We just got back from a trip to east Tennessee. I have relatives there and it has been a while since we visited. When I was a kid, we used to go to Tennessee almost every summer, but we lived a lot closer then. It’s a 16-hour drive from Texas. Of course the big attraction in east Tennessee (besides my relatives) is the Great Smoky Mountains. This time of year the woods are full of rhododendrons.
You see a lot more different flowers in late April or early May but the rhododendrons are really spectacular. These were on the Parsons Branch road, a one-way drive through the woods. We did see this terrific milkweed in Cades Cove:
I think it is common milkweed, or Asclepias syriaca. It has a lovely grapey fragrance.
Cades Cove is often a good place to see wildlife. Although it was the middle of the day (not the best time for critters) we did see a black bear far off browsing the berries, and a white-tailed deer with a tiny fawn. The fawn could barely see over the tall grass and traveled in a series of leaps trying to keep up with its mother. I can see deer almost any time in my front yard snacking on my flowers and shrubs but fawns are adorable. It’s a shame they grow up into eating machines.
We also drove along the “Dragon Tail” (Route 129) which is a very winding road which follows the Little Tennessee River to Fontana Dam. Of course the Smokies are full of hydroelectric dams. This is Calderwood Dam which is the smallest one I’ve seen in Tennessee:
You have to be out early in the morning, usually, to see the mist that gives the Smokies their name. The haze in this picture is mostly an indication that I need a UV filter.