Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Balmy Holiday, Part 1

Since I booked the lodge LAST January and already put down a substantial deposit we were gonna lose, we were committed to a Christmas holiday week in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. Never mind that we had moved to another continent in the summer and had to fly about seven hours to get within a three hour drive spitting distance of this place. Like the hardy pioneer stock of our forefathers, we trudged forth (or flew) over oceans and mountains to get to our destination. We were looking forward to s'mores by the fire, lounging by the fire, taking pics by the fire. You get the drift. 

Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't cooperate with our plans to enjoy the multiple fireplaces in our lovely log cabin atop the hill since all we got was mild temps. I was afraid to go hiking for fear of running across a venomous snake or bear that had postponed hibernation to enjoy the warmer than usual weather. We had all of these fireplaces to enjoy in the lodge, but seldom got to crank them up. It was so warm that two of the girls and the brother-in-law were wearing shorts one evening. As native Texans, we've spent many a Christmas with the AC running instead of the heat. But still... disappointing.

When we initially kicked off our Fun, Old Fashioned Merry Christmas Vacation in the Smokies, it was freezing for the first 24 hours. So cold that we hit an outlet store for an extra coat. We toured Biltmore Estate in Asheville on our first full day of the trip. There were 65 beautifully decorated trees in this historic home, but pictures weren't allowed. Eh, at least we got a shot of both daughters plus our niece in front of the facade on a very chilly morning.

After the tour, we hightailed it over the mountains (and through a few via tunnel) to our lodge in Gatlinburg.

In the pic above with my husband's parents, you can see Gatlinburg in the background. It was a STEEP climb up a switchback trail to get to our lodge at the top for this fantastic view. The one lane cow trail was covered in asphalt, which was its saving grace. Otherwise, I'd have had to park the rental minivan at the first turnout and hoof it the rest of the way. This was the one instance when I was grateful I didn't have to deal with snow and/or ice on the roads. The white stuff would have been really festive and pretty, but not practical for getting around without snow tires or four wheel drive.

Our first full day in Gatlinburg, we drove over to nearby Pigeon Forget to enjoy a day at Dollywood. The Christmas decorations were lovely, especially at night when we could enjoy all of the lights. Roller coasters and funnel cakes - what's not to love.

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