Happy February friends,
Can you believe that February is here already? I can’t. Last Monday I went to Gatlinburg for an attractions meeting. The organization is called Southern Highlands Attractions and is made up of several top attractions in the south. Check out our website. I have probably mentioned this group before. We meet three times a year and visit other tourist attractions in the area and even some out of the area. We have traveled to San Diego, St. Louis and other states and this year we will be visiting Niagara Falls. I can’t wait for that one.
On Monday I left for the Gatlinburg meeting. Gatlinburg is about an hour and a half from me. We stayed at the new five star Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg. I had not been there before so I was really excited about seeing the resort and getting a chance to stay there.
The Margaritaville Resort is lovely. Of course it has an island theme and Jimmy Buffett music coming from speakers everywhere. All of the staff members wear tropical shirts and they are beyond nice. Customer service is something I always pay close attention to. I believe in it totally.
After getting checked in I went straight to a meeting that started at 1:00 PM. There was a lunch set up for us before the meeting started. After our meeting ended at 5:00 I had an opportunity to freshen up before we headed uptown to the Gatlinburg Sky Lift and Sky Bridge. You may remember I visited the Sky Lift and the new Sky Bridge, which is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, back in the fall when I was on my Sister Trip, you can read about that here. The bridge is 680 feet across with a height of 140 feet at its midpoint. The middle of the bridge has a glass-floor panel where you can see straight down. This part is a little scary. The night we were up there it was dark and rainy and the bridge was not as scary somehow. Darkness can do that. It was beautiful seeing the lights of Gatlinburg from such an altitude.
The next day was a full day of sight seeing. We started the day at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I have been there many times and so had everyone that was with us. So I though meh so what. But this time we met with the GM and we were able to do a behind the scenes tour. WOW!!! So much goes on to keep such a place running day to day. We were able to see how they prepared the food for the sharks and the other animals. It was just a different world from what is seen by people every day. So much to see.
This big girl is Sally. She is a sea turtle, she weighs about 500 pounds and she is 60 years old. She has to be put in this holding tank while the sharks are being fed, if not Sally will take the food right out of the sharks’ mouths.
Next we visited the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. I mentioned a few months back, on my Sister Trip post, that a wildfire spread through much of Gatlinburg in November of 2016. While a lot of the city was left untouched by the fire many many people lost their homes and businesses and several people lost their lives. It was horrific. After the fire many businesses were renovated and updated. The Ripley’s Museum is one of those. I have visited the Museum many times. I was really happy to see a wonderful change to the museum. The GM explained to us that they had discovered that people wanted to see more modern, and I know that modern and museum doesn’t necessarily mix, but in this case it does, pop culture. So we saw a lot of different and new things. It was very hands on and interactive. I loved it and can’t wait to take the hubs back to see it.
This village was built with 15,000 match sticks. Man I would hate to transport that.
We lunched at Ole Red’s, a fairly new restaurant owned by country star Blake Shelton. The food was good and the atmosphere was nice with lots of music. There is often a live band that plays. Since we were having lunch there was not live music. I think that is saved for night but I’m not sure. The home made tater tots are a must have as well as the fried, smoked okra and the yummy cornbread.
The next stop was Ober Gatlinburg. Another place I had not visited in many years. You have to ride a tram to the top or drive a very steep and winding mountain road. The trolleys in Gatlinburg will not drive this road. We took the tram.
It takes about 10 minutes to get to the top of the mountain by tram.
The temperature has to be below freezing, at night, for several days for Ober to be able to make snow. They were making snow the day we were there. You can ski, snow board, go tubing in the snow, ice skate and lots of other things. We didn’t get to do a lot because we had a very limited amount of time. I had on some boots that were not really for a lot of outdoor activities and were a little slick on the bottom. I was happy to just look around. Remember the part about the slick boots because they will come up again in a minute.
Our last adventure was a tour of the Smoky Mountains National Park, visited by 12.5 million visitors a year. I did notice on the agenda that a two hour plus time limit had been allotted for it. Nowhere on the agenda did it mention a hike. We pulled up to the Visitor’s Center and a Park Ranger got on the trolley and we drove down the road for about 3 miles. We pulled up to a lot that had a sign for Laurel Falls. I had heard of this waterfall and I knew it involved a hike. The Ranger was giving us instructions and precautions that we might want to take during the hike. Make sure you have plenty of water, almost none of us did, make sure you have comfortable shoes for walking up hill , lots of us didn’t. I showed the ranger my boots and she said they should be fine. She also told us it was 1.5 miles round trip. It was not. It was 1.3 miles each way. The first 1.3 miles was all uphill. The trail was narrow and wet and paved in most places. My boots were so slick. I probably should have turned around, some people did, but I continued on. Keep in mind it was not just the shoes but I am also out of shape and overweight. Also again we were on a time limit. I gave up on the time limit and just took my time. I had come this far and I was determined to see the falls and take some pictures. I was the last one to the falls and the last one back to the trolley. This was mildly embarrassing but I saw the falls and they were beyond beautiful. The falls are 80 feet high and named after the mountain laurel that grows wild around the falls. I will go back with my husband and I will wear hiking boots and take water and take lots of time.
See I told you it was beautiful and well worth the hike to see it even if it was a little scary. I am so glad now that we did the hike and got to see the falls.
That night we had a wonderful dinner and I think I was in bed by 8:30.
A full day I would say.
Wednesday was a half day of meetings and then headed home. All in all a great meeting and visits. As always I am soooo glad to get back to my little family.
Until next time, Always remember
Love your day your way!!