My daughter Kathy Roden and her three daughters (Katelyn, Jennafer, Lauren) are visiting from the San Antonio Texas area and son Eric, wife Ann and kids (Matthew, Sophia) were down from Harrogate,Tn and one of the things we all like to do is go to Cades Cove for a picnic and one of the things I like to do is have all of the kids get together for a meal. It didn’t work out to do it on Fathers Day so we all congregated at the cove on Tuesday for a family cook out. One of the nice things about a non holiday mid week visit is it’s not as crowded, but it was more so than I would have expected. The Little River in Townsend was wall-to-wall tubers floating along.
Eric and Ann went up to the cove (around these parts you just have to say the cove for others to know where you’re going) in late morning to drive around the loop road and to secure a good spot - we live a little over an hour away. With 13 of us eating, we decided we needed two tables and they managed to secure my two favorites for this. You know you’ve done this a lot when you have a favorite spot and mine hasn’t changed in 40 years. Here’s our setup with cook/adult table in the foreground and kids table behind.
The traditional cove meal for Bev’s family (they’ve been picnicing in the cove all her life) was hamburgers cooked over an open fire and potatoes fried in a cast iron Dutch oven until they were a little crispy – the second helping is always a little crispier and the very last ones are fought over. We’ve been married 25 years and have been on many cove picnics and this is still the meal, with maybe an occasional hotdog – I’m not sure I could cook anything else there. Anytime an out of town family member visits, a cove picnic is generally on the agenda.
I normally like to cook everything over the open fire on their grill, but they keep putting in smaller ones and there’s hardly room, so I took along the Weber Grill to cook the meat on.
There were two main things to accomplish with this trip – have a nice picnic in a great spot and let the kids play in the creek. We picked the perfect day to do this weather wise, as it was nearly 100* in the valley and in the mid 80’s beside the creek. The Roden girls and Sophia hard at it.
Alex and Matthew have a little dam project underway- it's hard to imagine how many times these rocks have been moved since the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was established - Bev said they spent hours at it every time they went as kids.
The Roden girls.
Ann and Matthew.
3 year old Sophia proud of scaling a big rock in the middle of the creek.
Eric is showing off his camp counselor skills by demonstrating how to turn various rocks into a colored mud for use as paint. They ended up with reds, browns, yellows, and blue greys. I didn't know he had this hidden knowledge and it kept the kids occupied for a while.
If it's not quite cool enough along the creek bank, you merely find a little pool with a flat bottom, 10" of water and a rock for a foot rest and move your chair down there. Have the kids fetch you a cold drink and it doesn't get much better on a hot day.
For those with a little more energy and tired of creek playing there was a spirited game of netless badmitten by Kathy, Alex and Katelyn.
Now don't get me wrong, I love a good burger, but I really love grilled hot dogs dressed with mustard, onion, and some of Bev's homemade sauce. I discovered and added a little shredded cheese after I took this shot. This was the perfect meal for this idealic spot.
When I first started going to the cove, you could sit around your camp fire until well after dark and then it became dusk. Now they close at 8pm (11/2 hours before dusk) and since we didn't eat until seven, we had to hustle after eating to get moved out on time. It was still a very enjoyable afternoon, but after two very busy days of hard cooking, I belive it will be leftovers tonight. I may even have time to get caught up on my blog reading.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.