The Smoky Mountains are a rare jewel. … Why not have a place where you can still see the stars? There is a value to keeping things primitive. – James Dawson
Today’s joy is only this: in October, Steve and I are packing up the pups and taking a road trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where we plan to spend an entire week enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains in the Autumn and each other’s company.
To say I’m excited is an understatement!
I haven’t been to Gatlinburg since I was really young, young enough to barely remember it. Steve has never been. A few years ago, we went to Boone, NC together for a weekend and stayed in a cheesy commercial chain hotel with a heart shaped bathtub in the middle of the room (as in I could jump into the bed from the tub – there was nothing settling it). And while the falls colors were amazing on our drive through Blue Ridge Parkway, it wasn’t exactly the relaxing and romantical weekend that I had anticipated.
Gatlinburg is going to be a whole different story. For starters, we are going for an entire week, something we have never done together in our entire eleven years that we have been dating. Of course, we have been on vacation but it’s always been traveling to visit his family or mine (and subsequently staying with them) or staying at home while visitors come to our house. We have never been on vacation alone away from our house where “nobody knows our name”, as I like to put it (thus, no obligations to anyone but ourself).
Secondly, we are going to the Great Smoky Mountains – in October – that is the PEAK of Autumn color! When we went to Boone, I had not yet upgraded to a DSLR – now, I have my trusty Rebel XTi that I want to put through it’s paces. And I just can’t wait to get up the morning to a low fog and a chill in the air with the reds and oranges and yellows ablaze.
Thirdly, we are staying in a private cabin at the top of a mountain. When we went to Hawaii in 2008, my parents used the HomeAway site to book us a condo within walking distance to Waikiki and we had absolutely no problems with it so I decided to use HomeAway again. I found an adorable little one bedroom cabin that is fully loaded with a stocked kitchen (so we can cook there and not spend tons of money on food), all of the entertainment needs (game room, DVD library, plasma TV’s, etc. – although I really would like to avoid overutilizing those), a HOT TUB!!!! and is pet friendly so we don’t have to pay to board the pups. It’s even got a little gated front porch so the dogs can hang out with us having to chase them down. And to top it all off, the owner was super friendly and accommodating — we only had to pay one pet fee (instead of one for each dog), she had no other fees associated (a lot of owners on the site have cleaning fees, registration fees, etc.) and when I told her we wanted to stay Sunday through Friday she offered Saturday night to us for free. It all essentially boiled to down to about $135 a night total (taxes included), which is a steal! (We had both kind of balked at the weekly price first because we’ve never really paid to stay somewhere that long so it was quite a big figure for us – we normally travel briefly over weekends or stay with relatives. This will be the first time where we’ve actually rented a place for an entire week. How do people travel like regular people and afford it?? LOL)
I mean, how cute is this??
Our goal is to basically relax and have a real vacation and maybe reconnect with each other a bit. I know Gatlinburg and neighboring Pigeon Forge can be a bit touristy (as someone on my Facebook feed put it, it’s the “Myrtle Beach of the Mountains”) and that’s fine with us – we will probably explore it one or two days, checks out some of the local shoppes and maybe visit Dollywood. We have a few restaurant recommendations already and we’ll probably do a few of the real touristy attractions. But for the most part, I think our time will be spent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, driving around to the scenic views, hiking a few trails and just generally taking in that mountain scenery. Steve is especially excited about being able to go “mountain driving”. I’m excited to sit on the porch, read some books and take baths in that jetted tub – or just hang out in the hot tub!
Needless to say, I am excited! Actually, it’s more like I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT!! October cannot get here fast enough – I have found myself dreaming about this trip and I am so very glad we decided to do this. Even writing about it has put me in a good mood!
So if you’ve been to Gatlinburg or the neighboring area, we would love your suggestions! Especially if you live near there or have some insider information on avoiding the tourist traps and seeing the local gems. Like I said, we’ll probably spend a day or two being tourists but I always like to go off the beaten path when we travel and check out the local places that people who live there love because I’ve always believed those are by far better than anything marketed to tourists will be. Or if there’s a particular touristy thing you enjoyed, tell me that too. I’m open to anything! We’ve got SEVEN WHOLE DAYS to burn!
See you in the Smokies!!
[image from here]