Saturday July 14th 2018
Today began with a surprise rain storm. It rained for about and hour. Checking the weather radar on my phone it looked like the storm popped up right overhead and didn’t move very much. There were scattered very isolated storms all over the area for the first two thirds of the day. Toward evening the conditions improved and the sun came out. The temperature was in the seventies most of the day only breaking eighty when the sun came out.
The rain put a delay into my plan to head into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park before the crowds. I didn’t leave my RV home until ten in the morning. By that time, my prediction of heavy traffic was more than fulfilled. I was in heavy stop and go traffic most of the way to the park. In the park the traffic was moving right along, but the parking areas were all full to overflowing. The trail head for Laurel Falls that I was planning to stop at was so congested, a park ranger was on traffic duty. He was stopping people from parking along the road.
I continued my drive along the park road. The narrow curvy road followed the Little River closely. You were either flirting with a drop into the river or hugging a rock wall to allow oncoming traffic to pass. If I wasn’t driving, I’d have been fighting nausea it was so twisty turny. I stopped at several of the less congested pullouts along the way to watch the river flow. The river got faster and rougher as the altitude decreased and the water volume increased. Near the town of Townsend a national park authorized concessionaire was doing a brisk business renting tubes and ferrying riders along a slightly calmer section of the river. The river was full of people of all ages floating down the river on the tubes.
After about twenty miles on the park road, I returned to the commercial world in Townsend. I still had a long drive back to Pigeon Forge on US 321. It was only slightly better than the park road. It was a little straighter with wider shoulders, but when it turned there was usually a building right on the edge of the road. Traffic was also heavy, but got much worst when I reached Pigeon Forge. Coming south into the park this morning the stop and go traffic was mostly go. Heading north back to my RV home the stop and go traffic was mostly stop for several miles.
I did more driving than walking today, but it was still a good touring day.