Smokey Mtn. NP-Gatlinburg, Laurel Falls


Today was a ‘sleep late and drive into town’ kind of day.  We loaded up and headed out to see what Gatlinburg, Tennessee is all about.

We proceeded down the winding mountain road toward Gatlinburg.  Trees which enveloped the road suddenly gave way to hotels & restaurants.  It was a stark contrast to how we’ve lived for the last 8 days.  Gatlinburg is the definition of a tourist town.  It survives and thrives on Smoky Mtn. NP visitors that, like us, get a hankerin’ for someone else to cook & serve us dinner or, those folks that like their adventure a few hours at a time with a short car ride back to a warm bed, hot shower, cold beer, and tasty BBQ.


Vickie and I decided to overindulge in a huge late breakfast.  I put back on the 4#’s I lost in the last week back on in one meal.  We walked down the street past three story restaurants, fudge stores, Gift shops, T-shirt specialty stores (Buy 1, get 2 Free!), and of course, ‘old time’ photos studios.

We were stopped numerous times on our walk and asked “ Are you married and happy, or just either one”.  Vickie let them know that we were both.  I added “also to each other”.  Apparently marriage was the criteria to qualify to listen to their spiel about buying a timeshare.  They offered us ‘free’ gifts, shows, meals, etc.  We politely listened, we are Minnesota nice.  Finally, I asked what the financial qualifications they might feel was absolutely necessary to afford these timeshares, i.e., jobs.  This is when we informed them that we were both unemployed and homeless, and lived ‘in a van down by the river’.  Currently it was the Little River in Elkmont campground.

Matt Foley

I guess the qualification was to have some income so after teasing a few of these pitch people we decided to behave like real tourists and get an ‘old time’ photo taken.  We tried to remake one we had done at Valleyfair in Shakopee, MN in 1983. Can you even recognize that we are the same people?

Vickie & Sean, Mike & Nadine in 1983
DSC_0001 (2)
Vickie & Sean 2016

On the way back to our campsite ‘in a van down by the river’ we stopped at Laurel Falls for a short easy hike.


20160506_165607Laurel falls was an easy 1.3 mile hike on a paved path.  It was great for a relaxation day stroll.  We also had the bonus of seeing our 1st bear in the Smoky Mountains.  It was a small black bear probably recently wakened from it winter slumber.  It was lazily grazing and generally ignoring the vehicles that were piling up packed with tourists.  People would stop in the middle of the road, jump out, and jockey for position to get a picture.


Next Stop.  Memphis!


3 thoughts on “Smokey Mtn. NP-Gatlinburg, Laurel Falls

  1. Gary used that “van down by the river” often. Now he’s threatening a shoe box down by the river! 😵

    I love the old time photos!! You both still look like babies!


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