Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Great Smoky Mountains Adventures

 Each year my friends and I take a vacation. Last year the virus made our trip to Michigan not happen, but it will next year, I am sure. This year, we decided on a trip to Asheville, NC and to the Great Smokey Mountains and Gatlinburg area. We have been there multiple times, but we don't mind going back.

This trip was to be fun and relaxation before the craziness of two kids getting married within two weeks of each other was to take place. Before I go into all the details, I will say that it was far from uneventful and not so relaxing. We left early on a Sunday morning and before we got to our cabin in Gatlinburg, I received a call that my mother had been in a rather bad wreck and was headed to the hospital to be checked out. She had been t-boned by a motorcyclist and was suffering from cuts on her face and I was worried about a concussion. ( Mind you, my mom is 85 years old this year and in fairly good health despite her life hanging in the balance from a ruptured esophagus).  Despite her car being totaled and her nose being broken, she was overall okay. Thank God!

Upon arriving to our cabin, we were not sure of the driveway because of the steep incline that it took to get down to it. However, we parked the van and our vacation had officially begun. The first day, we were just going to settle in with a trip to the grocery store and some other small stuff. Day 2 we were headed to the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. 

The Biltmore is absolutely breathtaking, but the downpouring rain made it next to impossible to enjoy the day. 

In the bottom picture, you can see the standing water that we were dealing with due to the constant rainfall. Seeing the gardens or other outside areas, was not going to happen unless we wanted to be really wet. Even an umbrella would not hold that much water off of you. 

This was one of my favorite areas of the house along with the library.

How I would love to have a wall of books like this. 

The next item on our adventure list was to go to Lake Lure. For those that are not aware, Lake Lure is where the film Dirty Dancing was filmed. Any Patrick Swayze fan will remember the log scene in the movie where he is teaching Baby ( Jennifer Grey) the dance moves. This was all in the Lake Lure area, so we were excited to go there. 
However, the Lake Lure community must not want the fame that comes along with the movie because this is literally the only way that it is honored in the small town. This hotel is where the star stayed while filming the movie and this sign is the only sign that mentions the film. 
I find it sad that a town that seems to be rather small and could use some tourism revenue would not have more details about the film than this. I was highly disappointed. We discovered that the area where the famous log scene was filmed has since dried up and is now the location of a housing development. Yes, I am aware that life moves on and that it has been 30 years since the iconic film was made, but I just expected more considering the appeal that the film still has. 

While on our way to Lake Lure, we discovered Chimney Rock State Park. You can read more about it here. We were excited to see the views from the top of the rock once we learned that there was an elevator that would take us to the top as myself and another friend knew we were not capable of walking up the multiple steps to see it. 
26 story elevator
see the top 
Beautiful scenery
Extra precautions to keep you from falling
What a beautiful mountain!
God's beauty at it's finest!

We truly enjoyed the time we spent here and I was even able to have my grand doll and daughter at home see me while I was on the rock as there is a webcam that they can view. Now, of course, shopping happened at the gift shop and we were all chatters about the amazing views until we got ready to leave and another bad experience began. The elevator ( 26 stories, remember) was out of order and the cashier is telling us that we must walk down due to a broken cable. Pure panic struck! I knew I was not able to walk down that many steps as well as my friend could not. How do they not have a backup elevator or something? Why would you not be prepared for something like this? Luckily, for us, that it was not a cable broken, but an issue with an electrical problem and it was fixed rather quickly. 

Tuesday was spent going to Pigeon Forge and walking around in the rain. 
The Old Mill is still one of my favorite places in that town. Although it rained most of the time we were there, we did have some fun looking at different things around town. 
 These two shirts were some of my most favorite. I am sure many do not agree with the top one, but I felt it stated a bit of how I feel about doing away with monuments, the Confederate flag, and other things that we have seen and heard being taken down as symbols of hate. 

Our next stop was lunch at Mel's Diner and it was absolutely delicious!!!
I had a fried bologna and cheese sandwich and it was so good!!
These onion rings were delicious!

The five of us shared this banana split! It was one of the best that I have ever eaten!!
Next was the Island. The fountain is a spot that I could sit and enjoy the water show for hours, if it had not been raining. 

Parrot Mountain has a shop at the Island and it was such a fun experience. We actually got to hold birds and have our pictures taken with them. 
My friends and I

These birds were my absolute favorite and I was fortunate enough to be able to hold one of these little guys. I want them so bad, but at thousands of dollars, I can't get them. 
I am not sure you can see what is on this photo, but about half way up that back tree is a bear cub playing with a brother or sister. This was awaiting us at our cabin when we returned. It was so much fun to watch them play. Then Momma arrived and she took them across the street, laid in the driveway and nursed them. 

Momma feeding her triplets! What an exciting Tuesday, but wait there is more! We noticed the van that we had borrowed from my daughter's fiancé 's grandmother  did not like the mountain that it took to get to the cabin. We thought it would be okay, but we discussed renting a Jeep for our Wednesday adventures, which of course included rain!

As I was drinking my coffee Wednesday morning, I suddenly noticed the passenger side van door was open. Now, I knew I had closed it on Tuesday night and was deeply concerned as to why it was open. My daughter went to examine why it was open and motioned for us to come down there. There had been a bear in the van! Yes, someone had left some snacks in the van and he or she was a hungry bear so they helped themselves to the snacks! A bag of Doritos, a can of spray cheese, some crackers, a package of hamburger buns, and a few Nutter Butter Cookies. Nothing was destroyed and the bear had done a great job of cleaning up after himself. We did find a couple of packages and the cracker box, but that was it. 
About 5 minutes after we cleaned up, he or she returned! Still hungry, I guess? My daughter finally scared it off and it did not get back into the van, but it tried very hard! Lesson learned, if in bear country be sure to have all the food out of the car!
We did decide to rent a Jeep that day and we enjoyed driving it around. We took a couple of scenic drives and went into Cherokee, which I was very disappointed in what it was like. Sad that things are so different there now. 
Beautiful mountains
A waterfall
Wild Elk that we seen as we were driving into Cherokee. Overall, other than the massive downpour of rain, the day was saved from the scare the bear in the van gave us. 

Thursday, our last day on vacation and the sun finally shines! Of course, good weather doesn't mean a good day. Within an hour of us getting loaded to leave, I received a phone call that my dear uncle had passed. 
Uncle Tony, a Vietnam Veteran and my dad's brother had passed. After a few moments to collect my thoughts and my composure, we decided to go ahead and finish our day. We had planned to do the Skybridge and we had planned to go to Ole Red for lunch. 
The Skybridge is the newest attraction of Gatlinburg. You ride a chair lift to the top and then you walk this pedestrian bridge that is glass in the center. Amazing! One friend was scared of heights, but she managed just fine and we truly enjoyed our walk across!
Our group of travelers

Look at that beautiful sky 

More blue sky and white billowing clouds as well as the entire town of Gatlinburg

Mountaintop view
Breathtaking scenery
Blake Shelton's restaurant is a new attraction too. The live music and delicious food makes it a great spot for tourists to enjoy some rest and relaxation while enjoying a delicious meal! Couldn't resist having a photo taken with "Blake".

Ole Red - One of his biggest hit songs !
Ole Red
I also couldn't resist taking this photo of the bathroom. I love the way it looks like an outhouse complete with starry sky! 

A fun trip, with many issues and problems, but filled with memories! 


  1. I amso sorry about your uncle. Seems like you were plagued with problems at every turn on your vacation! But you still got quite a few memories, and great photos for this blog post. Your mom really dodged a bullet, I am so glad she was alright. It must have really shaken her up.

    1. Yes, very shaken up and also very thankful that she was not injured. The trip was memorable in many ways.

  2. What an amazing adventure!!

    1. Lots of fun, even with all the difficulties.

  3. I think my comment got lost. So, I will try again: An amazing trip, glad your mom is OK.

    1. Thank you! She has dodged a bullet twice now in a few years and I must say that I am thankful for that.

  4. Aw, so sorry about your uncle. What a wonderful trip! Take Care, blessings to you and your family.

  5. Boy, talk about the highs and lows on your trip. I'm glad there were so many good memories despite the sorrow of loosing your Uncle and your Mom's accident. I'm glad she is ok too.
    It looks like such a beautiful country and you are so fortunate that the car wasn't destroyed by the bear. they are clever at getting into things.

  6. Sorry about your uncle. That sounds like an amazing and fun trip. I've only ever seen pictures of the Biltmore but I would love to visit there some day

  7. That was an eventful trip. I am sorry for your loss and glad your mother was ok.


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