Just returned yesterday from an amazing little getaway to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. The drive from central North Carolina up to Cherokee is a beautiful one. I love Cherokee. On entering and leaving the reservation, you’re greeted by old hotels and run-down businesses, and more than a few dozen groups of Harley riders who seem to flock to the mountain retreats. You can be in and out of the reservation in no time, but take the time to stop and explore a bit and you can’t help but love the history and culture that reeks from the place. We went to the recently updated drama Unto These Hills, which, while not the greatest as far as acting goes, was well worth the time and money for an inspiring glimpse into the past and present of the Cherokee. Stop and browse through a dimly lit store filled with dream catchers and Indian pottery, and leave greeted by a kindly old Cherokee shopkeeper; stop in the Qualla Arts and Crafts center (my favorite spot, incidentally) and look at the masks and the woven baskets, and you can’t help but want to go back.
The Great Smoky Mountains hold some of the most breathtaking spots in North America. We stopped in crowded tourist trap that is Gatlinburg, TN, but it wasn’t long before I wanted to run back to the national park. We spent a day at Cade’s Cove, which was way more satisfying that sampling Gatlinburg’s entertainments. Got some amazing pictures right under a couple mama bears and the cubs in the trees as they munched on some cherries. And what’s better than that?