This weekend, Elyse spent Saturday and Sunday with Granny and Pa, while Jessica and Mommy and Daddy (or Anna and Chris, as everyone besides our children call us, or Anna and I, as I refer to us) went on a drive up into the mountains.
We drove up US 441 (my favorite route) through north Georgia, stopping at the Tallulah Point Overlook in Tallulah Falls to look at the gorge and various rustic knickknacks, and buy snacks:
and then we went up into North Carolina, our drive slowing to a crawl as we went through Franklin's downtown Halloween festival, and then stopped for lunch at the Haywood Smokehouse in Dillsboro (it was the Dillsboro Smokehouse when I stopped there two years ago on a similar drive). The barbecue was fantastic. Unfortunately, none of us took any pictures of the building or the food or us eating it.
After that, we drove through Cherokee, NC, and into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (or GSMNP for short), where we walked around the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the Mountain Farm Museum for about an hour:
(Jessica took this picture of me taking a picture of her.)
We then drove up into GSMNP, stopping a couple of times at scenic overlooks:
and then we stopped at Newfound Gap at the North Carolina/Tennessee border, where we walked around and explored the Rockefeller Memorial for a while:
Jessica and Anna walked about a tenth of a mile on the Appalachian Trail:
Jessica found a rock with a hole in it that was just right for her arm:
(I suspect the hole wasn't actually made for that purpose, however.)
From here, we drove a bit north with the intention of going out the north end of the park, through Gatlinburg, and into Pigeon Forge for supper. However, the traffic came to a virtual standstill--in the space of twenty minutes, we only went one mile, which meant it would take us three hours to make it out of the park at that point. So, we turned around and drove many, many miles to our hotel in Cornelia, Georgia; it was pretty far away, but the closest place I could find a decently-priced room at this time of year (what with all the fall leaf-watchers and all).
The next morning we spent some time walking around the (basically deserted) downtown area of Cornelia. I was very happy to learn that Jessica shares my love of exploring small towns:
(All the pictures of Anna and me were taken by Jessica with her own camera. Thanks, Jessica!)
After that, we headed for home, stopped for lunch (and a bit of looking around) at the Mall of Georgia, and picked up Elyse around 3:00.
It was a wonderful trip, even if a little too short. I can't wait to go on our next one!