Smoky Mountains

Day 5, November 3, 2016
Start: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Detour: Great Smoky Mountains
Destination: Nashville, Tennessee
Total miles for the day: 273 miles
Total miles from day 1 start: 1208 miles

Gatlinburg felt like a mini, backcountry, southern Las Vegas with its bright lights and log buildings. At 4a, it was eerily quiet though. We woke up bright (well not exactly, it was actually still dark) and early to catch the sunirse in the Smoky Mountains. Since Gatlinburg is located on the back end of the mountains, we actually had to drive back over to the other side to catch the sunrise.

After doing some last minute research, it seemed the closest, best location for this was at Newfound Gap. And when I say close, it was still an hour drive from our motel. I was determined to catch another sunrise, but Marc doesn’t really have the same passion for sunrises and instagramming as me and well, who the hell wants to wake up at 4am (especially after driving forever and having just seen a sunrise over the mountains a few days ago). Lucky for me, he’s a trooper and he loves me, so he came with (after he argued and tried to convince me all sunrises were the same of course).

We finally timed it right this time, and caught the full sunrise. I got my first sunrise time-lapse! Such a beautiful view and so different from Shenandoah.

After we froze our asses off watching the sunrise, we decided to do a short hike. Why not check out the highest point (6,643 ft/2,024 m) in the park? Sadly, after our short, uphill climb to Clingman’s Dome, all we saw was super thick fog. Apparently, pollution has reduced visibility from 100 miles to 20 miles here. Instead of doing the short hike we originally intended on doing from the parking lot, we headed back down toward Gatlinburg and drove through the Roaring Fork Nature Trail. This is a 6 mile loop with lots of waterfall trails and historical lodges/farms along the way. We stopped for a short 2.8miles RT hike to Grotto Falls.

After we explored the Smokies, we went back to Gatlinburg for lunch. I didn’t realize how valuable the parking pass from the hotel was until we paid $10 for short term public parking! We stumbled into the Pancake Pantry which had the most interesting decor for an American pancake house. It had this weird, old English vibe but the food was diner-like. After our brunch, we shopped around and ended in a mall with lots of random shops. There were a lot of sport memorabilia shops and retro antiques I think you could call it? Gatlinburg really is so full of character.

With our stomachs full of pancakes (and salad cuz we’d been so deprived of veggies), we headed on to Nashville!

We were staying in a really nice Airbnb between Germantown and downtown. The neighborhood seemed nice, but when we got to the street, it seemed a bit questionable. We walked to dinner at Rolf and Daughters in Germantown. It’s one of Nashville’s best and I had no idea what to expect. It had the same Brooklyn, hipster vibe except there was very little diversity here. The food was creative New American. We started with this thinly shredded butternut squash (raw?) with pumpkin seeds and some kind of sauce which came highly recommended. It was interesting I guess? Still not sure if I liked it. Marc had their overcooked steak and I had a pretty good pork dish. We walked out and Marc immediately complained about how horrible the food there was. He apparently hated it and had to contain himself the entire time haha. I thought it was pretty good! I always believe steak is hard to get right for different people so maybe that was it. Well, anyway, welcome to Nashville!

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