Taking the bypass, we headed out of Gatlinburg, avoiding the crowds waiting for the Jurassic Park ride, the Titanic or the Hatfields and McCoys. We entered the Smoky Mountain Parkway and were struck by its beauty. Each curve brought a vista more beautiful than the next. The smoke fog swirled atop the mountains, giving them a blue hue.
I took many pictures, the one above is just an example. At the end of the Great Smoky Mountain Parkway, we entered the village of Cherokee. We wandered around the shops featuring locally made crafts. I bought a box made from horsehair pottery and Brian bought a buffalo tooth necklace. I also bought a bracelet fashioned from seed beads that the Cherokee believe are the tears shed during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s during the Indian relocation. In book two, Anne and CC visit the Cherokee village so these facts are helpful to know.
We then drove along a one lane highway that curved up and down and around the mountains. We were off to the mines, literally. I had researched and decided the best place to try our luck was the Sheffield Mine outside Franklin. Plus it had covered flume lines and advertised “clean restrooms.”
The restrooms were clean at least. After climbing the steep hill down to the flume line, Brian and I each collected our native buckets, unseeded, but possibly including a North Carolina ruby or sapphire, pink not blue. We sat at the flume line and cleaned stones and acted like rock tumblers til my arms ached. Brian found a 15 carat ruby and several smaller ones. I splurged and bought a “sparkler” bag. I quickly found an ametrine, half amethyst, half citrine.
Then we headed to our hotel to wash the dirt off. We enjoyed a simple meal in our room, finished proofing “Murder by the Spoonful” and watched America’s Next Food Network Star. Oh, and munched on donut gems.