travel

Up to the Smokies

“The Earth has music for those who listen.”

-William Shakespeare

Growing up, we’d road trip to California quite a bit. My favorite part of the trip was driving through the Smoky Mountains. There was just something about them that pulled at my heart and soul. Strangely enough, even living just a couple of hours away, I hadn’t visited them much as an adult.

Two Saturdays ago I left to spend five days at the Holiday Inn Vacation Club’s Great Smoky Mountain Resort. I was finally getting my chance to explore this mysterious and gorgeous national park.

I can’t begin to tell you how great it was to wake up to this view every single morning. If I could have, I would have stayed forever. The resort was a gorgeous place and conveniently located. We walked down into town to get food or go to an attraction. It was my first time in Gatlinburg and I was really blown away by how much there was to do. And how packed it was. Y’all if you’re going to travel, wear a damn mask. That’s all.

Day 1:

It was a three and a half hour trip to reach my mom and grandmother who had stayed in Kodak on Friday night before we were to check in at the resort. We immediately jumped into the activities as there was a moonshine distillery down the road. Let me give you some advice, eat before you sample the ‘shine. Y’all I was done after the third sample. Didn’t stop though, nah. I had three more (you get six free) and then a cocktail. It was worth it and the bartenders were extremely friendly. It felt like we were sitting around with old friends just carrying on.

That night after checking in, we settled on eating at the condo. Word of advice, do your food shopping BEFORE you get to Gatlinburg. All they have is Food City and it can be rather pricey.

Day 2:

With a five am surprise of my sister’s arrival, our day pretty much began. We headed across the street for breakfast at the Log Cabin Pancake House. Now, I was a tad nervous as I wasn’t sure there was going to be much for me to eat. To my surprise however, they offered “healthier options” like gluten free buckwheat pancakes. I was thrilled and slathered those suckers in hot maple syrup and butter. It was delicious.

Afterwards, my sister and I took off to see Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap. It was an absolutely stunning drive up there. I’ll let the photos talk for me.

By the time we got back to the condo, we were exhausted.

Dinner that night was from Bones BBQ Joint. It was freaking amazing food. We ordered the family pitmaster combo which included ribs, a smoked meat, sides, rolls (which I stared at longingly) and then got sweet tea as well. I wish I had some photos for y’all but it was eaten way before I even had the thought of a photo.

Day 3:

So if you’ve ever lived around or been to the Smokies, you’ll know that there are tons of mysterious stories and lore. My sister and I had decided to check out one of the park’s supposedly haunted spots: the ghost town of Elkmont. It’s not super known, in fact the National Parks Service just began its restoration back in 2017. There’s a campground adjacent to it, so if you’re brave you can head to the very abandoned resort at night. However, it’s super creepy during the day. We grew up with a love of the supernatural and paranormal so this was a must see on our list.

Let me tell you, this abandoned town did not disappoint. The first cabin in this area was built in the 1800s and was originally a logging community. The land became part of the Appalachian Club luxury resort grounds in 1910. In 1912, another club opened up nearby called the Wonderland Club, this hotel eventually burned down and wasn’t something we were able to see. By 1992 the town of Elkmont because practically a ghost town.

We ended up going back again later that evening, because we’re obsessed really. However, between those trips was a beautiful drive out to Cade’s Cove. It’s about an hour from Gatlinburg and roughly thirty minutes from Elkmont depending on traffic of course.

That evening we walked down to the Gatlinburg Skylift Park. If you’re afraid of heights, I wouldn’t recommend it. To get up you have to take basically a ski lift to the top of the mountain.

The view from the top was incredible though. It’s worth it, especially at sunset.

The fun didn’t stop there though. The whole point of this place is the Skybridge. It’s the longest suspension pedestrian bridge in North America and takes about five minutes to get across. We thought we were going to die. Not gonna lie.

After nearly pushing ourselves into a panic attack, we hung out at the Skylounge bar. Yes, there’s a bar up there and we made use of it. The night views of Gatlinburg are stunning from the bar’s outdoor seating.

There’s definitely more to discuss, but keep an eye out for part two. If you’re going to travel, please follow all city, county, or state requirements about COVID-19. If you ignore them or decide it’s “against your rights” to wear a mask, you’re a trashy human being. No, I won’t apologize for this stance. Wear the effin’ mask. As usual for 2020, stay safe and stay healthy.

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