The frigid temperatures of Winter finally broke just in time for the long President’s Day weekend (and our 7th anniversary) so we decided to take a short drive to the Smoky Mountains. For a lot of folks, the Smokies are just a place to shop, dine, and partake of cheesy tourist attractions (like hillbilly dinner shows and redneck comedy barns). We like the other side of the mountains – the less traveled, more serene side – the one with rocks and trees.
We spent the biggest part of our 2 day excursion searching for letterboxes. In total, we found 17 of them – some were in the cemetery, most were in parks, but one was actually hidden next to an outhouse from the 1800s. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, letterboxing really does take you to places you might not otherwise know existed.
When we go somewhere that we’ve been before, we like to find one “attraction” that we’ve never visited and give it a try. With the help of Groupon, we decided to check out RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo. Angie loves monkeys and this place was full of them – from tamarins to capuchins. We love zoos and wildlife parks BUT have very specific criteria for selecting which ones to visit. Our preference goes to rehabilitation centers or sanctuaries that take in neglected or exploited animals. Though RainForest Adventures doesn’t tout their work in this area, with a little digging I was able to find out that they were among several facilities to rescue animals from an abusive (and now permanently closed) zoo in Alabama last year.
We enjoyed watching the monkeys play and eat and we enjoyed feeding the goats, especially the tiny little babies that were born just last week.
The highlight of our trip was hiking to one of the area’s lesser-known but no-less beautiful waterfalls – Spruce Flat Falls.
The 2-mile round trip hike is rated “easy” in the guidebook. As we stood panting 1/10th of a mile up the first bend in the trail, we wondered who writes these guidebooks anyway?? The trip is not difficult but it is definitely not one that I would take a small child or a even picnic basket on. There are too many steep climbs and drop-offs to manage either.
We managed to make it though and like any other major (or minor) accomplishment, we were pretty psyched at having done so. The view at the end was phenomenal. I only wish it were summer and we could have played in the waterfall.