June 11, 2016

#HorsemansTNVacay Pt 1

Tim and I just went on our first full week vacation since our Honeymoon. We picked Tennessee because Tim loves the mountains and I've been dying to go to music city a.k.a. Nashville!

I'm going to break it up into 2 parts since there are so many pictures. Here is Part 1: Gatlinburg. Enjoy!

We arrived to our cabin in Gatlinburg about midday. We got lucky and were able to snag this cabin that was only about 5 minutes from downtown at a great price on Homeaway.

Here's our cabin view:

The building in the center of the picture is right in the heart of downtown. You could see it all lit up at night.

After getting settled in, we headed downtown for some shopping and dinner! Had to take a pic in front of the mint fountain :) We went to Bubba Gumps for dinner (OMG... get the Shrimp Mac and cheese #nottiuapproved) and then tried out one of the moonshine tastings just for fun! Sugarlands Distilling was a great time and had a lot of yummy flavors!

The fountain is in the Village Shops part of downtown. It is my favorite little district for shopping. I got a pair of Sanuk sandals (from The Hayloft Comfort Footwear) that I wore every day on our trip. They've got something for everyone!

Day 2
We packed in A LOT of fun on this day.

After breakfast (donuts #alsonottiuapproved) we headed out to go horseback riding. Its an hour long ride through the mountains. It was a perfect, relaxing way to start the day. Tim was hoping to see a bear but I'm pretty glad we didn't. We went to Sugarland Stables (the name was a coincidence) and my horse was Blossom. She was so well trained I hardly had to do anything. We went to the lunch at Hungry Bear BBQ and then did the Alpine Coaster. We probably should've done it the other way around but there are no flips so it wasn't too bad. It was a cool experience but not really a thrill for this coaster-loving girl! I wrote review on these places on Trip Advisor if you want more info about them.

 I promise he's having fun, he just hates pictures!!
We needed a little break so we went back to the cabin and picked up Artie. We took him for a walk on the only pet-friendly trail in the Smokies.
We rested for a bit, cleaned up and then drove to Pigeon Forge for some shopping and dinner. We went to The Old Mill restaurant (highly recommend) which also had a great view and the cutest little general store.

Now it was time for the highly anticipated event of our vacation...the helicopter ride. This was a splurge for us but it was 100% worth it!!!  I called earlier that day because reviews said you should make an appointment if possible. I was able to get us the Sunset tour (which is no extra cost). Neither of us had ever been in a helicopter ride before but were told it was very smooth (similar to a car ride). Our tour guide was so kind and very knowledgeable. Its something I will NEVER forget!

Day 3. HIKING DAY! Although we didn't actually hike in Tennessee. The hike we had planned to go on (Alum Cave trail) was closed for maintenance so we opted to keep driving to Clingman's Dome in North Carolina. I am so glad we did. It was breathtaking. There are 360 degree views in the viewing tower.

 driving along the parkway
 this is the view at the BOTTOM of the trail!!
The dead Hemlock trees are because of an insect called hemlock woolly adelgid. I think the park ranger said it had already killed over 75% of this tree and will most likely become extinct.
the elevation is 6,643 feet so you definitely start feeling shortness of breath up there.

 Because this a short steep hike, we also hiked Andrew's Bald which is connected to the trail. Its kind of a backwards trail. You hike mostly downhill on the way and uphill on the way back.
After this we took a long break and then went back downtown for dinner at No Way Jose's and then enjoyed the hottub under the stars.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Nashville

Here's a video of the helicopter ride if you didn't get enough mountain views already! (ps its a phone video so it will be a little blurry if you make it full screen, also it was not loud for us because we were wearing headsets)

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