We stopped at the visitors center for Cumberland Gap and got a stamp in our National Park Passport book. We purchased this book a few years ago and keep it in the bike. The book lists all the National Parks and sites maintained by the National Park Service. When you visit these places they have a stamp with the location and the date, you simply stamp your book on the appropriate page to document the day you were there. We have several stamps now and look forward to one day filling our book completely. Here is a photo of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel at the Kentucky/Tennessee line.
We continued on 25E down to US 321 where we turned back to the east heading towards Gatlinburg. The road follows along a river in the foothills of the Smokies. We saw several campgrounds on this road that would be suitable for our rig and may consider a visit here again with the whole outfit.
We arrived in Gatlinburg at our motel about 3pm only to find out our room wasn't ready and would be 4pm before we could check in. We didn't let this bother us though and since it was in the low 90's we just pulled our swim trunks out of the suit case and changed in the lobby rest room and headed for the pool to get cooled off.
We stayed at the River Terrace Motel right off the "strip". The property consists of several buildings each from 3-5 stories and on several levels up from the street. We were on the highest level (of course) and had to go up 2 large hills to get to our room. Luckily the parking was level once up the hills. You entered our room on ground level but the other side was 2 stories up! We had a nice balcony that had a decent view and some chairs to lounge in. Our room is all the way on the right on the second floor in this photo.
And here is the view from the balcony.
We walked down to the strip looking for a dinner spot and found a good one. Bubba Gumps Shrimp! What a fun, high energy place. We shared a seafood steamer which was a big bucket of steamed shrimp, crab legs, mussells and clams. The meal was delicious and we took our time walking back to the motel just checking out the sites. I even agreed to ride the Sky Lift with Rudee! Those that know me well know I'm not a big fan of heights and have never been too keen on little chairs that dangle from wires. Rudee was surprised when I suggested it, the things we do for love :-).
Sunday we headed out a little too early. I figured all the stores would open by 9:00 but they all stayed closed until 10! We walked up the strip a little way and sat on a bench and waited until they started swinging the doors open. We looked in pretty much every shop along the strip and then some! I was a pooped puppy by the time we got back to the motel around 2pm. We headed for the pool again just to cool down. We saved our trip to the Aquarium for this afternoon figuring we could see it and then go to dinner. We dried off from the swim and got dressed again for our "date". We walked to the Aquarium which was right next door. There was a pretty good crowd but we were able to take our time and enjoyed the displays. They have the usual stuff you would expect plus they have a walkway glass tube that goes into/under the main tank where you can see all the fish and there large collection of sharks. Rudee hollored at these 2 guys and told them they had better smile or else!!
Here is Rudee petting a Horseshoe crab. "No Dear you have to put it back, we had sea food last night!"
We walked over to "No Way Jose" for a Mexican dinner and then back to the motel where we called it a night. We start on our Blue Ridge Parkway adventure first thing tomorrow (Monday). I'll keep you posted.