Carrot and thyme soup
Hazelnut and blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon served on baby lettuce with blood orange vinaigrette
Beef rib eye served with a sour cherry reduction sauce, savory blue cheese and kale bread pudding and sauteed asparagus
Mixed berry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream
And a sample breakfast:
Seasonal fruit salad
Lemon & ricotta pancakes with whipped blood orange cream cheese
Are you hungry yet? I am--let's go back!
After all that food, some hiking was required. We went to the Joyce Kilmer Forest, which is a mature hardwood forest that remarkably was never timbered.
Here is the dedication plaque
Here is a view of the trail
It was so quiet in the forest, I actually heard a bird's wings as it was flying by (I think it was a cedar waxwing). The views in the forest were wonderful because the leaves aren't out yet and you can see for long distances.
The next hike was to the top of Huckleberry Knob. This was a hike from about 5,000 feet in elevation to over 5,500 feet, which is really high for the Great Smokey Mountains. The top of this mountain is "bald" and was used historically for grazing cattle. The U.S. Forest Service keeps it mowed to show its past use.
The Smokey Mountains always have a blue haze over them, hence the name, however in more recent years, a lot of the haze is smog. Not good.
Well now I am back to harsh reality but a little more rested and a little more relaxed and really grateful that there are National Parks and National Forests to escape to. Oh yeah and for lodges that serve coffee and cookies in the afternoon.