The Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains

< Visit the previous post in this series: Road Trip!

Once we had this road trip planned out, we heard that a family gathering was in the works, so our November 2016 Road Trip took a little detour to Chattanooga, TN. We were able to tweak out most of one day for a visit with my cousins who are dispersed throughout the state or nearby. Chattanooga is a beautiful city and definitely warrants another visit on a future road trip thru Tennessee.

If you follow my blog, you know we are Bluegreen Vacation Club owners. When we come to the Great Smoky Mountains, we have two choices for accommodations if we want to use our timeshare. If you’re bringing along the kids, Laurel Crest in Pigeon Forge may offer you more of the fun attractions that you’d be looking for to keep the family busy – shows, waterparks, mini golf, Dollywood and so much more.

However, our favorite of the two is MountainLoft in Gatlinburg, since WE come to this area to enjoy more of nature’s attractions than the man-made ones. The resorts aren’t that far from each other and Gatlinburg also has its fair share of attractions, restaurants and shopping, but MountainLoft is very close to the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and since traffic is usually pretty heavy, we like to be able to make a quick getaway when the mountains call our names.

We arrived in Gatlinburg around dinner time, so after checking in we hit up our favorite Mexican restaurant. No Way Jose’s is a fun and colorful place to enjoy a pitcher of margaritas with our dinner and make a plan for what we’d like to do while we’re here.

My husband had just come off a very stressful patch at work and this vacation was going to be just that – a vacation! He put his foot down with running here and there – starting early and ending late. The next morning we lolly-gagged around with our coffee on the patio gawking at the banks of color on the mountains across the way. We noticed that the colors were not as vibrant as usual during this time of year, probably because of the lack of rain and high temps this summer, but even at its worst – its pretty awesome.

We finally got going and started the day with an early lunch at the Wild Plum Tea Room. Even with Google Maps we got turned around and ended in someone’s driveway, but it was well worth the trouble. Several friends vouched for its excellence and one directed a statement to the men in particular not to be put off by the prissy name! It is great and offers generous portions. Jim had a bison burger and you can’t get much more manly than that! I had the chicken salad, which was equally as filling and just delicious with the addition of a little nutmeg! Deck seating was fabulous on this beautiful day and a peach cobbler al a mode with two spoons added to our delight. Overall it made a fabulous start to the day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping along Glades Road and checking out the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community.

“The largest group of independent artisans in North America. This historic 8-mile loop has been designated a Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. Established in 1937, these artisans whittle, paint, sew, cast, weave and carve to create original collectibles such as candles, baskets, quilts, brooms, pottery, jewelry, dolls, ceramics, scrimshaw, silver smithing, leather, stained glass, wearable fashions, fine photography, framable art, oils, watercolors, and also lodging, restaurants, cafés, tea room, soda fountain and candy shops. Make plans to visit the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.” – READ MORE at the link above

Our last shopping stop was a great little gallery that we frequent on our visits called the Artist’s Attic. We seem to carry on long and wonderful conversations with the owner – Linda Morrow – most times we’re there. We have purchased fabulous prints from her on several occasions, and her love of the Smokies runs deep into her soul. Her and her husband were among way too many folks who lost their homes in the wild fires that ripped through in 2016, shortly after we returned home from our trip. If you make it to Gatlinburg, stop and check out her selection of beautiful prints. She is located at Glades and Powdermill Roads.

It was time to call it an afternoon, so we stopped at the local Food City to grab some staples and a six-pack and to get back out on that deck. With our feet up on the railing and staring at God’s beauty, I could see relaxation slowly overtaking the stress on my husband’s face. Welcome to the Smokies!

Next stop: Cades Cove

Happy trails,

Barbara Olson

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