Donna and I traveled to Knoxville for a Punch Brothers concert on May 21; they performed at the beautiful Bijou theater, the fourth oldest building in the city. We arrived about 90 minutes before the show and enjoyed a leisurely stroll around downtown beforehand. As always, the band performed an incredible show. The crowd was an especially inconsiderate one, however, with people constantly leaving and entering in the middle of songs for the entire duration of the show.
We stayed at Headrick's River Breeze motel in Townsend, a sleepy little town on the northern border of the Smoky Mountain National Park, and only about half an hour from downtown Knoxville. It's a great motel owned by a nice couple, with fair rates, very clean rooms, and nice porches with a fantastic view.
View from the porch:
I got in some good reading the next morning on that porch while Donna caught a few extra winks. While she got ready I ran down to the IGA just down the road and got us a pretty good breakfast spread from their deli. After eating we headed to Cades Cove in the National Park. It is an eleven mile loop through a nineteenth century community with several homes, churches, and farm buildings still intact. The scenery is beautiful and wildlife is abundant; we saw many deer and a couple of black bears.
Cabin built in 1822 by John Oliver, the first European settler in the area.
Waterwheel of a functioning gristmill:
Black bear in a tree:
Cicadas were rampant in the area as well; there was an occurrence of a lengthy life cycle maturing (possibly a 13 or 17 year life cycle.) There was a constant hum in the area, which could get quite loud at times.There were lots of butterflies in the area, and we saw some very large clusters of them.
We were pretty famished after that, so we enjoyed a steak and shrimp dinner at Timbers Restaurant right across from the hotel, then a lazy hour or so at the hotel, after which we headed back into Knoxville. We visited one of our favorite stores, the Mast General Store, and then wandered down to a free block party / concert. The band was jamming pretty good, but there were tons of people there, so we didn't get real close to the stage and see the band. We did manage to duck into an ice cream parlor and find a spot to sit to enjoy some tasty churned product, though. I mentioned to Donna at one point that we were hearing the third Presidents of the United States of America song of the evening; I figured the performers were a cover band. We later learned that that WAS the Presidents! I enjoyed their music several years back but didn't know they're still together; they seem to, in fact, be experiencing a decent comeback.
We took the scenic route home on Friday, driving down the western Foothills Parkway; along it we stopped to hike to the top of a hill topped with an observation/weather tower, where we were treated to breathtaking views:
From there we proceeded to ride the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, a road I have ridden many times on my motorcycles, but had never driven. That was a hoot! Plus Donna got to see what it was all about. We stopped at the Crossroads of Time for a cold drink and to check out the bike action; I felt odd walking around in shorts and sneakers instead of my riding gear.
Killboy snapped a photo of us:
We then drove 28 to Franklin and then 64 to Hendersonville, where we got on the interstate for the remainder of the drive home.
What a great trip! Awesome concert, great hotel, great visit to the Smokies, fun time in downtown Knoxville, great drive home. Can't wait to do it again!
Here are all the photos that I took.