Rest stop along I-71 north of Cincinnati.
Why are we going to Gatlinburg, Tennessee? Usually we are ocean and flatland people. One of our very good friends got married this weekend in Gatlinburg.
We left our little Midwestern Ohio town around 1:00 in the afternoon. This trip was a first multi-state trip for my beloved car in the 5 years I have owned it. I have owned this car the longest of any car, and it has gone the least amount of places. I have driven to North Carolina and back from Ohio a couple times, but it has been a few years. I am not used to driving more than about 3 hours at a time, and this was over 7 hours.
We made it just fine with minimal stops.
Garmin helped us get everywhere!
Anyone who drives a manual transmission can sympathize with me here when I say I am a flatlander. The area where I live is as flat as a tabletop. Shifting is not a problem. This was a first experience with mountains and a manual. I learned how to feather a clutch and had to stare down the decision of making the transmission smell very hot because I was stopped on the side of a mountain, needing to go uphill - or sliding back 50 to 60 feet. STRESSFUL! However, I would like to report that we made it back just fine with no major repairs needed.
Driving was fine until we hit Pigeon Forge, an uber-touristy mecca complete with over-the-top neon, paintball, laser tag, magic shows, go-kart driving, upside-down buildings, $2.
99 T-shirt and handbag shops, games, rides, tour-the-Titanic, haunted house, dinosaur world, souvenir stand, and everything else meant to get your kids to bug you until you spend ALL of your money. Oh, there were a few things of interest (I like go-karts and putt-putt just as much as anyone else) but overall, it was VERY touristy and completely over-the-top. I’m not a big one for “suck-you-in-and-drain-your-wallet” attractions, and Pigeon Forge was LOADED with them. It reminded me a LOT of the non-Disney areas around Orlando. Just crazy tacky tourism neon money killers everywhere. And to top it all off, traffic on the impossible main (and only real) stretch of road took us a couple hours to get through (and it was only a few miles.)
We stayed in a chalet on the side of a mountain in the Smoky Mountain Natural Forest. It was beautiful! Our king size bed was lopsided sue to a missing leg (in which someone had substituted a log) and no middle support. We shared the cabin with another family (friends) and there was more than enough room for 4 adults and 2 children. As you can see from the pictures, the cabin itself was gorgeous! It had a hot tub (that I never used) and was very clean. We encountered a few bugs, but that is to be expected in the middle of a forest on a mountain.
We arrived around 10:00 p.m. and settled into the cabin for the evening.