We started our month in Tennessee on the eastern side of the state at Lazy Acres RV Park in Lenoir City, which sits on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, and is also located about 30 miles south of Knoxville.
During our two weeks at this location, we went into Knoxville a few times. The Annual Dogwood Festival was in full swing, so we drove through some beautiful neighborhoods with bright gardens on display. We also went back on a Saturday for a downtown street festival featuring 5 stages of musical performances (we ended up hanging out by the Opera stage).
We also took a drive to our east one day, and visited the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I would not put the two tourist towns on my list of places to revisit, but the Smoky Mountains themselves were spectacular.
On another daytrip we drove 90 miles south to see Lookout Mountain and Downtown Chattanooga. Rock City and Lookout Mountain were the same place: an amazing geological rock formation high on a mountain outside of Chattanooga. We accidentally went on the Saturday of the Easter Holiday weekend, so it was PACKED with tourists. I think we would have enjoyed ourselves much more if we had chosen to visit on an ‘off’ Monday morning -when there might be fewer tour buses in the parking lot. Downtown Chattanooga was a nice city center on the banks of the Tennessee River. We had a good time walking around the public parks and busy streets before we settled for lunch on the patio at Hair of the Dog Pub.
I’m keeping with my new “picture book format” on the blog, so the rest of our story from this stop is highlighted by the photos and captions below.
There was a marina with a restaurant near our campground in Lenoir City. It was the perfect place to grab a meal with a view on a clear day.
This parking garage in downtown Chattanooga had a rock climbing wall on its exterior. We both thought that was a very clever use of usually ugly urban space.
There were all kind of characters at Rock City, we thought this smokin’ rock was humorous.
Mike was extremely adamant about getting my picture in this exact spot while we toured Rock City. I don’t think the sign that happens to be above my head is a coincidence… If you can’t read it, it says “evil queen lurking”.
The weather was overcast and misty when we visited Lookout Mountain, but at least we made it to the place where seven states were out in the distance before us. The view was quite remarkable, despite the limitations.
I don’t particularly like high places… or at least the edges of them, so Mike had to take all the pictures looking down.
Henry, the social and free-roaming cat, lived next door to us at Lazy Acres RV Park. Piper parked himself by the front door at all times we were at home and inside, in desperate anticipation of a sighting.
We did a lot of hiking through the woods in East Tennessee. Since the dogwoods were in full bloom when we arrived, this is the type of vista we would see when the trails came close to the water.
We usually had the public trails all to ourselves for our afternoon walks. The dogs got great exercise on this leg of our trip.
I’ve learned it is not so uncommon to stumble upon a random stone fireplace in the middle of the woods.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge were giant tourist traps, but the natural lands in the Great Smoky Mountains were incredible.
I didn’t realize there would be so much flowing water in the Great Smoky Mountains.
This picture taken through the windshield does not adequately reflect the beauty of our drive into the Great Smoky Mountains.
Fort Loudoun Lake (part of the Tennessee River), was just through the woods at Lazy Acres RV Park. We could see the water through the trees when we arrived, but the leaves were budding so fast, the view was almost completely blocked by fresh green foliage by the time we left two weeks later.
We visited Knoxville during the famous Dogwood Trails. Lucky Mike got to drive around with me all afternoon looking at pretty trees in quaint neighborhoods. He had a blast… that is what I told him.
I don’t even know what kind of pink tree this is. It looks like a giant cotton candy statue.
It was very weird to be on campus of UT and be strangers! The Volunteers’ campus is adjacent to downtown, and their stadium sits right on the Tennessee River.
We were surprised dogs were allowed at Rock City and on Lookout Mountain. Piper and Cessna enjoyed their tour of the caves and crevices.
A wonderful fountain of cannons on the river in Chattanooga. (At least I think they are cannons).
A dramatic waterfall flows down the side of Lookout Mountain. I can’t believe this was once someone’s private property!