There and Back Again – EIM in the Great Smoky Mountains

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This year’s EIM Big Adventure Part Deux to the Great Smoky Mountains rivaled our first trip back in 2013 as one of the most memorable EIM events. Over a nine-day period we made the transit and covered in excess of a thousand miles of unique, twisty, and scenic Appalachian Mountain roads, including some old favorites like the Dragon, Hellbender, TN-32, the Foothills Parkway, US-23 through the Cullasaja Gorge, and US-441 through Great Smoky Mountain National Park; and some great new discoveries like NC-209 south of Hot Springs, NC (aka, “The Rattler”), NC-281 north of Lake Toxaway, and NC/GA/SC-28 and back on SC/NC-107 (that’s right…three states!).

The noteworthy stops and sights are almost too numerous to mention, but here’s an attempt at a representative subset: the overnight in Shelbyville, KY and the Cattleman’s Roadhouse; Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky Ridge State Forest; the Cumberland Gap and Visitor’s Center; our superb condos at the Wyndham Resort in Sevierville, TN; the Grotto Falls Trail; the “unscheduled stop” in Townsend (oops); multiple Dragon runs and the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap; the kayak competition along the Nantahala; great Mexican food in Bryson City; the Hellbender; the scenic overlook on the Foothills Parkway; the breathtaking Sevierville sunset; cutting it loose on TN-32; Webb’s Market; Hot Springs, NC and the Iron Horse Station; Fines Creek; ice cream in Cherokee; putt-putt golf, homemade guacamole, and Council Bluffs pulled pork; Krispie Kremes; the slow slog around Cades Cove Scenic Loop; the trip to Knoxville and the shopping spree at Outmotoring; the friendly folk at MINI of Knoxville; seeing wild bears, elk, and more turkeys than people in the national park; looking over the top of the clouds at Newfound Gap; Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the Cullasaja Gorge; the Sports Page Sandwich Shop and all the gift nooks in Highlands, NC; the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel; Whitewater Falls; enjoying Steve and Kelly’s GoPro footage back at the condos; scaling the Chimney Tops Trail; the Artist’s Loop in Gatlinburg and the wonderful Wild Plum Tea Room; the twisty (albeit foggy) Blue Ridge Parkway; Waterrock Knob; the Pisgah Inn; and all of the fun evening meals together back at the big condo, courtesy of a bunch of our generous and thoughtful EIM folk!

We’ll give both Jeff and Sue N. and Pete and Chris N. the EIM maximum motoring mileage recognition — the former for their long Thursday jaunt up toward Blowing Rock, NC and run back on another great road (US-221) and the latter for their self-described brewery tour taking them all the way to Asheville, NC. The Bryant Family Drive back on the Dragon on Thursday gets special recognition too.

In summary, it was an amazing time with a bunch of wonderful Iowa MINI friends. We sincerely thank Peggy J., Steve M. and Bill and Alyce S. for facilitating our lodging at the Wyndham Resort.

Some photos from our trip have been added to our Photo Gallery. You can enjoy them directly by using the following link:

Photos from EIM Big Adventure Part Deux to the Great Smoky Mountains, 9-25-15 to 10-3-15

Be sure to check out the EIM Facebook Page for even more Big Adventure photos.

Thanks to everyone for the great memories!

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