Two important dates were quickly approaching and my husband and I -- being the poor planners that we are -- knew that time was running out.
Around mid-June, we decided we had better make plans for our anniversary, which falls the day after Independence Day. Because we'd waited so long to make plans and didn't have much time off from work, we knew we'd have to go somewhere fairly close.
We talked about Chattanooga, a camping trip, Rock City Falls, the Alabama coast, among some other weekend getaways, until I finally asked my husband, "Why don't you check on Gatlinburg?"
He had to call about eight or nine places, but, much to my surprise, he did find a room, even if it was overpriced, for the holiday weekend.
I've decided Gatlinburg was definitely worth the trip, for the following 10 reasons:
#10 ... It's cheaper than flying
Whether it's outdoor activities, shopping or entertainment you're looking for, Gatlinburg has it all. Even with gas as high as it is, it's still a lot cheaper than flying somewhere that might not offer nearly as much variety.
#9 ... Tunes 'N Tales
Gatlinburg is drawing in folks with its summer entertainment campaign that features storytelling, live music and dancing. You can catch Tunes 'N Tales at various locations throughout the city each night in the summer -- for free.
#8 ... Shopping
We spent a lot of time looking at the many shops along the streets, but the only thing I bought was a carved wooden sign for my kitchen. Sadly, I'll have to order another one, since I left it behind at one of the restaurants we visited, which leads me to my next point.
#7 ... Arrive hungry, leave heavy
Honestly, I was not expecting to find great food in Gatlinburg. What I found, however, was fabulous food. We visited The Peddler, Lineberger's (where I had some of the best lobster ravioli I've ever had), Howard's, Bubba Gumps, and, of course, Flap Jacks. I eat out so much that I think I could be a restaurant critic, and, in Gatlinburg, I was surprisingly impressed with the food.
#6 ... Olympic-like sledding
Since I'd never spent much time in Gatlinburg before this trip, my husband suggested we go to Ober Gatlinburg. We rode up to the top of the mountain on the tram, and what a sight Ober was. We rode the alpine sleds, and I had a blast, but more importantly, I found a place in Tennessee where I can ski next winter!
#5 ... Hogs & Honeys
I'm not lucky enough to own a Harley, so I'm not a biker chick, but if I were, this is where I'd spend a lot of my time in Gatlinburg. It's a fun biker bar (they have food, too) and its balcony provides a perfect place for people watching, or watching Fourth of July fireworks.
#4 ... Fireplaces and Jacuzzis
Like the food, I was not expecting much in terms of accommodations, but was pleasantly surprised with our large, quiet, clean and rustic room at Riverhouse at the Park, located at the end of town. Our balcony overlooked the river and the fireplace and Jacuzzi gave it an extra special touch.
#3 ... The Skyscraper
On our way home we stopped in Pigeon Forge at a theme park, specifically to ride The Skyscraper, which turned out to be one of the most thrilling rides I've ever been on. I've been skydiving before, but that adrenaline rush was nothing compared to the one I had on this ride. It's a must-do for any adventure seeker.
#2 ... Smoky The Bear
It was also highly recommended that I visit Cade's Cove while in Gatlinburg. The drive up through the mountains to Cade's Cove was fun in itself, but when we arrived, and drove through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I was thoroughly impressed with the natural beauty, the preservation of the old churches and homes, and all the wildlife we saw, including a black bear.
#1 ... President Bush
We justified the cost of our trip by agreeing that it would "stimulate the economy," so we used our economic stimulus checks to pay for it.
-- Sadie Fowler is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette. She may be reached at 684-1200 ext. 214, or at email@example.com.