We started the day again much like the day before, breakfasting with gorgeous views of the Smoky Mountains and catching up with Grannie & Grandad about their day yesterday.
Today we were taking the girls horse riding and en route up to Cades Cove, we stopped at the Smoky Mountains Visitor Centre to get the paperwork so the girls could complete their Junior Ranger Badges.
The National Park Service run fantastic Junior Ranger Programs to get children of all ages interested in their National Parks and learning how they can protect them now and in the future. It's a great program, where in each of the parks, kids interview Rangers, complete games, and answer questions about the park and the National Park Service. At the end of their experience in the park, they are sworn in as Junior Rangers and receive a special certificate and official Junior Ranger badge.
We love this program, Ruby completed her first one last year in the Grand Tetons, so she was very keen to get one for the Smoky Mountains.
They both began completing the booklets on their way to horse riding.
We arrived at Cades Coves riding stables and put our names down for a horse ride, we were all going to ride, even me, who isn't too keen on horses, Grannie was the only one not to ride, she opted for the horse and carriage ride instead, I was very close to joining her on this.
Grannie got called on her carriage ride, long before our horse ride was ready and on her way back we were finally called for our turn (it is a come on first basis)
So we all lined up, the girls eager to mount their horses, me not so, Ruby's horse was called Rose, Tilly had Domino, Mr C had Skye , I had Mindy and Grandad had Kallie.
Once we were all on our horses, we were off for our trail, this was the first horse ride the girls have had on big horses without being lead, they were on their own and loving it.
We all thoroughly enjoyed it, we didn't see any bears or deer, but it was just wonderful meandering through the woods on horseback. The girls said it was the best ride ever.
After the horse ride and a quick bite for lunch, we headed off to do the Cades Cove 11 mile one-way Loop, scattered along the loop are historic eighteenth & nineteenth century buildings such as churches, a working mill, barns, log houses as the first Europeans settled in the cove in 1818.Plus there is beautiful scenery of the Smoky mountains and the chance you may spot a bear or two. We didn't however.
But on our way back to Buckberry lodge the road followed a gorgeous meandering stream/river an as we drove along side of it, we noticed lots of people veering to the bank with cameras in hand, since our trip last year, we have found out this can mean only one thing, something worth stopping for so we did and much to our surprise and delight it was a bear.
It was the highlight of the day seeing a wild bear.
Instead of going back to the Lodge we decided to go straight into Gatlingburg and met up with Grannie & Grandad for an early dinner, after dinner we explored Gatlingburg some more and found the original moonshine shop - Old Smoky Moonshine Distillery.
It certainly had been a wonderful day and evening, and tomorrow we were moving on again, travelling through the Smoky Mountains to North Carolina to travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
But first we had some Junior Ranger things to do.