After last night's festivities we decided to sleep in till noon. It had been a cold night but the warmth of our bodies made it all bearable.
Upon waking we made a trip to find some wholesome mountain food. What we found was pizza, and it became clear that it was homemade after peeling wax paper pieces from the bottom.
With our bellies filled we made our way casually back to the campsite but not before stopping at a couple of quaint, roadside stores. One offered a Yogi Bear theme with life size Yogi and Boo Boo statues that captured our attention from the road. We took some photos and greeted the owner, leaving with a delicious, leather scented candle.
As we continued towards the campsite, Kelsea pointed out a delightful antique store that looked so rugged and rustic that I was keen to pull in, if only to take some photographs.
I'd only snapped a few shots before the owner, Kevin, came out and explained that usually, they don't allow photographers for fear that their antiques would be marked up and sold on eBay. Assuring him that these were only for our enjoyment, he began to show off us all of his treasures, inviting me to photograph almost everything.
Kevin was a stocky man wearing a stained white shirt and jean overalls. His smile was big and playful and he held less teeth in his mouth than I had fingers on my hands. Despite his hillbilly appearance he was an open minded and educated man.
What began as browsing the antique store quickly became a tour of artistic and historical importance, showcasing works from all walks of life and each with its own story. The experience fit the name of the store perfectly; One Upon A Tree.
Kevin too was an incredible artist. He would make birdhouses and other pieces out of found objects and abandoned traps, including one, 8' tall giant with bottles for eyes, a great mossy beard and thick tree trunks for legs. He mentioned that he had to hire a crane to stand the piece upright. We bought gifts and were given free and valuable trinkets, and all he wanted in return was a lovespoon from Wales to make a birdhouse to send back to Wales, to fulfill his dream of having his art all over the world.
Back at the campsite, Kelsea and I hiked the nature trail, admiring all the natural beauty of the Great smokey national park.
For supper we returned for pulled pork sandwiches at the local bar; Two Men And A Pig aka Charlie's. This evening, the bar was almost empty except for a few locals. There was Mike, the tall and bald barkeep with a big bushy beard and there was Opi, the soft spoken, shaky pool shark.
We drank and Mike packed a pipe for us to share as we discussed the haunted history and basement murders of our new, favorite establishment.
Some more locals trickled in and we spent time talking with Dakota in the Tiki Hut down the hill. There was an innumerable amount of spiders littering the interior of the bamboo shack, but to my surprise, Kelsea kept her cool.
I felt a need to leave early to get to Nashville early the next day, so reluctantly, we said our goodbyes to our new friends and made our way back to camp for the final night amidst the great smokey mountains.