|The view from the windshield|
I have a sister who lives in Knoxville, so I started by suggesting that we save money by visiting her. Besides, we've not been able to visit in the five years that she's lived there. Off to the Great Smoky Mtns. the moment school closed, we had lots of energy and determination. We did use some common sense and spent a night on the road.
|first large waterfall|
|view from Clingman's Dome|
We visited Clingman's Dome, Newfound Gap, and Cade's Cove. They were all fabulous and describing any one of them will take a full post!
|the mill at Cade's Cove|
On Monday we left Knoxville for Mammoth Cave National Park with Laura leading the way. She's wanted to visit the cave for a while and it's only three hours away, so why not do it with us? I've recommended it a couple of times, but somehow we've not been able to get there in past trips. The cave is beautiful, dark, and cold. Our tour guide was funny and interesting, but keeping up with him became impossible at "Fat Man's Misery" and we fell behind. Eventually we finished the tour but it got a little dicey for a while.
We parted company with Laura at Mammoth Cave and were off to Paducah to the National Quilt Museum. She's not into quilts, so she spent a night at the caves to do a little more spelunking the following day. It will take a post to describe the beautiful quilts at the NQM.
We spent an entire morning just enjoying the quilts and then a few more hours enjoying Paducah. I was not expecting such a large city or one with such a colorful history. The downtown area is surprisingly busy with quilt and antique shops, restaurants and the river. The new areas along the interstate are busy with hotels, shopping, restaurants and business. Between the two are beautiful older homes well worth the extra time of driving around. I thought of New Orleans and Savannah, but this city is more than just a reminder of other older cities. It has it's own vibe and history and takes full advantage of both.
|the hills in Kentucky|
After the quilt museum and Paducah, we were finally ready to head home. Kentucky and Tennessee are littered with barn quilts and we saw a few on the stunning drive from Paducah toward I 55 and Memphis. It was easy to see them since we are country people at our core and could not help but to look at every farmhouse, barn and field on the drive. Every now and then Richard would roll his window down so the smell of fresh-cut hay could replace "the stale air of two old people too long in the same vehicle." (his words, of course!)
Expect a few more vacation posts with lots of pictures. I am sure I can find a few words to express visiting some of the highest mountains and some of the deepest caves that ordinary visitors can get to in a week's time.