We visited the Great Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee during the long Columbus Day weekend last week and had a blast. We were able to use our accumulated sky miles for the flight and our stay was free for three nights because we attended a Time Share presentation. The "Time Share presentation" does demand that we share our time during our vacation, but we have been finding that it is a more economical way to travel and we have gotten better at getting out of them more quickly. In addition, our hotel gave us a free buffet breakfast and free lunch was provided during our presentation the next day! We have been fortunate enough to continue to travel during these difficult economic times.
Ironically, as much as we have traveled, Uday has still not gotten over his fear of flying!! But we managed to have a safe round trip flight after just barely making it to the airport on the way home with only one minute to spare!
On our first full day we decided to take the most strenuous short hike so we could climb some rocks at the peak of the mountain. Rock climbing has been Uday's dream and he was finally able to make it come true on this hike called, "Chimney Tops". The hike was about 2 miles each way. It was very scary climbing the rocks with no safety equipment but it was also exhilarating!
It was a great feeling to have accomplished the climb and the view from up top was worth the risk! It was spectacular and breath taking!
Over the next two days we hiked two different trails to see waterfalls. These hikes were not as easy as we thought they would be, as they snaked through the mountain's narrow pathways. The first waterfall we hiked to was called "Grotto Falls". During this hike we saw the weirdest thing! A herd of "Llamas" that were being used to bring supplies up the mountain. We thought this was strange because Llamas are native to South America and we did not expect to see them in Tennessee.
The second waterfall we hiked to was called "Abraham Falls" which was in "Cades Cove". "Cades Cove" was my personal favorite place in the Smoky Mountains and we ended up going there three times during our trip. The drive there is 25 miles each way and is a long windy road. Many times on the way we got distracted by the beautiful scenery and pulled over to take more pictures. We enjoyed the fall foliage, which I haven't seen in person in years now, and it was Uday's first time seeing it. What I loved about "Cades Cove" was the graceful deer we saw at sunset in their natural environment and the gentle looking black bears, who seemed to be more afraid of us than we were of them! Uday loves nature but is afraid of bears!
We have been experimenting with our new camera and have not quite learned how to use it to the best of it's ability, but we did capture some good pictures. We also took extra (modeling) pictures of each other while experimenting with our new camera. We hope that our photography skills will continue to get better for each trip we take!
Click on the picture below to view more pictures of the natural beauty of the Great Smokey Mountains:
One of the nights, after having a nice meal at a restaurant called "Cherokee Grill", we dared to go into the "Mysterious Mansion". We bonded with strangers quickly while waiting in line and while holding on to them throughout the haunted house. It was wicked!! That night we also took the Sky Ride which gave us a beautiful view of the little town at night and led to a romantic night!
Click on the picture below to view more pictures of the quaint town of Gatlinburg:
We also enjoyed our visit to "Ripley's Haunted Adventure" at night and "Ripley's Aquarium" during the day. "Ripley's Haunted Adventure" had cool effects and "Ripley's Aquarium", although small, was really soothing and felt like it was out of this world as we walked through the tunnel of different kinds of fish and sharks. There we also saw the most beautiful jelly fish where it was impossible to take a bad picture of them.
Click on the picture below to view more pictures of Ripley's Aquarium:
As usual, we were on the go the whole trip and we loved every minute of it!! I would recommend Gatlinburg, Tennesse to anyone. Beautiful mountains and nature, good food, a lot of family entertainment, candy, stores, and just something for everyone!!
Stay tuned for the video of our trip that we hope to post soon!