Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge.
We were in time to take a tour of the distillery which was really interesting. After the tour, Mike and I visited the 'Squire Room' since we were both Tennessee Squires. Ms. Cathy greeted us and escorted us into the Squire Room. She checked our credentials and was surprised to see I had been a Squire for such a long period of time. We took some pictures and were given some gifts....a sampling of Single Barrel and a Squire pin. When we left the distillery we drove into Lynchburg, which was another small southern town with the town square and all the stores around it. We walked around the town and purchased some Jack Daniels items. We then headed over to a town called Tullahoma, about 10 miles away, to find a hotel for the night. Tullahoma was a little bigger than the other towns we had driven through. We found a hotel and were giving the name of a local restaurant where the local people ate. The dinner at the local place was very good and reasonable. We all had a bottle of beer to celebrate our first full day on the rode with the 'twins'. The cars had been great, beating all of our expectations. There were still a few things we weren't to sure how to work or some settings we needed to change, but overall, the cars were outstanding. After dinner, we were about to start back to the hotel and realized this would be the first time we had driven at night. The lights all came on as we started the car and the heads-up display was awesome. I felt I was in a jet plane.
On The Road Again
The next morning, after breakfast, we headed back to the Jack Daniels distillery for a BBQ lunch. Once we arrived at the distillery, we boarded a bus that drove us up to the top of 'the hollow'. A huge BBQ area had been built on top of the hill that overlooked the entire valley. We were greeted by representatives of the distillery and given glasses of lemonade. There was a band playing country/western music as we walked around and took in the views. Once everyone had been bussed up, the food was served. The menu was a true southern one with pulled pork, chicken, all sorts of greens and special Jack Daniels prepared apples. This was followed by Jack Daniels pecan pie. We were all totally stuffed by the time the feast had ended.
Nothing like a good meal with best friends.
When we got back to our cars we headed towards Gatlinburg at the base of the Smoky Mountains. We had been to Gatlinburg in the early 70s and it was a small town that looked like a little Swiss village up in the hills. After driving for a couple of hours, we put the tops up at one of our pit stops and it turns out we did the right thing. Just outside of Gatlinburg is Pigeon Hallow, the home of Dollywood. The traffic was worse than New York City during rush hour. It took us over an hour to go 10 miles through Pigeon Hallow and the pollution from the cars was at an all time high. Having the tops up, allowed us to use the air conditioning and minimize the pollution. The place was lined with fast food places, chapels to get married, Elvis impersonator shows and hotels. It was a zoo!
We expected Gatlinburg would be a little better....it was NOT. What used to be a beautiful little town up in the mountains turned into a circus. The traffic was bumper to bumper. We finally found a motel where it looked like the cars would be OK. Of course the safety of the cars was our first concern even thought the wives didn't totally agree. After unpacking we walked around the town. It was packed with people and we were told the following weekend would be even worse because once the leaves started to turn colors everyone journeyed here to see them. We met a couple of bikers and they told us we had to drive the Tail of the Dragon which was relatively close. The Smokey Mountains are beautiful any time of the year, but the fall is outstanding. Some of the trees had some color on them and all the views were out of a magazine.
So, with another fine early fall day, off we went to find the Tail of the Dragon. After about an hours ride, we found it. The Tail of the Dragon is about 11 miles long and has 218 turns, all in the mountains. There are no wrong turns, if you miss, you're history. The ride was great and I finally got to really try out my paddles. The cars couldn't get enough and responded to our every wish on command. The turns were so tight and quick that Mike's wife almost got sick in his new car...not good. At the end of the Dragon is a biker's hangout and we stopped. Most of the biker's were friendly and loved the Vettes and came over to talk to us about the ride. We got a couple of decals stating that we had driven the Tail of the Dragon. I put the decal on my door jam so anyone looking at the car would know it had made the journey. We also got a picture of a tree where all the parts that fall off the bikes and cars along the road are hung. I guess it's to show the people it's not as easy as it sounds?