Monday, July 11, 2011

Smoky Mountains

So, we ventured out of Indiana and Kentucky over the Fourth of July weekend and headed down to Tennessee.  Final destination was Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  I decided that my husband and I needed to get away for a long weekend and have a mini vacation together. It is not that we do not ever get away, it is just that we have never been away together for more than a night, since we have been married, except for when we go to visit family on the weekends.  My husband and I did not even get to go on a honeymoon because he had been transferred and I was wrapping up my old job, so that I could start my new job and was in the process of moving my things down to his apartment.  So yes, after we got married we went right back to work. :-)  I thought it was high time that we took a vacation that was just not an overnight trip or visiting family!

So when thinking about where to go, I was trying to think of somewhere that was not to far of a drive but something that was different as well.  I came up with going to Gatlinburg.  I remembered that I had gone with my parents when I was about 8-10 and that my best friend had gone with us.  We had such a good time, I thought that maybe my husband and I could make some memories together there and since he had never been before and I knew that he wanted to go, this is where I decided that we would go.

I planned all of this in one week, it was a spur of the moment decision.  We have a family and friends discount that we can use at Holiday Inn hotels so I decided to see if we could use this and found out that we could.  There was availability at the Holiday Inn in Pigeon Forge, TN.

So I took Friday off of work to do some laundry and pack, plus I am trying to burn through some of my vacation days, since they expire at the end of September.  When my husband got home from work we loaded up the car, ran a couple of quick errands and headed out to go to TN.  We did not arrive at the hotel until about midnight and my husband was a little sore from the drive, however the pool was supposed to be closing.  The lady at the front desk was super nice and told us that she would not lock the pool doors up yet, so that we could go and use the pool and hot tub.  We quickly unpacked the car, dropped everything off and put our bathing suits on.  The pool water felt so great and after a swim we felt very relaxed.  When we got back to our room, around 1:00 a.m., what did we discover?  Well, we discovered that our room door was not locking on the outside, so you could push it in, this was not good!  We called down to the front desk to let them know, we were fine for the night, since we could use the dead bolt from the inside to lock the door, but we wanted to make sure that they could fix it the next morning so we could go out and enjoy the sights.

The next morning rolled around and we called the front desk to see about having someone come up and fix the door.  They said that they would send someone up right away, so we waited and waited, then we waited some more, no one showed up and it had been over an hour.  We were not very pleased about this since when you go to Gatlinburg, it is typically not to sit by the pool or in your hotel room all day.  My husband went downstairs to talk the the front desk again.  They tried to give him an excuse but he informed them how long we had been waiting and that we had not come to sit around all day, if he wanted to do that then he could have stayed home.  Way to go dear!  They arrived shortly after that and it took them another hour to fix the door.  Finally we could go out and explore.

We got in the car and the destination was Gatlinburg, so that we could grab some lunch and walk around all the shops and explore.  We decided to grab lunch at Dick's Last Resort, this was a bad idea.  If you go to Gatlinburg, do not go there!  They were trying to be like an Ed Debevic's but Ed Debevic's they were not and the food was terrible.  I would definitely NOT recommend this place.  After lunch, we headed towards the aquarium.  While walking down there we explored some of the shops on the way there.  Now, if you ever go to Gatlinburg, you MUST check out Ripley's Aquarium.  It is amazing and is absolutely worth the money!  They truly have one of the best aquariums that I have ever been to.  I was super impressed.  My husband and I both really enjoyed it and we were able to get a lot of great photos.  After the aquarium we switched sides of the road and looked in the other shops on the way back.  We were able to find some gifts for my parents, beef jerky for my hubby and a bottle of peach wine for myself.  We were both wiped out from the day, we did a LOT of walking.  So we found a restaurant called J.T. Hannah's and decided to have dinner there, it was not bad, the buffalo shrimp salad was actually pretty good. All, in all it was a wonderful day, despite the late start that we got due to the issues with our hotel room door.

On Sunday, we decided to sleep in and then drove up and down the strip in Pigeon Forge, stopping at some of the shops.  We also took a quick trip to the outlet mall to get my husband a new wallet from the Coach store, yes my husband LOVES Coach wallets.  I am so very proud of him!  We had a late lunch at Salsaritas Fresh Cantina, it is kind of like a Qudoba but much better!  Their chicken tacos were amazing, their salsa was just okay.  After that we took a drive through the Smoky Mountains, it is so peaceful and relaxing up there and much cooler temperature wise!  If you do go there you must take a drive through the Smoky Mountains! We had a late dinner at Tony Romas, definitely not somewhere I would go back to, not worth the money.  Then it was back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and a soak in the hot tub.

Then there was Monday, Happy 4th of July! I was sad that we were going to be leaving. We loaded up the car and checked out .  On the way back in to Gatlinburg we stopped to eat at Reagan's Broken Egg and Pancake House.  I think that this is the best place that we ate at our entire stay there.  Their pancakes and bacon were very delicious.  I would go back there and would recommend eating breakfast if you go there, do not eat breakfast at the Holiday Inn.  It was not very good.  After we ate we drove in to Gatlinburg to stop back in at a store that we had seen a piece of art work that we wanted to purchase and some other items.  We made our purchases and headed in to the Smoky Mountains for a scenic drive on our way home.  This kind of turned out to be somewhat of a disaster, we were stuck behind vehicles for about two hours or more. Well we finally found out why there was such a backup, a black bear had been spotted in a tree sleeping and everyone was slowing down to get pictures.  Unfortunately my pictures of it did not come out well, you could not see the bear in the photo because of the shade.  So although it was annoying to sit and not move it was really neat to see the bear!

This concluded our trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN.  If you have never been before it is a definite must do, add it to your list.  We would like to go back sometime and stay in a cabin, play some miniature golf and go horse back riding. We had a wonderful time exploring and spending time together.  I was not to impressed with the way that Holiday Inn handled the door issue that we experience, so in the future I would probably stay somewhere else.  The food was not that great, except for Salsaritas (fast food chain) and the pancake place but in tourist traps you come to expect this.

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and doing some exploring of their own!

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