We were on the road for a very long time - and by long I mean two and a half weeks. So while the Government Shutdown affected our national park plans on Day 2, by Day 16 things were back up and running, and we were able to visit the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains!
We drove from Nashville to the edge of the park and spent the night in Gatlinburg - the tourist mecca of Middle America, like Hollywood Blvd on steroids (I'll spare you the photos because they'll make your eyes hurt. Lots of neon and blinking lights.)
The next day we awoke at dawn to watch the sun rise over the mountains from our hotel balcony...and then promptly went back to sleep until a normal waking hour. In the proper morning, we drove through the park to take in the beauty of the Smokies.
Just us, Mother Nature...and hundreds of senior citizens emerging from an endless line of tour buses.