I embarked on my maiden voyage to the Smoky Mountains this past weekend for some much-needed restorative hiking and nature communing. I had never been to the venerable mountains of eastern Tennessee. And now that I have, what can I say?

Achingly beautiful.

Views to make the heart take wing.

Truly, words to describe the grandeur elude me.
Gatlinburg, on the other hand, is another story. Not at all what I expected. Imagine the most kitschy carnival, boardwalk, and amusement park all rolled into one...add bumper to bumper traffic and a couple dozen tattoo parlours, and you come pretty close to imagining the phenomenon that is Gatlinburg. And although I'm sure words would not elude me so readily in further describing this town, I am up to my eyeballs with work at the moment and so will defer my own description to that of the inimitable Bill Bryson:

Gatlinburg is a shock to the system from whichever angle you survey it, but never more so than when you descend upon it from a spell of moist, grubby isolation in the woods. It sits just outside the main entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and specializes in providing all those things that the park does not - principally, slurpy food, motels, gift shops and sidewalks on which to waddle and dawdle - nearly all of it strewn along a single, astoundingly ugly, main street.
For years it has prospered on the understanding that when Americans load up their cars and drive enormous distances to a setting of rare natural splendor what most of them want when they get there is to play a little miniature golf and eat dribbly food.
So Gatlinburg is appalling.

Fortunately, we did not spend any time in Gatlinburg and instead basked in the refuge of the surrounding nature (well that, and the hot tub at our cabin!)


jim said...

Well, at least you have mountains/woods to escape to...and a cabin! There is nothing even remotely like that down here in Florida-Rico...err, I mean "Florida".


terah said...

Yep...sounds just like I remember it as a kid. Of course back then, amusement parks were fun :-) Just be thankful you had the mountains and your cabin/hot tub to esacpe to.

bethany said...

yes...that sounds....um....very..relaxing? In the words of Chunk the Large (and Wise) "I love the dark, I love the dark...but I HATE NATURE, I HATE NATURE!"

kelly said...

Well if you would have asked I could have told you not to expect and relaxing retreat from Gatlinburg, b/c you wont get it.

cathryn said...

Oh no...I didn't actually expect a relaxing retreat in the form of Gatlinburg, I was far more excited about retreating to the mountains!