Work Trip to Houston in Jan 2014

This is Vick’s first work trip abroad with Risktec. She’s on her way to spend a week with her colleagues based in Houston. This is a follow-on story from our Holiday to Las Vegas in Dec 2013.

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Sunrise over Sevierville
Sunrise over Sevierville
Sunrise over Sevierville
Sunrise over Sevierville

Holiday to Tennessee in Mar 2024: Day 8 – Driving in the Great Smoky Mountains

By Nige on Sat 30 Mar 2024 at 19:18
Type: Post
Story: Holiday to Tennessee in Mar 2024
Tags: Hertz | Hilton | Holidays | Sevierville | Tennessee | USA

We slept OK for the best part, and we slept in beyond 7am – a little later than we would normally be up. Breakfast comprised fruit, cereal, and bread/jam, which was nice enough.

The view from the deck first thing in the morning
The view from the deck first thing in the morning
The view from the deck first thing in the morning
The view from the deck first thing in the morning

The coffee provided that fitted into the Keurigg coffee machine was horrendous.

So we needed to put that right on the way to the Smoky Mountains.

We also made up some cheese and ham sandwiches for our strenuous walking for the day.

We hoped to do some walking in the Smoky Mountains, but we failed to recognise what impact the American bank holiday Easter weekend together with being in America’s most popular park would have on our ability to go for a wander.

The typical view of the drive around Cades Cove loop road
The typical view of the drive around Cades Cove loop road
The typical view of the drive around Cades Cove loop road
The typical view of the drive around Cades Cove loop road

We started off at Starbucks, where we picked up our normal caffeine shots, and we then got back in the car and headed towards the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Along the way, we drove through Pigeon Forge, which looked like a poor man’s Vegas, with buildings that were designed to seem like they had come out of a disaster movie.

Where have we come to? This wasn’t what we were hoping for!

For us it undermines the brand value of a national park to have all of this crass commercialisation so close to the park.

The girlie at one of the few stops on the Cades Cove loop road
The girlie at one of the few stops on the Cades Cove loop road
The girlie at one of the few stops on the Cades Cove loop road
The girlie at one of the few stops on the Cades Cove loop road

We managed to bypass Gatlingburg on the way to the park, which we would look forward to experiencing on the way back!

The queue to park at the visitor center gave a good indication as to what we would face today.

The park ranger we spoke to was less than helpful when we asked what the best hike was for us.

All he cared about was moving on to the next visitor he could ‘help’.

We drove to Cades Cove loop road, which has only just reopened after the winter.

More queues of vehicles heading around Cades Cove loop road
More queues of vehicles heading around Cades Cove loop road
More queues of vehicles heading around Cades Cove loop road
More queues of vehicles heading around Cades Cove loop road

It was 24 miles away on roads with a speed limit of 30mph, so it naturally took us not far off an hour to get there.

There were trails marked along the way, but at those that we might have stopped at, the car parks were already chocker, so we were forced into carrying on.

There were lots of nice places to stop alongside the river, so we made a mental note for the way back.

Lunch on the river bank did sound very appealing.

A lovely spot for lunch in the Smoky Mountain National Park
A lovely spot for lunch in the Smoky Mountain National Park
A lovely spot for lunch in the Smoky Mountain National Park
A lovely spot for lunch in the Smoky Mountain National Park

When we reached Cades Cove, we joined the loop road, which was a single-track 11-mile drive, and by this point, vehicles were nose-to-tail.

At one point, we even approached a family of four on bikes, riding in the middle of the road at a crawls pace, without any common sense to move to the side of the road to allow traffic past.

I’ve never seen anything like it before. A complete lack of any consideration whatsoever. That improved our mood, no end!

Eventually, we got to the end of Cades Cove loop road, and we headed back towards the visitors center.

Vick and I doing our best for a selfie!
Vick and I doing our best for a selfie!
Vick and I doing our best for a selfie!
Vick and I doing our best for a selfie!

We were pretty down in the dumps by this stage. We had been able to do no walking so far, and there were so many other visitors that you couldn’t see the wood from the trees.

Once back on the main road, we found two places to stop.

The first on a u bend where we were close to the river. We enjoyed our lunch overlooking the flowing water.

The second with access to a waterfall, which was pretty.

The waterfall at stop number 2 on the way back to the Sanctuary
The waterfall at stop number 2 on the way back to the Sanctuary
The waterfall at stop number 2 on the way back to the Sanctuary
The waterfall at stop number 2 on the way back to the Sanctuary

We headed back to the Sanctuary Treehouse Resort, via Gatlingburg, which was even busier than Pigeon Forge was on the way out to the park. It took us ages to get through.

Key lesson learnt: never touch a national park during a bank holiday weekend!

From our base, we walked around the development, which to be honest didn’t take us long, but we were desparate to stretch our legs.

A view of one of the newer treehouses being built at the Sanctuary
A view of one of the newer treehouses being built at the Sanctuary
A view of one of the newer treehouses being built at the Sanctuary
A view of one of the newer treehouses being built at the Sanctuary

We were suckered into heading out again in the car to CVS in order to procure more Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake, which went down so well last night.

A lot of shops will be closed tomorrow, so we may as well make hay when the sun shines!

We prepared for dinner, which comprised sausages and chicken kebabs. We had more very tasty prepared salad and of course we had some more B&J ice cream!

Dinner on our deck at the Sanctuary
Dinner on our deck at the Sanctuary
Dinner on our deck at the Sanctuary
Dinner on our deck at the Sanctuary

Dinner was another very tasty affair.

Whilst we ate, we planned our hiking day for tomorrow, applying the lessons we learned about the Smoky Mountains today.

The alarm will be set, breakfast has been prepared, so we can eat quickly. Our packed lunches have been prepared too.

We will (hopefully) pop into Starbucks on the way, but we are aiming at being at our two potential hikes by around 8am.

The view that the owners do not publicise about the Honey Hole
The view that the owners do not publicise about the Honey Hole
The view that the owners do not publicise about the Honey Hole
The view that the owners do not publicise about the Honey Hole

We waited for the sun to go down and not long after 8pm, it started to go dark.

This place has so much potential, but we both think that it’s disappointing that the one view you don’t get to see from the deck of the Honey Hole at the Sanctuary Treehouse Resort is the one of the maintenance area.

You don’t get that view from any of the other treehouses, as far as we can see!


Follow the whole story here: Holiday to Tennessee in Mar 2024


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Author Bio: About Nige

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Nige is one of the co-founders of The Billingham Blog and works as a freelance management consultant. He loves to fly in his spare time!

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