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I stumbled across Monroe County while searching destinations in Tennessee. What drew me to Monroe County was the Lost Sea. How unique, to find a lake in a cave! I had to see it!
It so happened that we were going to be doing some filming at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and Monroe County basically connects to the Smoky Mountains via the Cherohala Scenic Skyway. It made perfect sense that our route home would be diverted through this beautiful region.
It was also very welcoming!
The folks of Monroe County were very accommodating. The racing motorcycles on the backroad we took out of the park, however, weren't quite as accommodating. Once we got on the byway, it was smooth sailing and the rest of our journey went on without a hitch!
When traveling through new areas, we always risk not finding anything to film. We knew that the cave and the byway were guarantees! Both looked fascinating.
We took a back road from Cade's Cove to the Cherohala Scenic Byway. It was a quite a drive. We only saw a couple of other vehicles during our drive. Had we have gotten rain, the road would have been impassible by car. There was no turning around...it was a one-way narrow road, so we had to keep going. At one point Todd was completely convinced that he broke a rear shock. It was very rough and at times we were driving through small streams. What an adventure! Luckily everything was fine, and slowly but surely, we made it to the Byway.
Luckily, the creek beds were very low!
It seems I recall driving through many small towns while in the south, many of which seemed to be followed by a -ville. Crossville, Knoxville, Madisonville, Nashville, Sevierville....and more. You get the drift...Just thought I would point that out...Not that it's of any significance.
This trip came with challenges, aside from that back road I told you about earlier. Filming in a dark cave proved to be VERY challenging, as did learning the correct pronunciation of the word 'Cherohala'. (the word 'chero' comes from 'Cherokee', and the 'hala' is apparently pronounced 'HAY-la'. Not 'holla', which is how the Minnesota gal in me kept wanting to pronounce it.
Our tour guide at the cave was awesome! He gave us plenty of laughs. When we emerged from the original cave opening, we were greeted by a huge spider, which he told us was probably a Brown Recluse. I was bitten by one in Florida a few years ago, so that was a little freaky for me to see. The cave itself was amazing though, and they took great care of us. We had lunch with Julie, head of the Monroe County Chamber.
Here's us by one of the big columns in the cave. Notice. that Todd even sweats in a 58 degree cave!And he calls me cold-blooded...maybe he's just hot-blooded?
We also stopped by Purdy's Petting Zoo...totally unplanned. Happened to be driving through town and saw a sign...glad we did! What a fun place! We stayed at the Motor Inn in Madisonville. (If it were further north, it would just be 'Madison'...) :)
These alpacas dressed up as us for Halloween.
We hope you enjoy exploring this region with us. We had a lot of fun and we hope you do, too!