We're home! We really enjoyed our trip... it was totally relaxing and refreshing and just what we needed. It was hard to leave, and the drive home from a vacation is never fun. Yesterday the drive home was awful. The weather was hot as the devil and we were pretty bummed about the US losing their game (no more World Cup for them). Oh, also I am just covered in bug bites all over, so it was so hard not to scratch them all!
We stayed in the most adorable cottage. It was an old Victorian cottage tucked way into the Tennessee woods, right near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The owners have done such a nice job to make it feel so lovely inside and out. It was a truly peaceful place. In the guestbook, we found at least 3 couples who had married right there at the arch of the house. Inside, everything is antique or made-to-look antique, in yellow and blue. They even had old family photos up from the 20s and 30s. I was wondering if maybe since it was so decorated, we wouldn't feel comfortable, but we were. It definetely was our home away from home. Let me share a few more photos:
We ate lots and lots. For me, that's the best part of a vacation... trying all different kinds of foods. Since we were in Tennessee, we had to try some down home, Southern cooking. It was all so good, but so much food. Every place we went (the Old Mill and the Applewood Restaurant) serves homemade fritters (corn or apple) with dipping sauces, then homemade soup (corn chowder or veggie soup), then salad, then dinner (we tried Fried Chicken, Meatloaf, BBQ and Chix and Dumplins), THEN dessert ( which I could usually only eat a bite). It's more than I can eat at Thanksgiving. I love the Old Mill Corn Chowder... it's got a bit of a kick! I found some recipes from the restaurants to share. more recipes
I even made 2 packed lunches and ate leftovers! For me, that's saying a lot. I hate packing lunches, but everything is so expensive. Everytime we went to the Nat'l Park, I packed. And leftovers, we ate for dinner one night, because we didn't want to drive back to town (20-30 mins).
We decided not to go to Dollywood; it just would have been sooo crowded. We played putt-putt, did a little shopping (I'll do a post in a few days), a little walking around Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg can be a little crowded, so we walked in to the Ripley's Aquarium and it was WONDERFUL! I dare say I like it more than the Baltimore Aquarium. They have a really spectacular coral reef, and this cool tunnel you walk under. You look up to see the sharks, eels and fish.
Jellyfish usually freak me out, but they were my favorite at the Aquarium. It was so beautiful watching them swim. Check out the video:
Strange Jellyfish Photo
Also, look at this crab. It looks like it's a pretty large crab, but now look at it next to me! It's freaky what's at the bottom of the ocean!
We also did some hiking. I mixed some birdwatching in with it. We did a hike called Alum Cave Trail and very short walk called Sugarlands. I can't promise that I didn't whine a little; there were some really steep parts of the hike and I'm just not in great shape. I made it, though, without help, but my legs were sooooore. The view was worth it. The Smokies remind me of Virginia, but the mountains are just a tad higher. The waters look so much like what you see here.
Last but not least, I need to share the bug and animal situation. The house was way up in the woods. Right near a National Park. But. We were warned to keep the drains closed so that creatures wouldn't crawl up and out. I thought we did a pretty good job, but I guess not. I stepped on what felt like a piece of candy, so I went to scrape it off on the rug, only to discover it was something called a mountain scorpion!!!!!!! I freaked out and bugs don't usually scare me. This thing's tail was all curled up and everything. It didn't sting, but since I am also covered in bug bites, any time I feel any little thing on me, I get a little nervous that it's some kind of bug! Would this thing scare you???
It does curl it's tail!