Cherokee and Maggie Valley, North Carolina are two of my and B. J.’s “old stomping grounds.” We made our first trip there together in the early 1960’s and since then we have made it a regular haunt. We have camped up there several times including a camp-out with the Indians at Mingo Falls on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
A few days ago, we returned to Cherokee and Bryson City to get into the spirit of the fall season. The natives up there really know how to capture the fall essence. The creativity they use in dreaming up and presenting colorful décor overwhelms one’s imagination and whisks you away into the heart and soul of fall.
On Friday, we reined Little Red (it was her first trip to the mountains) along our old beaten path that we traveled on our first mountain trip: U. S. Highway 1 to Wrens, Ga. where we accessed Highway 17 for one of the most scenic drives in our state; it has become to us a great opportunity to engage in nostalgia and recollect the many fun times we have made this drive.
Highway 17 connects with U.S. 441 several miles south of Clayton, Ga.; it is our favorite mountain road. It runs right smack dab through Cherokee and into the heart of the Smokey Mountain National Park and crosses the mountains to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.
Our lodging for the weekend had been previously managed so when we arrived in Cherokee, we bridled Little Red across the river to our favorite cafe on the Reservation, the Little Princess Restaurant; it is one of the most fundelicious eateries in North Carolina.
After helping ourselves to the bountiful buffet, we moved across the street for dessert—flavorful ice cream at our pet ice cream parlor.
B. J. likes to plunder the shops in Cherokee. You can literally spend days scouting the countless arts and crafts offered in the numerous shops. You can s$$$pend lots$$$ of money too.
Cherokee is the gateway to the Smokey Mountain National Park and is nestled snugly among awesome mountains. The fall leaves carpeted the mountains in vibrant array. We strolled arm in arm and shopped and fed the bears and made oodles of pictures and remembered the many fun bygone days in this place. Our fall fling in the Smokies was getting off to a great start. Tomorrow, we would ride the Smokey Mountain Train deep into the Mountains.
It was getting late. It was time to pick up our keys and check out our lodging.
A chill was in the air as we unloaded our travel stuff from Little Red’s saddlebags into the cozy cottage—snuggling weather. After getting everything in place, we piled onto the comfortable couch for some cuddling time. Later, we hit the sack with thoughts of the Smokey Mountain Train dancing in our heads.
The next morning was indeed huddling weather in Cherokee, 35 degrees.
We had to be at Bryson City at 1:00 p.m. to get in line to board the Smokey Mountain Train. We had reservations for standard seating on car No. 4.
The exciting drive to Bryson city was sensational. The people had outdone themselves in generating astonishing fall ornamentation; it was simply adorable.
Arriving in charming Bryson City, we found Little Red a hitching rail and tied her up then we set out to explore the surroundings, take lots of pictures, hit the shops and find us a quaint mountain bistro to have lunch before heading for the depot, which was right down the street. There would be food on the train but that would come later. The trip would last four-and-one-half hours.
Although eating places abounded, we chose the Everett Street Diner. The savory aroma emanating from the interior drew us like magnets. The food was even more flavorful than the fragrance. Those mountain cooks are great.
Soon, it was time to make our way to boarding stating No. 4 to await the Smokey Mountain train.