The Great Smoky Mountains

After a long and unsetting year of the Covid-19 pandemic, Joyce & Tim’s travel adventures begin again.   Travel now is a lot different, but not because of the lingering fears of the global pandemic.  In 2016, an American Eagle (a cross between an American Eskimo and a Beagle) who we named Cody, came into our lives.  Cody did not stop us from travel, but we missed him when we were gone.   In 2021, during the recesses of the pandemic, I determined that there was enough love in my heart for a second good boy.  Tim agreed and we searched and searched for what we hoped was the ideal addition to our family.  Damn near got it perfect.  In February, PJ (Pups Junior) was adopted.  PJ is a Golden Doodle who looks like an Irish Setter because of his rusty color.   His father was a giant chocolate poodle and his mother a fair golden retriever.   It was with this addition to the family that we decided we wanted to incorporate “the boys” into as much travel as possible.  Now we are trying out new modes of transportation, a Jeep Wrangler and a Ford 250 SD, a trailer, and toying with a Fifth Wheel.   For now, we are still Bed & Breakfast hopping, but looking for pet-friendly stays.

great smoky mountains

We found ourselves again at the base of the Smokey Mountains where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins in Cherokee, North Carolina.  Cherokee is the city to the south of the 32-mile passageway across the Smoky Mountains, which offers many road stops for vista views of these majestic mountains, Last time we were down this way, Tim and I were on my Harley Street Glide, and had just came through the Tail of the Dragon.  Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Smokey Mountains, and the second highest peak (by 41 feet) east of the Mississippi) Everyone in America who has the means to travel should cross the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Fontana Lake provides over 238 miles of shoreline, and the Damn was completed in 1944.

As of busy Bed & Breakfast Hosts, we seek any destination that is abundant in serenity.   The Horton House, nestled along the ridge line of the Smokies was perfect.  Its address is Bryson City, and about ten minutes from downtown Bryson City, which is only about 4 square blocks.  The Horton House is a perfect get-away for those who truly want to be away from people – and, have a kick-ass four-wheel drive and can muscle its way up a steep, narrow gravel hill with tight turns.   It takes guts to traverse a narrow one-way back country mountainous road, and after reading reviews, some have tried and failed, particularly in the winter.  Horton House is operated by Carolina Mountain Vacations and their communication, and the information provided was excellent.

Like Simon and Garfunkel, I appreciate immensely the Sounds of Silence, but from your perch on the large wooden deck in a swing glider or rocker, you can hear rooster crows, coyote yips, bird calls, goat screams, horse nays, and unfortunately, hounds barking.  But if you are like us, you like that sort of thing, particularly when the wind wrestles through the trees.  The cabin is immaculately clean and comfortable, warm, and well-appointed, solid, and serene.  You sit atop of the trees and overlook a valley view.  Horton House adds to its value by offering a fire-pit, a hot tub, and a charcoal grill. 

Having home entertainment was perfect for us since our travel companions are not welcome in most places.  In fact, there are only TWO trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park that allow dogs on the trails.   The Oconaluftee River Trail is on the south side (an in and out with the trail head at the Visitor’s Center, Google Pin is off), and beyond the north pass, the Gatlinburg Trail.  More dog-friendly trail options are in the Nantahala National Forest. 

Overall, objective was met.   Lots of relaxation, beautiful scenery, and pretty river walks.   But lessons learned, not only

You can enjoy a brew at the Nantahala Brewing Company and Tap room.  They have an outside patio that is pet friendly.     You may also want to visit the Native American Brewing, operated, and owned by 100% native Americans and a Woman-Owned business.    

The Deep Creek River Tubing company offers floats and during our walk along the trails, we watched several groups go down.  This is not a lazy river float since several times along the river you shoot through Class I rapids.   The Smoky Mountain National Railroad is also highly rated.  The main depot is in Bryson City, and you must call ahead for reservations.   It can be an all-day fifty-mile journey and featured events are offered, such as the wine tasting train. 


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