Friday, October 30, 2015

Always time for a break from life--in the Smoky Mountains

Exploring Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains
My absolute favorite time of the year. Autumn. I am simply a happier person in the fall. My daughter has two weeks of fall break.  It is usually a bear to keep her busy for two weeks, but this year we kept insanely busy.  Week one, my daughter and I went to see my parents. No big plans. No frills. Just us and my parents and I loved every second.  Visiting my parents is a vacation for me.  I am in love with their house and the land that surrounds it.  I get to see my hometown and visit with my sister, niece, and nephew.  Nothing is any sweeter.

Week two my husband, my daughter and I went to the Smoky Mountains. My husband and I went there for our honeymoon 13.5 years ago and I have been wanting to go back ever since. We rented a cabin between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It was totally secluded and out of the way on some crazy back roads.  The tree colors were barely changing when we arrived, but by the end of the week they were really popping.  I am glad we got to experience the Smokies during the fall, but I have to say that I doubt I will ever go back this time of year.  The crowds were insane and the traffic to get into the park and Gatlinburg were at slow crawls most of the day.  After day one we learned our lesson and got up pretty early to beat the traffic and crowds.  Totally worth not sleeping in.

We did the typical Cades Cove and Clingman's Dome, but we also did a hike to Laural Falls which was beautiful.  I did some investigating and found a little entrance to the park called 'Greenbrier' about 7 miles east outside of Gatlinburg that is a mostly gravel road about 6 miles long leading to two trail heads.  It runs along a little river and the photo opportunities are spectacular.  We were able to walk out onto the river via many rocks and boulders.  It was a wonderful way to spend part of my husband's birthday. If I had a heaven on earth it would be Greenbrier.

My highlights including sitting on a rock next to a river and having a chipmunk try to climb up my back. I have never jumped so high in my life.  Being the photographer that I am, I ventured out onto some shady rocks in the middle of a river and ended up with one leg completely drenched and laughing at myself so hard that my other foot fell in. I loved every minute.

We had a raccoon visit the deck of our cabin every night. He would just stare up at us as we looked at him through the window.  On our drive through Cades Cove we were lucky enough to see a momma bear and two cubs right next to the road as they munched on food. I got a lousy picture because a ranger stood nearby telling us not to stop and keep moving. Still...it was a great experience for our daughter. 

I loved every minute of our vacation. Actually, having reservations and going someplace is the only way I can get my husband to take a vacation. He even admitted that if we had not had this planned he would have cancelled his vacation. He is a total workaholic, but after 17 years together I am a little too used to it.  Even though his bosses insisted he take a vacation, I know I have to plan something or else he would never take vacations. Sigh.
Cades Coves- Smoky Mountains

My daughter and I in Cades Cove


Cades Cove--we took an off the beaten path road because believe me, traffic was backed up here. 








Laurel Falls just outside of Gatlinburg

On our way back to Gatlinburg after day one 

My daughter and husband at the main entrance to the park







Bad phone picture--but our daughter ice skated for the first time at Ober Gatlinburg

Utterly beautiful week

We played miniature golf on a hillside course called 'Hillbilly Golf'

Oktoberfest at Ober Gatlinburg meant my husband and I enjoying our favorite beer- 'Spatan' from Germany

Finishing up our Hillbilly Golf adventure

Beautiful jellyfish at Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg



Our daughter in 'The Village' in Gatlinburg after breakfast at the 'Pancake Pantry'

Gatlinburg in the early morning was so peaceful

An off the beaten path gem in the Smokies- Greenbrier

Glad I pushed my husband and daughter to try out this off the beaten path road in the Smokies- Greenbrier
On our hike up to Clingman's Dome- sunny and 73 degrees that day. Simply stunning day.

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