Sometimes all of us need a break from the neighborhood, even if that neighborhood is an exciting place we really enjoy. As much as I love downtown Knoxville, I find myself needing that little escape. A place without sirens and other noise. In the summer time, maybe a place where the air is just a little cooler.
I realize Cades Cove is over utilized and hardly getting into the wilderness. Still, with a nine-year-old in tow, it offers some of the needed break without inciting an over-abundance of whining. With those variables balanced, Urban Girl and I set out for a little time to chill in the hills.
We’d originally thought we might hike to Abram’s Falls, but with a prediction of thunderstorms for Townsend, that seemed a bit dicey with a young one, so we opted to simply ride the loop slowly and see what we might find. We got there early enough that, particularly for the first two thirds of the loop, the traffic was very light.
It was mostly just us with the windows rolled down and very little sound but that of the forest passing by at about 5 miles per hour. Urban Girl got to sit in the front without a seat belt and felt she was living on the edge. The roads are perfectly paved – unlike what I remember from the last time I went – and the electric engine in the Prius barely hummed.
Am I the only person who’s noticed that trips to the cove often produce a particular animal theme? I’ve gone and seen nothing but deer, for example. One trip we saw about a million ground hogs, but not much else. This time it was Turkeys. No other wild animals at all, but a half dozen turkeys. Do they keep a calendar and volunteer for particular days? It’s odd.
The star of the show in our trip were the clouds on the surrounding mountains. The sky hung low and I really enjoyed the way they danced around on the various hills and mountains. I’m not sure Urban Girl thought that much about it. She was all like, “I really get why people like hanging their arms out the window,” while she let her freak flag fly.
We stopped at the mill and other buildings, but she was unimpressed. We stopped at the horse barns thinking we might take a ride. She rode in Jackson, Wyoming last summer and fancies herself a horsewoman. Fun fact: Riding a horse in Cades Cove – nose to butt, no freestyle – costs $35. Helmets, which I’m not sure if they are required, cost $15. That, ladies and gentlemen is a cool $100 for two riders. Fortunately, there was a two hour wait and she wasn’t digging that. We moved on.
She’d probably say the most fun she had was playing in and around Little River at the fork in the road just outside Townsend. She looked for crystals, we skimmed stones and she tried to coax a butterfly to land on her hand. I think it really was attracted to her. I told her some people might say it was a spirit.
When she spotted (she wanted me to make it clear it was her, not me) a very large hornet’s nest, it seemed a good time to drive back to the city. She fell fast asleep. I don’t think I’ve ever delivered an awake passenger back from Cades Cove in nearly four decades of shuffling family there.
It was a good break. Just to remember the feel of cool air on my skin in the middle of summer was worth the drive, to me. To see Urban Girl connecting with nature and with the jewel we have in our back yard was priceless. We’re very lucky to have places like this to take a little break.
Don’t let the break fool you. There’s a lot happening right here and we’ll be back to it tomorrow. For now, I hope you enjoyed a little excursion.