Week Eleven: Gatlinburg in a Day

If (assuming) you all have been following my weekly travel nursing updates, you would have known that we have played tourist guide to three different groups of guests. It’s only been two months and it seems like everyone is flocking to come see us here. And we aren’t even originally from Asheville! I don’t blame them. Asheville is just so pretty (I know I have probably repeated myself in this blog several times already) and us being here is just the perfect excuse for people to visit.

And we gladly oblige.

We move around our work schedules just to make sure to accommodate everyone as much as we can. This time around, my husband’s cousin from the Philippines is coming to stay with us for a week. He came to visit his mother in California and is here in the country for a couple of months, so we simply just invited him over. Remember my previous post about being “connected”? Yes, family.

Aside from the usual Asheville favorite hang outs we have (see Asheville in Four Days), we decided to take our guest out of state. The nearest one we think was fun and touristy enough was Gatlinburg in Tennessee. It was a close to two hour leisurely drive from Asheville. Following winding roads with beautiful mountain scenery, certain spots were picture perfect for the out of towner.

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We really didn’t have a definite itinerary in mind. I have researched things to do and places to check out in Gatlinburg but nothing really stood out. To tell you the truth, Gatlinburg really isn’t one of my favorite places. We have been here twice and nothing screams garish and kitschy like this town. The whole “strip” reminds me of Las Vegas country version. There’s no flashy casinos or glamorous shops but it has lots of restaurants, ice cream shops and an assortment of odd attractions. There’s LOTS of tourists though. I don’t know. There are just certain places that doesn’t hit you in the right spot. But, in all fairness, I can easily tell myself to go with the flow and enjoy when in the company of other people, otherwise if it was just me and my husband, we wouldn’t come here in the first place.

Since we had a first timer, garish and kitschy it shall be.

Before we got to Gatlinburg, we drove through the Foothills Parkway which is a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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I was being lazy and didn’t bring my big camera with me so the pictures here are all enhanced and edited.

When we got to the main “strip”, bathroom and coffee was the first thing on my hubby’s mind and ice cream on ours. We found this new-ish (we don’t remember seeing this one when we came last year) cute and charming village-like place with shops and eateries, aptly named, The Village. It evokes a quaint European feel with its fountains, narrow brick alleyways and unique old world designed shops.

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Bladders emptied and bellies warmed with coffee and cooled with ice cream a few minutes later, we continue on our sight seeing. Luckily, it wasn’t so crowded that day.

What do we spy next? Moonshine!!!

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There are lots of moonshine distilleries in Gatlinburg and most all of them offer free tasting. Hey, if its free alcohol, why not?! That first shot we had, the clear bottle on the right of the photo was pure fire running from my throat down to my stomach. Arghh!!! It made my eyes water and I just had to smack (lightly) the guy beside me on his arm – because he was laughing at my reaction.

After the boys had a few more shots of different flavored moonshine, with the cousin literally walking away from the bar because he thinks he has had too much, we walk out feeling warm and fuzzy in our insides. Ice cream and moonshine do not mix well.

Hoping to get some more fresh air and make our insides feel better, we tried out the Skylift. 1800 feet high up the mountain, the Skylift takes you on a slow and scenic ride where you get to see the Smoky Mountains and the town from down below. We didn’t get to see much at the top because it rained and most of the mountains were covered in clouds or fog or both. We got stuck at the gift shop for a few minutes waiting for the rain to subside, unless we wanted to buy $5 ponchos. No, thanks. We were able to go back down soon enough but not without having the seat of our pants soaked which was pretty much like what we were doing here today flying by the seat of our pants!

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For our next activity, we wanted to proceed to the aquarium but then decided against it since we didn’t have enough time to explore and look around the various exhibits. Ober Gatlinburg (a ski resort) was our next option, but thought the ticket was expensive just to get in for the limited things we can do up there.

Then, the hubby thought of something brilliant. He remembered he once saw a video posted to his social media a mountain roller coaster ride in Gatlinburg. We asked about it and found the Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster almost in the outskirts of the “strip”. There was no one in the parking lot. It was starting to rain again and we saw the ride was empty. Not a good sign. When we called earlier to ask if they operate in the rain, the voice message said they operate in rain, snow and sleet. Well here we are. Not to back out of a plan right away, we proceeded to pay for the entrance and found out that this was a self controlled ride. A what?! I wanted to ride tandem with the hubby if thats the case.

Suffice it to say, what started as me complaining about the fact that we were out here getting wet in the rain ended up with me screaming my lungs out till the end of the ride. “Slow down,” I screamed at my hubby as he was laughing and obviously enjoying himself listening to my distress as I held on to dear life with both of my hands while my knuckles turned pale from the effort. As we rolled away from our cousin’s sight, he could hear my screams among the trees and wondering what lies in wait for him.

As we got out from the car, I was already hysterically laughing from the adrenaline pumping action that we just did. Hubby couldn’t agree more.  That was fun and totally unexpected!

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This little day excursion just goes to show that there are some things that you can do for fun and discover new ones if only you are willing to open your mind and disregard the obvious.

I stand corrected, Gatlinburg!

So, what do you think?

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