Friday, October 28, 2011

Gatlinburg 2011 Trip Report: Tues. Oct. 18

On Tuesday, we had tickets to the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina.  When I bought the tickets for that day, the weather was supposed to be warm and sunny.   Closer to the day to go, the weather forecast changed to rain.  We were blessed with a great warm, sunny day and no rain, except for a few sprinkles on the way home.  We got up a little later than had planned, but we were off and headed down the road at 9:00 a.m.  It was about a 2 hours drive to Asheville from Gatlinburg, and the scenery along I-40 was absolutely beautiful.  Once we arrived at the Biltmore, I was in awe of how beautiful it was and how big it is.  The Biltmore House is a 250+ room home.  Home is putting it mildly!  You can click on the link to read more about it.  We were able to tour the inside of the house, but weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside L, and then we toured the property, flower gardens, farm, winery and just the property in general.   We had lunch at the Stable Café and it was yummy.  I had a salad with romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese strips, fried okra, tomatoes, deviled eggs, rotisserie chicken, and brown sugar bacon, and then I had a cup of potato soup. 
On our way back home, we took a short cut across the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is another beautiful drive through the mountains.  We drove into Pigeon Forge for dinner that night at the Applewood Farmhouse Grill, which was delish too.  I had the sampler platter with chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, and chicken pot pie, fried apples, and mashed potatoes and gravy.  All meals were served with apple julep, apple fritters, and apple butter.   And of course, we ate too much and then stopped for dessert on the way back to the hotel L

Shawnie and I at the Biltmore House

The Biltmore House

Shawnie and I at the Biltmore House

The view off the back veranda.  Would it be amazing to have this view each morning!

The back veranda with the amazing view of the countryside.  This porch was huge and had about 5 or 6 sets of these chairs spaced down the porch.

My lunch at the Stable Cafe

Inside the green house

When I took this picture, I was just taking a close up of the grasshopper on the plant.  Upon further inspection of the picture, I realize the grasshopper is pooping on the plant.  LOL!!

The green house on the Biltmore property

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gatlinburg 2011 Trip Report: Mon. Oct. 17

On Monday, Shawn wanted to golf, so I dropped him off at 8:00 at the Gatlinburg Country Club and I kept the car for the day. I planned on shopping all morning, but spent more time just driving around the area and exploring. I found a few back roads to get between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to avoid the traffic so that was nice to find and to know for future trips there.

I ate breakfast at a Flapjacks in Gatlinburg.  I had french toast, bacon and eggs.  After breakfast, I decided to drive up Ski Mountain Road and go to OberGatlinburg since we weren’t going to ride the tram up there. I had heard that was a very steep road to drive. Steep would be an understatement. That road was ridiculous and at one point, I missed a turn and ended up on a very narrow one lane road. I didn’t think I was every going to find a place to turn around. I made it to the top near Ober only to find a sign that said the rest of the road was closed until Ober opened up at 10:00 that morning. So back down the road I went, and immediately to a gas station. I didn’t want to be stuck out on those roads and run out of gas.

I headed back to Pigeon Forge and went shopping at the Carter’s store and got Gavin some new jammies for Christmas. Then I headed into Seiverville to find this statue of Dolly Parton that sits on the courthouse lawn. I was flipping through the GPS for attractions and saw that there was a covered bridge nearby so I went see that too. I had read about it online earlier, but didn’t pay that much attention to it. Shawn called after this and I went back to pick him up.

We stopped at McDonalds and got some lunch to go and headed into the mountains to go to Clingman’s Dome. The drive up to Clingman’s Dome was beautiful; the weather was beautiful and the scenery was beautiful. We stopped at a few pull-off’s along the way to take pictures. The closer we got to the top, the more excited I got to go up there. The day was sunny and clear and I knew that there would be a great view from the top, unlike the last time we went up there; Shawn didn’t believe me, he figured it would be foggy like before. I also was in layers that day and had my coat, scarf, and gloves in the car. Last time, it was FREEZING so I wanted to be prepared. I didn’t need my coat that day and probably could of shed a layer that I had on. It was WARM walking up that hill! Hee!! From the parking lot, it is a half-mile, steep, uphill walk to the top of Clingman’s Dome, which has an elevation height of 6,643 feet. Once you reach the top, there is a concrete observation tower with 360 degrees panoramic views. On the day we were there, the view was very clear and we could see 20+ miles away. I wanted to stay up there forever, but of course we couldn’t. The walk down was a lot easier than the walk up, however it was hard on my knees and piggies. I was so glad that I was able to make the walk up, granted we had to stop every 20 feet for me to breathe.

After we left Clingman’s Dome, we stopped at the pull-off for the Newfound Gap for a few minutes and then headed into Gatlinburg for the night. I had been wanting to ride the Sky Lift to the top of the mountain, so I did that. Shawn is afraid of riding it, so I had to go by myself. It’s such a relaxing ride up that mountain, and at the top you get your picture taken. Each time I’ve gone up, I’ve bought my picture. There isn’t really anything at the top other than a gift shop and scenery. After I came down, we went and had dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp House. The food was alright, but highly overpriced. I’m sure we paid more for the atmosphere than the food. After dinner, we just strolled around and shopped in some of the little stores along the walk. No sweet treats for us that night!

Every time you turn on a TV to the local channel in Gatlinburg, there is a show about Alewine Pottery.  They've been playing it the last 5 times we've been there.  The morning I was out driving around, I ended up in the Arts & Crafts community and drove by Alewine Pottery.  Naturally I had to pull over and snap a picture. 

The covered bridge I found in Seiverville.  It's called the Harrisburg Covered Bridge.

Statue of Dolly Parton on the Seiverville Court House lawn.

The beginning of the hike up to Clingman's Dome.

Probably our first picture on the hike up.  I still have a smile on my face so it must of been early in the hike.  Hee!

If you can't tell in this picture, the hike is all uphill.  And that's a steep hill!

Ahhh...we are almost to the top.  Seeing this completely put a smile on my face!

Shawnie taking a picture of me taking a picture of him :)

These people were going to hike the Appalachian Trail.  They were starting at the trail head at Clingman's Dome and were going to hike for 3 days and end up at Cades Cove.  More power to them!

I should of at least walked on this trail for a little bit so that I could officially say I walked the Appalachian trail!  The AT runs from Maine all the way down to Georgia, close to 2,000 miles!

Shawnie and I in front of Clingman's Dome.

Shawnie and I at the top of Clingman's Dome

Views from the top of Clingman's Dome

Views from the top of Clingman's Dome
Me taking a picture of Shawnie who was taking a picture of me :)

Shawnie and I at the Newfound Gap pull-off.  It is also the North Carolina/Tennessee state line.

Shawnie at the Clingman's Dome sign

Me at the top of Clingman's Dome!  I'm so glad I made the hike this time!

Me at the Clingman's Dome sign

Me at another pull off on our way back into Gatlinburg

Shawnie at another pulloff on our way back into Gatlinburg

A cute little walking bridge at a pull off on our way back into Gatlinburg.

I'm going up the side of the mountain in the chair lift.  I love doing this and wish I could get Shawnie to go up with me sometime.

The view from the top of the mountain after riding the chair lift up.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gatlinburg 2011 Trip Report: Sun. Oct 16

Sunday morning, we got up early, got ready, had breakfast at the hotel, and then headed into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  We stopped at the Sugarland’s Visitor Center to go to the bathroom and then hike the Nature Trail located behind the park.  I had read about the Fighting Creek Nature Trail online and decided to give it a try.  Since Shawn and I are both trying to lose weight (although all the sweet treats we had this week didn’t help), I thought being as active as we could on this vacation would be great.  I had Googled a few different trails/hikes for us to do and we enjoyed each one.  The trail was relatively easy and was only a 1.25 miles round trip.  About ½ way through the trail, there was a log cabin.  The whole time we were on the trail, I was on the lookout for bear, but didn’t see any.  I love, love, love looking for bear when we are in the Smokies.  We didn’t see any bear, but did come across about 6 wild turkeys when we first started the trail, and then ran across 2 more as we were finishing up the trail.  We also saw quite a few squirrel and chipmunks.  

After we left the visitor center, we headed out to drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and hike to Grotto Falls.  RFMT is a 6-mile long, one-way, loop road through the Smokies that offers rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old-growth forest, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings.  The hike to Grotto Falls was about 3 miles round trip and there was a 25 foot waterfall that you can walk behind.  This trail was a bit more difficult than the one earlier in the day, and it was definitely a workout.  I felt like we were never going to make it to the top, but we did.  The waterfall was beautiful and the hike down the hill was even more beautiful.  Hee!!  When we first started the trail, we saw some people coming out of the trail using some wood walking sticks.  I mentioned to Shawn that we need to get us some sticks and they offered us theirs.  I was so thankful that they did.  They helped get up and down the trail a lot! 

We didn’t eat any lunch that day, but did munch on some snacks when we got back to the car.  After we finished the RFMT drive, we headed back to the hotel to change and drove into Knoxville for dinner.   When we were in Florida last fall we ate at a Brazilian restaurant called Texas de Brazil and it was delish!  As we were driving through Knoxville on the way to Gatlinburg, I saw a billboard for a Brazilian restaurant called Brazeiros so we called to find out about it and knew we wanted to eat there.  Brazeiros was just as yummy and I would highly recommend it to anyone!  It was late when we were finished with dinner, and since we didn’t know the area, we didn’t do anything else and headed back to the hotel.  We did stop at another ice cream place called Mad Dogs Creamery.  It was absolutely delish as well.  We went back again later in the week.

These pictures were taken along the nature trail at the visitors center.

These pictures were taken at a pull-off along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.  I had the tri-pod in the car for the one of us together, but it was a pain to set up each time so there isn't many using it.

The rest of the pictures were taken along the hike to Grotto Falls.

I wished I would of had someone take a picture of Shawn and I together at the waterfall, but I didn't :(