Very distracting to drive from Asheville to Nashville in the changing seasons. What an experience.
There are layers of color on mountains. The day we drove, there was snow melting and the trees were bursting out with orange, red and yellow. The road is very curved in places and tractor trailers struggled to make it up the hills and down the reclining elevations which make for all-eyes-on the road. That is a challenge because the scenery is just breathtakingly compelling.
When you hit mile marker 451 that means you are in Tennessee and 451 is the miles from one end to the other for driving the entire state of Tennessee. Limestone shoulders line the Smokey Mountain part of I-40 girded with rolling creeks and rivers that show themselves on each side of the road. Exit 447 has Bean Tree Cafe which offers nice sandwiches and beverages with a creekside outdoor area for a nice view, and pets are welcome. Exiting North Carolina, tunnels pop up after Maggie Valley then you reach the exits to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. There is a nice coffee shop in Dandridge and a view of a man-made lake. Just a pit stop really. Tennessee seasons are beautiful with contrast. Looking in the rearview mirror after the cross over the state line close to Del Rio, the mountains grow larger as two mountains turn into ridges of blue smokey mountains. Driving east the sun is on the left driver side since going east to west. (time of day may change the sun’s location)
Passing limestone and small valleys with bulging, raging streams of water, you can catch a glimpse in between the hilltops along the road coming toward the road. It’s a wonder how the evergreens, mostly cedars or pines can grow on those rocky shoulders without soil.
Hitting the plateau outside of Knoxville, there is a lake with elevation above Rockwood. Hmmm. Then you see the other side of the plateau as a mountain ridge pass Nashville. How many forks does the Caney Fork River have again?
Makes you want to sing “Rocky Top” and adopt a coon dog.