We're near the end of our stay here on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It feels like we got a good sense the park, from its intimate valleys, trails and streams to its grand views.
Our last adventure into the park was to the Cataloochee Valley, on the east side. It was a long drive to get there from Wears Valley Rd., making a large loop across the north side of the park, through Gatlinburg and Cosby, and then down the east side on Rt. I-40. From 40 there is a single lane winding dirt road up over a mountain and down into the Cataloochee Valley. We stopped at an overlook before making the descent.
Like the other places in the park that I've posted about, some of the old buildings have been preserved and are open to explore. The first structure you encounter in the valley is the Will Messer barn.
Our next stop was the Palmer Chapel, but in the pull off we noticed this mass of male (yellow) and female (blue) eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies indulging in something that brought them to this spot by the hundreds.
Then the Palmer Chapel:
Next stop, the Caldwell barn.
Some ferns growing along the bottom of the barn door.
The stairs to the second story of the barn:
I don't know if this barn was designed to let the air flow through, or if it was once more airtight. I have a feeling it was always like this, perhaps to store hay and allow it to dry out.
Across the stream was the Caldwell home, built in 1903. It was relatively new when the park was formed around it.
I explored inside. It was really in pretty good shape and had a nice feeling to it. I'd live there. This bedroom was wallpapered with newsprint.
Looking down the staircase:
Another bedroom with a beautiful patina on the wood ceilings, walls and floor.
After touring the valley on the one road that leads in and back out, we stopped for a picnic lunch. Here's Ms. Subaru taking her lunch break in the shade too. After lunch she drove us back through Maggie Valley, over Newfound Gap Rd. and home to Cove Mountain RV Park. She had a hard day.
Tomorrow we leave this area and head a bit farther north to Blountville, TN. This is the beginning of our three week trek to get to Massachusetts. We'll keep you posted.