Cherokee & Maggie Valley, North Carolina

Tiki headed out for his annual trip to North Carolina on Sept. 6, 2019. It was a long drive, but sometimes driving can be more fun than flying - and definitely less expensive.

Made it through Missouri, which was the only place we ran into a traffic jam the entire way there and back - surprising. 
But no complaints - Tiki would rather sit and wait in traffic than be the cause of the back-up; a quick prayer for those who the ambulance was heading to.

After that, it was clear sailing on through Missouri and into Illinois and Indiana. This was a nice memorial at one of the Illinois rest stops. As Tiki travels, he never forgets those who have helped make this country what it is - and those who sacrificed all for America.

Finally stopped in Richmond, Kentucky — Tiki was one tired little squirrel. 

We won't say much about this hotel because in their defense they are in the middle of a remodel - but seriously ---- who does this?!?!?!

The next day was a relaxing drive on into Sparta. Along the way Tiki stopped for a break at the Cumberland Gap National Park. What a great place for a stop. I would have been nice to have had more time to explore the trails and sites of the park. 
Tiki said he wasn't scared at all of the little black bear who was sniffing to see if he would make a tasty snack - he says he knew all along the bear wasn't alive.


After a day in Sparta, Tiki headed out to explore the Maggie Valley and Cherokee part of North Carolina, in the great Smoky Mountains.
First thing on the agenda - find the HomeAway cabin that was rented for the week - Running Bear Falls. It looked lovely in the photos, but would it be as beautiful in person?
The road up to the cabin was only 2.3 miles off the blacktop - but it took an average of 15 minutes to get there. Windy roads, blind curves and a couple of three-point turns on the narrow mountain roads and we made it. 
As soon as Tiki stepped out of the truck - he knew he was home away from home. The sound of the rushing mountain stream filled the air and the air was warm with just a slight breeze. 

He immediately headed down the small path to explore
It wasn't until the following morning though that Tiki had a chance to really enjoy the mountain. With only the caretaker for a neighbor - up the road a little way, this location was relaxing and secluded. Even though there were all kinds of stuff in Cherokee to go do and see, his first day at Running Bear Falls was spent right there. 

He enjoyed a relaxing morning on the swing next to the stream

Had a cup of coffee

Read a book

And found BUCKEYES!!!!! Now buckeyes are NOT good for Tiki's human friends - in fact, they are quite poisonous if eaten, but for squirrels - they are wonderful. Buckeyes were falling from the trees and Tiki was eating them up. They're supposed to be good luck for humans - as long as they jsut carry them and don't eat them. 

 After a wonderful day totally relaxing, unplugging (even though there was internet reception) and hiking down the mountain and back up again - through the stream. It was time to relax in the hot tub.


Over the next couple of days, Tiki spent a lot of time playing outside. But he did also find time to head into Cherokee where he checked out the museum. They told the story of the Cherokee people from their earliest days. The exhibits were well done, but the murals that accompanied them were phenomenal

Up the road from the museum was a Cherokee village. A guide led small groups through the village and explained the work of their people. Tiki was especially impressed with the way the guide seemed to be genuinely interested in helping people understand his nation. We never felt like he was simply doing a job - you could see and hear the pride he has in the Cherokee people and their story.
 Along the way women did beadwork

And he demonstrated the use of a blow gun

Several of the Cherokee people came together to demonstrate several of the dances their people did for fun and ritual.

And he showed how the canoes were made - and a whole lot more. If anyone has a couple hours and they are in the Cherokee area - don't just go to the casino, which Tiki never did make it to, take time and learn about this proud nation.

After a fun-filled and very educational day, Tiki went home with a new friend he found in downtown Cherokee. Wahoo has a new home - off the shelves in a store and into the heart of a special woman.

Eventually, it was time to head back to Sparta for a couple days. But not before a wonderful lunch in the charming little town of Blowing Rock. a Chocolate mint martini and a slider trio with a cup of clam chowder at Foggy Rock topped off a great day


And that closed off another trip to the mountains of North Carolina.


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