This past summer, Andy and I decided to go to Gatlinburg, TN for our vacation. Even though the drive was about 8 hours, it felt like a short one (much shorter than even driving up to Chicago) because of the beautiful landscape driving the length of TN.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but it turns out Gatlinburg is a lot like Branson, MO – a built up commercial tourist trap. As much as I turn my nose up at all the souvenir shops, Ripley’s museums, go-karts & arcades, numerous fudge stands, etc…I have to admit that our little (questionably clean) motel was just one block away from a great little NY-style pizza joint, numerous pancake restaurants (it’s a big thing down there apparently!), and live bluegrass music out in the open-air courtyard with rows of rocking chairs.
But by far my favorite thing, and the whole reason we wanted to go, was hiking those incredibly beautiful mountains. Just imagine yourself hopping into the page of a fairy tale in the woods – everything covered in fuzzy green moss, the sun peeking through the tree covering above, huge knotted roots from 100+ yr old trees, and bubbling brooks galore. I love being able to actually ‘hike’ up the streams because there are so many rocks sticking up in the water. The hiking was more challenging than we expected because you never have your foot on flat ground – always roots and rocks in the paths, but it makes it that much more enjoyable to explore. But you do feel EVERY muscle in your legs and feet after a day’s hike!