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This is an old TR. I split it off from the main North Carolina thread into its own thread.

Author Topic: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip (2013)  (Read 156 times)

Offline Something Fishy

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Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip (2013)
« on: August 02, 2015, 03:11:06 AM »
Trip Report

Contrary to my usual trip reports, this one will be short and sweet :D. All it really covers is three hours in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

On Pesach of 2013, my 8-year-old nephew stole my afikomen and wouldn't return it unless I promised to take him on a trip somewhere. Nothing worked out during that summer, so a couple of days before Sukkos I jumped on AA.com to see what's available for 4.5k Avios. Both RDU and CLT had availability. Seeing that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a couple of hours away from CLT, I grabbed the tickets.

My nephew had never been on a plane before, so we decided not to tell him where we're going and have it be a surprise. The expression on his face was priceless when we showed up to LGA ;D. And even better, there was an issue with the jetbridge and so boarding was done from the tarmac. He was ecstatic.



Climb-out from LGA:



GW Bridge:



We landed in CLT, picked up a brand-new Yukon form the Executive Aisle for ~$30 a day, and headed to our Home Away rental in Maggie Valley. The place was small but just what we needed, and around 45 minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The front porch was perfect for our pop-up sukkah:





The Milky Way overhead:



Alas this was only a quick test shot; by the time I was set up for some nicer pictures clouds had moved in and obscured the stars completely.

The next morning I woke my nephew at five so that we could go see sunrise over the Smokies; my wife was smart enough to stay in bed and let us go without her ;D.

The road to the park is the famous and spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah Nation Park in Virginia to the Smokies. In the dark there wasn't much to see other than some cool tunnels through the mountains:



After a bit we entered the park and headed to Morton Overlook. I had selected this spot because I knew that the sun will be coming up in the perfect position to light up the endless layered valleys visible from here. It was freezing cold while we waited, but after a while the sky started getting lighter and the endless mountains were revealed:



Finally the sun came up and bathed the scene in an otherworldly light. This was one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever witnessed:



Once the show was over, we headed over to Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in the park and straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. The views were fantastic, but the beautiful sunrise light was fading and the harsh morning light was taking over. It was a lovely place, nonetheless:



The summit itself was still wraped in the quick-rising fog that give these mountains their name, so we didn't venture higher than the parking lot.

The "smoke" rising:



Enjoying the view:



Heading back down we came across some elk:



As well as some people doing drive-by iPad photography ::):



Driving was magical, with the sun filtering thought the trees and fog:





Once we were back at the cabin we ate and packed up. We then spent some time "mining" at the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, where the kids had a blast and made a royal mess in the sluice boxes.

Beauty can be found everywhere. This is in the back or a random gas station in NC, behind the dumpsters and all that, but you'd never know. We spent some time taking portraits here and came away with some lovely shots:



All too soon it was back at the airport:



All in all this was a short and sweet Chol Hamoed trip. We didn't end up doing much really (day one mainly involved getting lost in the boonies with a defective GPS), but we still had a great time. The Smokies are definitely underrated here on DDF; I think it makes a perfect two or three day getaway from NY. They truly are spectacular.

And my nephew definitely got the coolest afikomen present ever ;D.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 02:15:05 AM by Something Fishy »
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Offline VacationLover

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2015, 03:17:49 AM »
Nice. I knew you can take photos anywhere and make them beautiful
« Last Edit: August 02, 2015, 03:22:48 AM by VacationLover »

Offline Joe4007

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2015, 05:06:56 AM »
Awesome. Thanks for the write up.

Offline ChAiM'l

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2015, 05:30:13 AM »
Great stuff!

Offline sammy n

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2015, 06:29:58 AM »
Nice!! I wouldn't mind being your nephew!!

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2015, 07:30:22 AM »
Cool! Thanks for putting this together, was a nice read!

Offline morgs

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2015, 11:00:17 AM »
Thanks for keeping us entertained!! We'll take one of these any time! ;D

Offline Mountain Man

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2015, 11:09:10 AM »
I love the pre-sunrise photo. Amazing pictures.
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Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2015, 11:32:24 AM »
Nice TR! It's on my list of Chol HaMoed trip to take from PHL, but it'll have to wait until after this year's Acadia NP trip.

Offline Something Fishy

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2015, 11:27:34 PM »
Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed.


Nice!! I wouldn't mind being your nephew!!

ALOL

Nice TR! It's on my list of Chol HaMoed trip to take from PHL, but it'll have to wait until after this year's Acadia NP trip.

Acadia has the advantage of being more varied (mountains, beaches, ocean), but the Smokies are more epic. Both are great Chol Hamoed options.
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Offline stbaum

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Re: Great Smoky Mountains Chol Hamoed Trip
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2015, 04:59:58 PM »
looks like all you need is a sunrise and some mountains to make a spectacular memory :)
amazing pics and what a cool and original afikoman gift
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