View from treetops
By Clif Knight
A return to Hartselle Sunday night closed a chapter on our vacation experiences in 2021.
A week earlier, Geanell and I ended a week-long beach vacation in Fort Morgan near Gulf Shores. An early departure Thursday came with light showers, but they gave way to blue skies and sunshine within an hour, and weather conditions were ideal for the remainder of the day. The highlight of a five-hour drive was a delightful sit-down dinner at a small, family-owned and operated restaurant in the arts and crafts district of Gatlinburg, Tenn.
A sun-drenched day gave way to a star-studded sky at night with temperatures dropping into the lower 50s. We relaxed in the comfort of a cozy apartment, which was heated by a blazing open fireplace. At the same time, we watched a college football game on TV.
Friday we weaved our way through the mountains for a picnic in Cade’s Cove, a historic former farming section of the Smoky Mountains. The one-way-in, one-way-out area was packed with onlookers, forcing U.S. Forestry agents to keep traffic moving along the five-mile route. Traffic stopped at several intervals to observe a mother black bear and her cub walking across a pasture and several adult deer grazing in a hay field.
The Cove was settled and inhabited by pioneers in the 1800s and early 1900s and flourished as a self-sustaining agricultural community until it was purchased by the federal government. Its residents were grandfathered in and allowed to remain on the land and farm it as long as they lived.
The remnants of their existence – homes, barns and other structures, along with two churches and adjoining cemeteries – have been preserved and are open to tourists.
We usually go to the mountains the third weekend in October to see and enjoy the beauty of nature’s colors in the trees standing in the valleys and on the mountainsides. While the color hadn’t yet reached its peak, we were even more excited to join in the celebration of Alabama’s 56-24 pigskin victory over Tennessee. Roll Tide!
Even though these trips took place some 500 miles apart, both provided unusual and fun-filled events in the company of family and extended relatives and were much enjoyed and appreciated.