Monday, December 5, 2011

From Chicago to North Carolina & Tennessee

My husband (T) and I love road trips. We try to do one or two road trips per year, it depends on the destination and time. This fall we decided to take a nice long drive from Chicago to North Carolina and Tennessee to visit southern parts of Appalachian. I spent countless hours of my time trying to plan this trip, to make sure we get to do and see the most we can in one short week, and that’s including the driving time. I’ve played with the schedule and changed it several times, every time the mail came and I got new flyers and brochures, thing would change, until one day, when I loved every single day we had planned, and nothing would make me change it. At least that’s what I thought.

                      [ Me and my husband Tim]                                                       [My sister Ania and BF Marcin]

The main purpose of this road trip, obviously – was to enjoy the nature of beautiful Appalachian and visit one of the most visited National Parks in US, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the highlight of the trip! Neither I or T have never been to Smoky’s and we both were very excited for our trip. We also invited my sister (A) and her boyfriend to tag along, you’d be amazed how much can fit into an Explorer…


Ok, now this was the plan:

Day 1 – October 22, leave Chicago and drive to Johnson City, TN, (point B on the map)about 600 miles, 11 hrs plus stops, arrive get dinner, go to sleep, just to wake up and drive some more…

Day 2 – October 23, early morning drive from Johnson City (B) to Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, visit Price Lake (C) and Grandfather Mountain (D) along the Parkway, drive to Asheville, NC (E on the map)to spend the night…

Day 3 – October 24, original plan was to check out Asheville in the am, but we opted for more mountains,  we drove to Chimney Rock (F), (south east of Asheville), spend majority of our day hiking, and then the drive to Gatlinburg, TN, (G on the map) and I tell you – those mountain roads after dark are not easy to navigate… lots of curves, ups and downs, and many animals on the roads…

Day 4 -  October 25, we’re in Gatlinburg for 4 nights, staying at River Terrace Resort, downtown Gatlinburg. It’s older resort, but it was so well priced that I couldn’t pass it. And walking distance everywhere in town. Plus free parking! If you planning on visiting Smokys – Gatlinburg is the place to stay, it’s located at the foothills of the national park, and you don’t have to waste your time on driving from somewhere else. Smoky Mountains (GSM) are so huge and so spread out, that you will be doing a lot of driving in the park.
The first day  in the Smokys – we decided to do the obvious – The Newfound Gap Road, and Clingmans Dome. I will go over more details in few next posts.

Day 5 – October 26, hike to Chimney Tops in GSM in am, and horseback ride in the park – Sugarlands Stables right by the Sugarlands Visitor Center in TN.

Day 6 – October 27, Cades Cove and Abram Falls hike

Day 7 – October 28, leave Gatlinburg L and drive to spend the afternoon in Nashville, TN (H on the map)… perfect ending to our trip! Go out and have fun before long drive home

Day 8 – October 29, drive home - from Nashville, TN to Chicago, IL – we all were sad to leave. TN is such a beautiful state… and we had a great time in Nashville, honky tonky-ing!  Eeehaa!


Our schedule was packed, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize GSM are so huge, even by doing a lot of reading and map studying, I was hoping we get to do a lot more. But all the activities took a lot of time, every night we passed out exhausted. So I know for sure – I will be back, I am already planning another GSM trip for next year. There is so much more to see.

Oh, btw – being vegan in South Carolina and Tennessee wasn’t easy… Subway and French fries was pretty much my diet… J

More details and pictures to follow…

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