This weekend we packed up the Jeep and headed South to the Smokies. Our weekend adventure was mainly for Tyler. To celebrate his birthday a little early, and to also scratch that itch that he must go and travel. While all of this was true, I knew that this weekend would also be super beneficial for me. The Smokies is a favorite family vacation spot on my side. The mountains feel like a second home to me. Once we start driving through those, I can’t help but to take a deep breath, smile, and know that I’m home. One night while we were sitting by the fire, we joked about selling everything and buying an airstream or an old horse trailer and fixing it up like a camper, and just be tour guides/campground hosts. I laughed and dismissed the jokes, but now my soul is longing for it and considering if it is not such a bad idea
This weekend, my inner flower child/Gypsy soul was freed. It was a side of me that I have always known was there but was always made to push it down and keep it locked up. For example; a good Christian girl should never wear short shorts and a bralette while driving around town, but this weekend I did, and it felt SO good to! My soul was free. It is something that I have never felt comfortable enough with anyone to just let me be me. Tyler is different though. He encourages it. I’ve gotten my nose pierced and have purple in my hair now to give you an idea. Our adventures this weekend, while brief, were adventures that I would have not done with anyone but him. I took our good camera with us and unfortunately was only able to use it for our Saturday adventure, but I’ll make sure to include all the pictures I got this weekend. This post is going to be a long one, with stories from each day and all the pictures but I’m looking forward to telling you guys about it! “So let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start indeed.”.
Friday May 29 Traveling
Friday was a travel day. I got off work at 1pm then went home and gathered up the team, Tyler and Jeff. We stopped at my mom’s work to give her Grant’s suitcase for the weekend, said goodbye and left Bloomington heading South. Traveling for the most part was uneventful, other than the stop at mile 209. If you haven’t heard about that, go check out the Facebook page with the mile update. Let’s just say it involved a grown woman and a pacifier. We drove, ate way too many snacks, and had to stop almost every 100 miles because someone had to pee (Wasn’t me!). I wanted to get some shots of the mountains while we drove but as someone who gets car sick very, VERY easily, Tyler thought it would be a better idea not to (He wasn’t wrong). He volunteered to stop so we could, but I was restless and wanted to get there!
Tyler had a campground that he was told was open in mind for us to go to but when we were almost 2 hours out, we made a group vote to go to a campground that was only an hour away and in the park. This was a mistake. When we got to said campground, it was blocked off at the entrance. All park campgrounds were closed until the 1st. So we drove for awhile to find a place to turn around and to come up with a new plan. It was decided to just get a hotel room for the night as it was almost 10 o’ clock at night, pitch black out, and we were tired from the drive. This is not something he would do if it had just been him, I felt bad that we were off to a “not normal” so early on the weekend that was for him, but he said it was fine with him (Still not sure if I believe him). We enjoyed having a bed and a shower for another night and thank goodness we did. Saturday’s adventure was a ROUGH one!
Saturday May 30th The Rough Day
We started out the day with lots of energy and pep in our steps. After speaking with the front desk and getting our bag breakfasts we headed to a recommended campground to see if they had anything available for the night. It was a beautiful drive out of Gatlinburg to the campground that was a short drive away. The minute we pulled in, I could tell this was not a campground Tyler would like. We like to refer to it as “Glamping”. Lots of massive campers/RVS, bath houses, playgrounds, basketball/volleyball courts, even had a pool table and cornhole sets, they also had a church service Sunday morning, but they had a site available for the night! So we unpacked Jeff and set up our campsite for the night and made plans to go hiking on a trail that leads to Rainbow Falls which is on his bucket list.
I’ll keep this brief, but I still hurt from this hike. My calves still feel like a knotted mess of muscles. The trail head sign said that it was only 2.6 miles to the falls. I thought, “Okay, I can do 2.6 miles uphill! Not going to be easy but I can do it. I got this.” The beginning of the trail was also miss leading. Nice, flat, wide, gravel trail. It gave me thoughts of “OH! This will be easy!” Boy was I wrong!!! It was closer to 4 miles uphill, and the trail got narrower. It had multiple sets of stairs, it also was super rocky and rough in certain parts of the trail and it was UPHILL. It should be noted that this mountain is the tallest one on the east side of the Mississippi River. My Fitbit told the story of the day. I had to stop a TON! Poor Tyler. He was having no problem and was carrying the water. I would have given up on that stupid trail if it hadn’t been for Tyler. People the whole way up kept telling us it was worth it, you’re almost there. I can’t tell you how many times Tyler told “Mile, mile and a half.” Which apparently is a back-packer’s joke, it is not funny to me anymore just saying. But we made it DAMNIT! I’m very proud of it and the pictures prove it was worth it.
I had a blast once we got up there and after I managed to bring my heartrate back down to a normal pace. I took so many pictures and was able to be my creative self with the camera. We spent a good deal up there once we made it. The hike down was rough but thankfully it was downhill, so we at least didn’t have to stop as much. Of course, we had to stop and stick our poor feet in the nice cold water when we were almost to the end. I have not decided if I ever want to try the trail again but if you ever want a test of how good in shape you are in, go hike up to Rainbow Falls. Once we finished, we headed back to camp, made dinner, and then sat around the fire enjoying being together and people watching. While we were around the fire, we were discussing what our adventure for tomorrow would be, somehow Tyler convinced me to go white water rafting…
Sunday May 31 White Water Rafting
We got up, tore our campsite down, packed up Jeff and got out of the “Glamping” quickly. Not sure for who’s benefit, ours or there’s but we left early. We then headed to the adventure for the day. The one that I was not on board with, the one that has always been a fear of mine, something that I have avoided doing for years, and am still not sure why I did it. It should be noted I did not do it quietly; I went kicking, screaming, and complaining the whole time. We went white water rafting. Well… better described as Tyler went white water rafting and I just sat up front. Apparently, I’m no help when I’m trying to “help”. I got told to put the paddle down and just enjoy the ride and to stop “helping”. Oops.
I wish I could have brought the camera with me because it was a beautiful site! The creek, the landscape beside it and we had some perfect views of the mountains. It was a clear day and the sun was shining! I got a nice tan…Tyler on the other hand got a nice sun burn (Told you to put on sunscreen or at least a hat!). I didn’t get a lot of pictures from this day but mostly because I looked ridiculous! We had wet suits on, which I am thankfully for because the water was COLD! Only problem was, I felt like a beached whale in that stupid thing. Yuck.
I did it though! Tyler made it fun and even when I started getting too cold did his very best to make sure I didn’t get wet or splashed. It was fun and can see myself going again, after Tyler takes me out on the lake and teaches me how to paddle better! We then headed to our reserved campsite for the night. After getting lost briefly we arrived. Surprise, surprise, it was another “glamping” site….Sorry love! Campsite was set up, dinner was made, and Tyler went to bed while I stayed up and enjoyed the fire.
Monday June 1st Caverns and headed home
Monday morning when we got up we were sore, hurting, cranky, and somebody was still red as a lobster. I didn’t want to head straight home knowing that my legs could not handle a long drive without a least some walk beforehand. Neither one of us wanted to go hiking though and both had had enough of people. So we asked my office Manager at work who had stayed at the campsite and had spent time down in Townsend what her recommendations were. She told us about caverns that were close by that her and her family hadn’t done yet but heard they were fun. Caverns we went!
They were beautiful. Our tour guide had been there for 5 years so knew a great deal about the caves and was a blast. The grand room, as they call it, was massive! It can fit an entire football field no matter which way you turn it. When we got to the caverns, I tired to think ahead and decided to put a fresh battery into our camera so that I could take tons of pictures and not have to worry about the thing dying. I took one picture down there, which was blurry, before it died. It was not a fresh battery. I did get a couple pictures on my phone though.
After the caverns tour, we decided to stop somewhere in town to grab lunch before we headed home. We were recommended to a little burger shop called Burger Masters. It was delicious! Should have known though that when a mom and pop shop say double cheeseburger, it’s a DOUBLE cheeseburger. After we ate, we pointed Jeff north and drove. Made the trip home in good time, mostly because Tyler was over being sunburnt, sore, and just wanted to be home, so he drove the whole way home.
We made it home and have started returning to our normal. I missed my shadow and am excited to have him back. I am sure he enjoyed his weekend with different family members, getting spoiled rotten! I am thankful we did this trip. Am even more thankful that I tired not to say no to Tyler’s ideas and just let him take me on adventures. We survived a weekend together and are still getting married next year! Tyler, sorry you had to deal with my crankiness about things and not have a “normal” adventure the way you would have wanted to. I also somehow managed to survive all those stares from people about Tyler’s kilt, my goodness the reactions he gets about that thing. You don’t fully understand it until you actually witness it firsthand.
Hope you guys enjoyed my account of our weekend together and my pictures! I think it is save to say that Grant missed me. This is him while we were watching TV when we got home.
-Caitlyn a.k.a Pretty Lady