The Great Smoky Mountains

Ever since I was big enough to remember, I have always loved the mountains. Every summer my daddy would choose a day, wake us up before dawn, load us up in the car, and surprise us with a trip to the mountains. We always went to the same place … Helen, GA. We would explore the town a bit, have lunch, and then drive around. Usually, we would end up at Brasstown Bald and stroll up to the peak. Every trip, he would tell us how you could see seven states from there on a clear day. It was always special, and I grew to love those Smoky mountains. To this day, the very sight of those peaks coming in to view fills me with joy.

Well, last week my son and I got to explore a bit in the smokies. We had some timeshare points left to use, and my son had not been able to take a trip without his sister this year, so we headed up to the condo in Gatlinburg .

The best thing about taking a trip to Gatlinburg is that we get to drive along the pass through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN. This pass is beautiful no matter what time of the year you travel it, and this time we were able to travel through it in the winter and experience the pass adorned with ice and snow. But, I get ahead of myself…

As soon as we entered the pass, we saw signs for a historic grist mill. It seemed like a good place to stop, and Jonathan needed to stretch his legs, so stop we did. ┬áIt was quite cold up in the mountains…considerably colder than back home. I donned my jacket, grabbed my camera and headed for the trail. It was just a short walk to the grist mill, and I got several good photos.

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Of course, at some point I made a comment that the aqueduct (I assume that is the correct term) was made out of real life Lincoln Logs. My son responded that he was pretty sure that was the building style Lincoln Logs were created after. Why does that boy have to be so smart and ruin all my fun? Anyway, after our photo adventure, we headed back to the truck and hit the road.

We stopped in several places. I loved how the green lichen on the trees stood out against the stark bareness of the leafless landscape.


As we reached the higher elevations, we began to see ice and snow.

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The landscape at the top of the ridge was absolutely beautiful.

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Eventually, we made it to the end of the pass and found our way to the grocery store and then Mountain Loft Resorts. The room was lovely and had a great view, and we settled in for the evening to watch television and eat popcorn. I got several photos from the balcony of the room at different times of the day.









The next day we dilly-dallied around until around noon when we headed out to see what we could see. We decided to drive the Motor Nature Trail through part of Gatlinburg. As we drove around this, we stumbled upon an old farm that I didn’t remember from my last trip. It looked like a good place to take some pictures, so we stopped.

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The rest of the day we spent in town shopping and eating. We took Peppermint the Sock Monkey with us. (You can check out his adventures on the facebook page Sock Monkey Road Trips or the Google+ Community Sock Monkey Madness!). I tried some moonshine while we were there. It is not my favorite drink. My son does not have a good winter coat, so as the temperature began to drop and the wind began to pick up, we headed back to our condo to watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 (very good movie, by the way).

The next day, it began to snow as we headed out. Jonathan got some experience driving in the snow…and the mountains. He did rather well and didn’t scare me too much. I got a couple of shots out of the window as we went, but he decided it was best to concentrate on getting through the snow rather than stop for pictures. I must admit, I agreed with him 100%.

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We had a great trip. If you get a chance to visit the Smokies in the not so dangerous snow, do so. It is beautiful.