The Great Smoky Mountains
Chimney. I suppose the first image that would come to one’s mind when they hear or read that word would be something that is attached to a fireplace. When I hear the word, I immediately think of my favorite place in the world. It is the Chimney’s Picnic ground in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, featured in this photo.
The Smokies, as we fondly refer to them, are home to my family. Knoxville, Tennessee is my hometown and is in the foothills of the Smokies. I now live only about an hour and a half drive from them.
I have too many memories to count of family picnics there. In my childhood, we were sure to see a black bear or two on every visit. We often drove up early in the morning and cooked breakfast there. Mother would make homemade buttermilk biscuits before we left home. She would fry sausage, eggs, ham, or bacon in an iron skillet over the open fire. I can smell it cooking! A picnic lunch always included fried chicken, baked beans, and all the fixings.
After eating, Daddy would take us hiking. I have hiked most of the trails in the Smokies. They are all beautiful and filled with all sorts of flora and fauna.
On one such occasion, I decided to stay back at the picnic site with Mother while the others went on the hike. Shortly after they left, a huge papa bear sauntered down into our picnic area. He headed straight for us, because he could smell the drippings on the skillet. Mother and I took off running and watched at a distance as he licked the skillet. He got piping mad when the skillet burned his tongue. He helped himself to our food on the table.
It wasn’t long after that my sisters came running down the mountain screaming. Daddy had come eyeball to eyeball to a bear. The bear was standing on his back legs. That was an eventful picnic!
We spent many hours jumping from boulder to boulder on the river that runs through the park. Someone always lost their footing and fell in the ice cold water. That was all a part of the experience. I’ve spent many hours just sitting on those rocks and day dreaming.
If you are looking for a place to get away for a vacation, this should be at the top of your list. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, home to Dollywood and Splash Country, will keep you busy for weeks. The hiking, camping, fishing, are all outdoor sports to enjoy. Tubing is another popular attraction. Cades Cove, Clingmon’s Dome are must see vistas.
Come visit my Smokies and understand first hand why they are so special to me. You might just want to stay and never go home.