Last weekend I actually didn’t just sit around binge-watching something on Netflix; I know, what a surprise!?! I actually headed six hours south to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to meet up with one of my “people” that has been a sweet friend for almost all of my life – we’ve known each other since we were toddlers and we were joined at the hip in high school…
When we graduated from high school, we took our Senior trip together and one of the places we went was Gatlinburg – and so we decided that fourteen years later (excuse me while I go breath into a bag – FOUR-TEEN YEARS?!?) we’d do a little weekend recap.
Now – If you have reading the ol’ blog for any length of time, you might remember that back in November of 2014 I got hit by an 18-wheeler and it’s made me a little skittish when driving on the interstate. I was staring down the barrel of 6+ hours each way on I-81, which 18-wheelers absolutely love and I was just a wee bit nervous. I was also extremely excited to finally listen to the new soundtrack for Beauty & the Beast…and what that all translates to is me “performing” the most anxious version of Be Our Guest as I zipped past semis – it was a moment – no doubt about it.
I arrived around 8:00 on Friday night and was so tired of anything and everything involving driving, so I ordered a pizza, watched some TV, took a bubble bath and waited for Nickolee to arrive – around 12:15. I know we were both exhausted but we also hadn’t seen each other in over two years, so of course we had to chat just a little bit. Somehow even though we hadn’t gone to sleep until after 1:00 – we were both up and ready to go before 9:00 the next morning – I was being fueled by coffee, of course!
Our first stop was Pancake Pantry, located right in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg – it’s a tradition for any vacation my family has ever taken to Gatlinburg; we always eat at the Pancake Pantry on our last morning. Nickolee and I ate there on our first morning and along with (more) coffee, I had some delicious apricot lemon crepes with a side of bacon. Absolutely delicious! We also wandered up and down the main street of Gatlinburg, slipped into a couple shops and bought some things here and there…all while some wispy snowflakes fell from the sky! And of course – we took pictures – because documentation is always key!
Nickolee is a born and raised Mississippian and when she wasn’t living in the deep South, she was living in Madagascar – so the snowflakes that were gently drifting from the heavens were an absolute thrill to her. I’d like to think that I still find snow magical, because sometimes I do…but I guess I’m just sort of over it this year…I didn’t find it as fascinating, ha-ha! Especially having driven six hours south – only to find colder weather!
We passed the afternoon by stopping in at some of the outlet shops in Pigeon Forge, seeing The Shack and grabbing an early supper at Huck Finn’s Catfish Cabin (so very yummy!) We may have also made a pit stop at Krispy Kreme to grab donuts to have for breakfast on Sunday and then we headed back to the room to relax and watch Dr. Strange.
It snowed just a wee bit overnight and so the ground had a light dusting of powder – just enough to look like a giant had an accident with some powdered sugar, ha-ha. By 9:30 the sun was blazing and the snow was nothing more than a distant memory, so we decided to head over to Pigeon Forge for an early lunch at Paula Deen’s Country Kitchen. Well – y’all, Paula Deen does not play around with her food – and it was definitely the best meal I had on my long weekend and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. The meal was family style; we chose two main dishes (beef pot roast and fried chicken), four sides (squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas and creamed potatoes) and dessert (ooey gooey butter cake). It was DELICIOUS. And yes – it was so good that it requires caps lock.
The sky was the most perfect shade of blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – so we decided to drive over to Cades Cove and see the views from the valley. The drive over was gorgeous and the views were spectacular – I think my pictures speak for themselves.
Cades Cove is a restored community nestled in the valley with a loop road that has cabins, barns, a grist mill and various other things from days long past – this was once a working community and it’s always fascinating to drive through a little piece of history. Especially when the views are so amazing.
Once we drove back from Cades Cove, we played a rousing game of goofy golf – Nickolee proclaimed she wasn’t any good and yet she ended up getting two holes in one! I feel a little bit like I got hustled, ha-ha! The day was so lovely and spring-like, so we went back into downtown Gatlinburg and picked a couple more souvenirs before grabbing pizza and a movie to watch (The Girl on the Train).
The next morning we were up and at ’em to be on the road by no later than 9:30 – we had a quick breakfast at Chick Fil A before parting ways. It was a lovely end to a short but sweet weekend spending time with a cherished lifelong friend!
Happily – the return home was slightly less stressful; I wasn’t too tempted to grab my souvenir bottle of blackberry wine and no aggressive renditions of Disney classics were performed. Wonderful memories made – and happily, all that driving under my belt.