After working on the 1st we drove to Knoxville to see Ming.  She is not getting any better.  It really isn’t looking good.   We stopped at Wendy’s and ate, then home to bed.

            On Tuesday the 2nd, the Dr. called and said he would have a couple of other Dr.s to examine Ming and they would call us later in the day after they consulted.  Around 4 in the afternoon he called back and said the consensus was that she would not get well and recommended euthanasia.  Dick hung up the phone and we both had a good cry before calling back and giving our consent.  We wanted to be with her and drove to Knoxville.  She was brought to a room and we were given some time with her to say goodbye.  Then the drugs were administered to her as we told her how much she was loved.  It was a very hard evening and we were devastated to lose her.  She was cremated and her ashes are with us.

            We decided to take advantage of some of the perks offered to Dollywood employees by various attractions in town.  We took in a great show of Chinese acrobats at Cirque de Chine.  This troop of young people are really amazing.   We also went to the Legends show where numerous show business personalities were impersonated.  The show began with Barney Fife of “The Andy Griffith Show”.  Others were Kenny Rogers, Buddy Holly and of course, Elvis.  

            One of our favorite places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Cades Cove area.  We drove out one day for a visit.  We stopped at the  Elijah Oliver        homestead.  

            At the Cable Mill area we enjoyed the music of a couple on the porch of the park store.  We toured the 1879 farm house and the mill.   It was an enjoyable day.  We did see one mother bear and her cub, but they were back from the road and we were unable to get pictures. 

            The next attraction we visited was the “Magic Beyond Belief” show.  The show is headlined by Terry Evanswood and he is wonderful!  The evening flew by fast and we enjoyed the many tricks he did.  Part of the evening also showcases some beautiful wild cats from a sanctuary near here.  A beautiful Cervil cat was introduced and a white tiger was used at the end of the show.  We were fortunate to get a great photo of him, although he seemed to be bored at the whole prospect.

            We have been to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park many times but there are some areas of the park that we have never visited.  We took a day and went over I-40 to North Carolina to visit the Cataloochee area.  This area was the site of 2 towns before the park was formed. 

            It was a fun trip getting to Cataloochee.  We left I-40 and drove as directed on a narrow black-top road for about 10 miles.  Then the road became gravel.  Dick kept asking Millie if she was sure this was the way!  She has been known to get us into some sticky situations! 

            When you enter the valley, there are some of the buildings from the past that have been preserved.  The Palmer Chapel is a beautiful building sitting in a forest clearing.  It does not face the present road, but when you walk to the front, you can see remnants of the old unpaved road that ran past. 

            While visiting the church, we heard the sounds of what was our main objective to coming here.  In 2001 a small herd of 25 Elk were re-introduced to the park in this valley. There are now around 100 Elk in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

As it was rut season, the bulls were bellowing and could be heard for quite a distance. 

 We drove further into the valley, stopping to visit the 2 room Beech Grove School Hose, constructed in 1901. Of the 3 schools in the valley, this is the only one left.  

 We then parked the truck and walked along the road in the direction of the sound of the Elk.  Our first encounter was a young cow and bull.  As the bull was only a youngster, he had not reached breeding age and the pair was just grazing.  We met one of the volunteers who have kept track of the herd in this area and he told us he was surprised that the cow was this far from a harem.  We enjoyed watching the pair before walking further on. 

            Near the Hiram Caldwell farm, we finally spotted the bull responsible for making such noise.  He had several females with him and was working very hard to keep them together.  One particular cow had wondered off and lain down in a low hollow in the ground.  He ran over and chased her back over with the harem.  What a bossy guy! 

            We walked through the Caldwell house. Built in 1901, this was a much fancier home than the little log houses over in Cades Cove.  The interior contained a lot of stained beadboard and dental molding trim.  The staircase had turned spindles in the handrail.  Millie had a great time reading the ads on the newspapers that covered the wall in a second floor bedroom. 

            The Palmer house  was built by George Lafayette Palmer around 1860.  The Palmer family was one of the prominent families of the Cataloochee .  An exhibit with photos of the valley when it was inhabited and many of the people who lived there is contained in one of the rooms. 

            We drove back to I-40 (yes, by the same route) and stopped for dinner at Ruby Tuesday before going home.                 

(Lots of new photos in the gallery, take a look.  We couldn't link to all of them.)