Saturday, March 1, 2014

Birthday Trip to Gatlinburg, TN


So this post is super overdue, but I think you'll enjoy it anyway.  Back in December, Kevin and I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to celebrate my birthday and also to just kind of get away.  In our original discussions about where to go on our honeymoon, I had wanted beach, he had wanted mountains.  I kind of won that, but found somewhere that had both - Costa Rica!  It was wonderful and I plan on doing a post about it in the future as well.

Since we did the beach for our honeymoon (and kind of mountains - well, rainforest in some mountains), we decided to take a mountain trip next.  Someone had recommended Gatlinburg, Tennessee - and specifically, the Bent Creek Golf Village.


We absolutely loved Bent Creek Golf Village!  It was very nice, very peaceful and very beautiful!  We had a mini kitchen, a balcony, a fireplace...it was great!

Let me just say this - Gatlinburg is one of my favorite places that I've ever been!  And that's huge...I've been to some beautiful countries.  Not only was it beautiful, it had a feeling about it that I have never felt anywhere else.  It was so warm and inviting.  And most importantly, the story of Jesus was told numerous times, not just because it was Christmas.  You could see the love of Christ in the hearts of those who live there.

Onto the trip (and photos! Though I do wish I had taken more)...

We flew into Knoxville on a Friday morning, rented a car and drove the 1.5 hrs to Gatlinburg.  After checking into our room, we grabbed lunch at the Smoky Mountain Brewery.




Oh my gosh, it was so good!  We tried their beer flight which we really enjoyed...very unique beers.  And my burger was amazing!

Then we walked up and down the main street in town where they have all of the shops.  It's very cute!  We don't usually buy much when shopping.  It was just fun to experience the town.  Everything was Christmas-ed out!  I loved it!  Carolers sang on the streets, light were glowing everywhere, everyone was drinking hot chocolate and shopping for Christmas presents.  I highly recommend going at Christmas time!

We saw dancing elves...


I might have acted like I was driving this sleigh...


And the coolest part was the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery!  Apparently it's legal to make and sell moonshine in TN now.  You can do a tasting for free which we did.  The server was very entertaining and animated in a country-folk kind of way...very "Tennesse".  I wish I had taken a photo!  I can't say I love moonshine because I'm just not a big liquor person, but the flavors were interesting....apple pie, strawberry, blueberry, lemon drop, etc.  I also hear they have pineapple now.  Here we are out front...


And checking out the moonshine making process...


We did buy the apple pie one for our brother-in-law...


Whiskey tasting at Davy Crockett's Tennessee Whiskey...



We had dinner at Calhoun's and then went to bed early.  We were pooped!

The next day, we went to the Log Cabin Pancake House for breakfast...AMAZING!!!  If you ever go, get the French Toast Royale!!!  Delicious!!!!

Next, we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park right outside of Gatlinburg.  It was pretty though we'd love to go back when there were actually leaves on the trees.  We drove to Cade's Cove inside the park which was neat and educational.  It's a beautiful valley between gorgeous mountains where some of the first European settlers came in the early 1800's.  There are still a few of the houses they lived in, churches they built, and other buildings.  There is also a lot of wildlife though I think a lot of them were hiding while we were there.  We saw deer and turkeys which I see a lot in the Texas hill country.  They say black bears and coyotes makes appearances there as well.









Our only complaint was the 11-mile ONE LANE road you had to drive on to see the cove.  The speed limit is 15, but the occasional Grumpy-pants McGee would go 3mph and not let you pass.  It was quite annoying....especially because there were many opportunities for them to pull over and let you pass.

I'd recommend seeing this part of TN in the spring or fall.

Oh!  Here's a cool waterfall...



We walked around the town and chilled the rest of that day.

The next day, we explored Pigeon Forge, TN and did a little shopping there.  We drove by Dollywood though we couldn't see anything really at all.  I really wanted to run into Dolly Parton...haha...what are the chances?!?! 

We shopped a bit and had some awesome pommes frites at Poynor's Pommes Frites.  It brought me back to my trip to the Netherlands and Belgium where pommes frites (what we know as french fries) started.  These little shops/stands are everywhere there so it was quite a treat to find this gem in Pigeon Forge, TN...of all places!

Then we went to the Dixie Stampede...created by who else, but Dolly Parton.  I LOVED it!  They were doing their Christmas program so it was a little different than what you'd see the rest of the year.  It's very similar to Medieval Times in Dallas, but "country" instead of "medieval-y". (I like to make up words)  This was the green team against the red team...of course.




My favorite part was the live story of baby Jesus.  The whole show revolved around the coming of Jesus Christ as a baby and that being the true meaning of Christmas.  How awesome!

So after the show, we drove back to Gatlinburg and had to kill some time before our scheduled trolley tour of the town.  The Dallas Cowboys game was on so we found a sports bar in a hotel which turned out to be quite an entertaining part of the trip.  A traveler was hitting on the sweet (older) bartender and she was handling him really well.  At first he thought we were jerks because I asked him if he was driving and then he realized how cool we really are and he bought us a drink.  Ha!  I wish that dude was in this photo with us...


I have no photos from the trolley tour, but it was awesome!  We learned a lot about Gatlinburg history and guess what?!?!  The tour guide shared the gospel!  He spoke about Jesus' story, his sacrifice on the Cross and how He had changed this guy's life...oh, and this guy was Dolly Parton's nephew!!!  Crazy!

And we flew back to DFW the next day...my birthday!  Happy 31st to me!  What a great birthday gift from my amazing husband!

Birthday key lime pie!!!

Walking around Knoxville


Needless to say, this was a phenomenal trip!  I highly recommend taking a trip there!  We hope to one day bring our future children back there, especially at Christmas.

I hope you felt like you were in Gatlinburg with us after reading that!  Thanks for stopping by!

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