Larry & Cheryl's 2010 Travels travel blog

Leaving Pigeon Forge towards Knoxville on I-40

Passing through Knoxville

Beautiful historic Knoxville High School

Turning southbound on our Tennessee highway

Downtown Athens

Rolling hills of Tennseess, foothills west of the Smokies

The Lost Sea Adventure

Entrance tunnel to the cave


Mostly pinkish rock at times with other color

The rock is called "Bubba" and he guards the cave

Stalactites and one LARGE stalagmite

Rare Cave "Flowers"

Candle carbon marking the year 1863

More Confederate graffitti

Small display of Cold War stash of food that was stored in...

Interesting erosion from the underground river

Moss grows here by the lights, brought in our our shoes

This is called "Devils Hole" and they don't know how deep it...

More interesting erosion from the ancient river

More stalactites

They called this formation "The Toothbrush"

. . . and it was near this "Jawbone with teeth"

A little underground wterfall with fern growing from the light

There was moonshine production at times in this cave as shown by...

The Lost Sea Lake

It was so very quiet and peaceful here

We took boats out on the lake

There are colorless, blind trout in the lake

The trout were brought in as an experiment

Cave "Drapery"

They called this crystal formation in the rock "Statue of Liberty"

Colorful "Little Grand Canyon"

Closer look at the color on the rock

This stalagmite is called "Bear Claw"

This drip caused the Bear Claw

Mining of Saltpeter

The winery's little shady creek

Striker's Winery

Grandpa's fruit press

Sweetwater Valley Farm

The owners home high on a hill above the farm & store

Cheese store and tour of cheese making

The Udder Story

The owner's view from the hilltop

The cheese factory

Not processing today

Your choice of cheeses to purchase

And dozens of choices to taste

The farm

The feed bins where they mix the feed for the cows.

Butterflies feasting on the flowers

. . . but what is this thing? Big body, seemed like...

What is this? Anyone know?

Yesterday was a short drive out and around the mountain up to I-40 and south on I-75 to a small town, Niota, near Athens TN. We were told by other campers that we must visit the “Lost Sea” attraction over here.

It was cloudy and still HOT. This is the hottest and most humid summer we’ve ever experienced. In the evening we went to visit the Athens Elks lodge. Athens is an old city with lovely old brick buildings of the early 1800’s.

Today we toured “Lost Sea”, touted as "America’s Largest Underground Lake”. We walked into the cave through a yellow steel tunnel, as the color helps our eyes adjust back to daylight on our return. The temperature in the cave remains 58º year round. It was cool and humid.

We walked comfortably through several large & high cave rooms viewing the cave drapery formations and a few rare crystal formations. We were told of the mining of saltpeter (potassium nitrate) during the Civil War for gun powder production, and there was carbon graffiti on the walls from Confederate soldiers writing their names & the year 1863.

The cave was also used as a giant fall-out shelter to store food for thousands during the Cold War. The lake was awesome, so quiet & peaceful as we boarded our boats to go out on it. We saw very large colorless blind trout, who evolved that way after being placed in the lake as an experiment. They also cannot procreate, so more has been brought in over the years, and we understand because of the mutation they are not very tasty.

Afterwards we visited Striker Winery (tasting & buying) and then lunched at Shoney’s, enjoying the best food ever. We will certainly visit another Shoney’s in the future. Then we visited Sweetwater Valley Farm where they make many varieties and flavors of Colby & Cheddar for tasting and buying, which we did.

We ended our day with a fun evening at the Athens Elks Lodge for Hamburger Night and Karaoke. Yes, we sang, and someone even came up to Larry asking if he would sing Kenny Rogers’ “Lady”. This was the first time he ever got a request for a song.

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