Gatlinburg

View from the back porch

View from the back porch

When I found out that my fiancé, Brian’s family was having a reunion at a time and place where we could both attend, I was both excited and terrified. I am not the most social creature, and other than Brian’s immediate family, I would not know anyone there.

Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg

When I found out that the reunion would be held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, my fears fell by the wayside. I grew up in a family that had taken many camping trips to The Great Smokey Mountains, and visited Gatlinburg each time. It had been years since I had visited, and the pleasure at seeing the place again far outweighed to worry of meeting so many people who were strangers to me.

Gatlinburg street

Gatlinburg street

Gatlinburg itself was much as I remembered it. Though it had been over a decade since I had visited, it was the same crowded, bustling tourist town that I remembered. Gatlinburg’s sole purpose seems to be to remove money from tourist wallets, and I have never cared. I adore Gatlinburg, with its pancake houses and taffy shops. I am a tourist ready and willing to part with some hard-earned money to eat homemade pancakes and buy taffy for my entire family back home.

Family game night.

Family game night.

The reunion itself was lovely. Even with my social anxiety, it’s hard to be nervous when so many folks you have never met make it a quest to greet me warmly and include me in everything. When I stepped on a giant hornet that got stuck in my sandal and stung the heck out of my foot, it was Brian’s aunt and uncle, people that I had only just met, that bought me the Neosporin with pain relief that saved my foot and my vacation. It was not only the family’s kindness, but their fun-loving spirit that made me feel a part of the clan. It’s hard not to have fun with a family that schedules nights for game playing and sing alongs.

View from the back porch 2

View from the back porch 2

And it’s doubly hard to be anxious when the view from the back porch of the huge cabin you are staying in looks like this. The Smokies are beautiful, and every moment seems to bring a twist of light, a hue of cloud, a creature or flower that makes your heart sing. The cabin itself, a giant of many bedrooms and bathrooms, hold its own charms. Nestled on the face of a mountain outside of Gatlinburg, with trees hiding it from view of your neighbors, it is as if you are alone with the mountains. The fact that there is a hot tub on the sprawling wooden back porch is icing on the cake.

Gatlinburg butterfly

Gatlinburg butterfly

A trip into the city brings pancakes, taffy, beautiful views, and a trip to Hillbilly Golf, the most picturesque miniature golf course I have ever had the pleasure to play. Built on the side of a hill, one has to take a mechanical car to the top to begin, and then wind one’s way down the hill as the game plays out. The only disapointment I had was that I didn’t win, but with Brian’s golf enthusiast family, I hadn’t been expecting to.

Hillbilly Golf

Hillbilly Golf

Even in the city itself, the views of nature and homes tucked into the hills is a constant pleasure.

Hill houses, Gatlinburg

Hill houses, Gatlinburg

And while the city itself has grown and changed, there are some iconic images that remain the same as when I was a little girl, with her mind on nothing more lofty than eating taffy and finding a coonskin cap.

Taffy Man

Taffy Man

Another afternoon finds Brian and I getting a little alone time as we explore a trail that my family always hiked on every camping trip. The trail to Alum Cave is beautiful, and the path near the trailhead was easy on my hornet-stung foot.

Creek on the Alum Cave Trail

Creek on the Alum Cave Trail

It took some time, but when we discovered the very place where my family always stopped to eat a picnic, my adventure felt complete. My only sadness was that my family could not be there to share the moment with me, but it was a new pleasure to share these old haunts with my sweetheart.

Alum Cave trail, picnic spot

Alum Cave trail, picnic spot

We only had a long weekend in this wonderland, but every moment was spent with family fun or nature’s wonder. This magnificent mixture of nature and city streets was everything I remembered it to be, and I do not intend to wait another decade before I visit again.

The moon at twilight

The moon at twilight

Mushrooms on Alum Cave trail

Mushrooms on Alum Cave trail

A skink on the porch

A skink on the porch

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About JulianneQJohnson

I am a writer in Indiana who lives with two cats, two ferrets, and one fiance. I enjoy cheap coffee and expensive chocolate.
This entry was posted in Gatlinburg, photography, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gatlinburg

  1. sarahlmandl says:

    I’ve rented a cabin in Gatlinburg for spring break. I’d love to know what rental company you used. You have magnificent pictures.

    • I’m sorry, Sarah, but I don’t remember the rental company. My fiance’s parents made the arrangements. But I can tell you that wherever you stay, you will get great pictures! The entire area is gorgeous!

  2. Nice! We live close to Gatlinburg and it can be a great getaway.

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