Friday, January 31, 2014

Next Up!

Our next mini-vacation has been booked. We're going to Gatlinburg for a few days next month. It's one of the few tourist towns that I can tolerate, mainly because it's one of the gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If the town begins to get on my nerves I can escape quickly to the Park and lose myself in the forests.

The last time we visited we took our travel trailer and stayed at the Elkmont Campground in the Park. This time we've booked a nice room in town and I'll be taking day-hikes to see some places that are still on my list. I never get tired of the Smokies, and I have very nice memories of visiting Gatlinburg when I was a kid, and in the days of my early 20s. I think that's why I have a soft spot for the town, even though it's very much like tourist destinations that I generally avoid.

Downtown Gatlinburg. It was pre-Christmas...early November. The Christmas decorations were up. We had a great time cruising the main drag.
Autumn was still creating vast colors on the mountains.
Then...on a ride up to Newfound Gap, Mr. Winter smashes in! The Gap ended up getting about five inches of snow in just a few hours. They had to close the highway!
The next day I escaped into the back country, climbing to the top of Dripping Spring Mountain where I found this view.
This was our campsite. Carole, Andy, and I stayed at this spot. We took our bikes and used those to ride around the vast Elkmont Campground.


Vicki said...

Good to hear you're getting away for a few days. Enjoy!

I must admit the campsite you stayed at last time looks more appealing than a motel room in town. Especially if there are no other campers nearby. :)

Mark Gelbart said...

I've been to Gatlinburg once and that was more than enough.

The only wildlife I saw was 80,000 humans and 1 gray squirrel.


James Robert Smith said...

Mark...yes, I can sympathize. I'm not sure why I generally enjoy myself in Gatlinburg. Probably because I don't spend a lot of time actually IN the city. I eat at a restaurant, sleep in a hotel or cabin, then vanish into the wilderness in the Park.

Also...avoid Pigeon Forge. At all cost. It's Gatlinburg spread out with ten times the traffic jams. No thanks. I went there twice and I will never intentionally return.

One nice thing that the Park Service does these days is, if you're staying in a Park campground, they provide free bus rides into Gatlinburg and back. An attempt to cut down on car traffic in the Park and in the town.

James Robert Smith said...

Vicki: Yes, I do love to camp in the Great Smoky Mountains. But we just decided not to hook up the travel trailer and take it, settling for a hotel stay instead.

The Elkmont Campground where we stayed last is, to my way of thinking, the best campground in the Park.

Kent Tankersley said...

I also have a soft spot for Gatlinburg. I remember staying there overnight after winter camping in the Smokies, walking around a mostly deserted town in the cold air, and firing up the camp stove in the motel room to make hot rum toddies. The next morning, an ice storm hit and we had to put the chains on my father’s truck just to get out of town through Pigeon Forge, never mind even trying to go back over the mountains to Cherokee. Later we would make annual family New Year's ski trips there. Good memories.

James Robert Smith said...

That was a great trip! As I recall, we made two trips there in Winter with the old gang, and both times it snowed.