in one direction) We had seen enough bears for the day. We looped back to the point that had a sign board RAINBOW FALLS. We waited for about 10 min when we saw Ananth leading the hiking herd return. The whole party was exhausted to the point that they will eat anything given to them. It is natural when you have not had a good breakfast and walked nearly 6 miles and halfway of that being a steep up-slope. They had enjoyed a lot.
We drove to Taco Bell again in pigeon-forge for lunch and after satisfying our hunger started to Lexington in Kentucky where our ol-parted friend Anjani Kumar was. He spent his 1st semester in Toledo and later on transferred to University of Kentucky in Lexington. It was a 4hr drive and nothing much happened during the ride after a long hike and satisfying lunch. We reached Anjani's place and spent some time with him. We went to a Thai restaurant for dinner. We took some pictures at the restaurant and later on went on a tour of the University of Kentucky by guide Mr. Anjani Kumar.
After bidding adieu to Anjani we started back to TOLEDO. It was a 5hr drive from there and the time we started was about 12:00 in the night. Normally people say don't drive at night but if you are not tired and can stay awake with the help of your co-passengers it is alright to drive at night as you will not have much traffic as compared to day-time. We made about two stops at rest-areas. It was about 50 miles from Toledo where we encountered a thick fog. You can see nothing farther than 10 feet from the bumper of your car. It was my first experience driving through such a thick fog. We had to slow down to 30 miles/hr to go through it. It was about 5:15 am when we reached Toledo. We just grabbed the important and necessary things (laptops etc) and went into the apartment. We didn't want to empty the cars right then as Toledo was much colder than Smoky Mountains as it was more in the North. After a long time we had a good sleep on our comfortable beds. We woke up around 2:00pm and emptied the cars first as we had to return them by 5:00pm. We enjoyed a lot and now it is back to normal life again.

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