Smoky Mountains: Day Eight

This post was written about July 5th, 2016. To see the rest of my series check out below (as this is the last one!)

Locations: Bryson City, NC


More Blueberry Ego Waffles were apart of today’s breakfast. To fancy it up I put Strawberry Cream Cheese, Strawberries, Bananas, and Blueberries on top. We hung around the house for about 2 hours until it was time to go…..Zip-lining! When we ate breakfast outside the mountains were showing with just a bit of clouds. About an hour later it started to rain and you couldn’t anything but the mountain close to us! It was crazy how it could change so fast!


Off to Zip-lining we went around 11:30. We were supposed to start at 12:30 but since of the rain and lightning  we waited about an extra hour (so worth it though!) Once the lightning  and rain cleared we suited up or geared up (you choose) to head out! I got a helmet with a GoPro mount so I could capture all the action and I am so glad I did! I was hesitant at first, not wanting to lose my expensive camera but all was well. We chose Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tours to do our zip-lining at and they did a great job! They explained what you needed to do and let you practice, kept it fun on the course, and most of all kept everyone safe. Shout out to our 3 leaders: Barrett, Trae, and Kenneth!


When we first started on the course I was pretty nervous. When zip-lining you have the brake when you get about 3/4 of the way through. Getting the hang of it was not too bad though I did hit my legs on a platform my first time…(I have a bruise now). It was fun being high up and going fast down the lines. There were 13 lines and it took about 3 hours to complete. Also you MUST watch the video below because “GoPro is insane!!”

After zip-lining we came back into Bryson City for a sweet treat. Not having lunch I treated myself to a White Chocolate Caramel Apple (best ever!) at The Chocolate Shoppe and Ice Creamery. Before heading back to clean up we made reservation at The Cork & Bean in town for 6 so we would ensure ourselves a table.


The Cork & Bean for dinner was the best food EVER! The Cork & Bean is inside of an old hotel and the atmosphere is very inviting. To start our dinner off we ordered the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with bacon, sweet onions, shaved parmesan, and garlic aoili. The garlic aoili made the dish well-rounded with the right about of roasted with non-roasted ingredients. I got the Southwest Turkey Crepe which had Smoked Gouda, Avocado, Turkey, and Salsa. (have to try to remake it at home!). Both of my parents got The Duck & Andouille Etouffee which was something like a Cajun dish. For dessert my parents ordered the Lavender Crème Brûlée. For the longest time I’ve being seeing a coffee drink called a ‘Flat White’ around Instagram and Snapchat. I tried a Hazelnut Flat White out and it was so good! The only difference I can tell between that and a regular latte is that it’s not as strong. My brother got a Mocha Frappchunio (I think he swears by getting one of these any coffee place he goes).


Our last night at the house we watched the sunset and played some more cards.


This trip has let me experience lots of amazing views, try new things, eat lots of good food, and enjoy time with my family. Thank you to everyone who read my series Smoky Mountains! Stay tuned for more blog posts soon. Much love, Brianna.

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Smoky Mountains: Day Seven

This post was written about July 4th, 2016. Check out my previous days below.

Locations: Bryson City, NC -> Great Smoky Mountains National Park -> Gatlinburg, TN -> Bryson City, NC


It’s Fourth of July and I am currently dressed in red, white, and blue because USA. Breakfast today was Blueberry Ego Frozen Waffles. Being a waffle and pancake snob they weren’t my favorite. But then again, I always make my waffles from scratch.


As we made our way to our first destination we stopped at got some boiled peanuts and pork rinds. YUM!


Traveling to get to where we want to go has been a big part of this trip. That being said, if the mountains weren’t here it would take half the time it does to get to certain places. Today we traveled to Clingmans Dome. Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoke Mountain National Park at 6,643 feet. Usually the Dome offers views up to 100 miles but of course it was super cloudy today. Being so high up we were literally in the clouds. It was still cool though when the sun peeked through and you could catch a glimpse of the mountains through the clouds. At Clingmans Dome it’s about 20 degrees cooler than it would be down below. Today I think the temperature reached around 62 F. It felt like we were in Alaska and not in Tennessee!

Being pretty hungry we made our way to Gatlinburg, TN. We were going to eat at the Wild Plum Cafe but they were closed since it was the 4th. Instead we ate at The Smoky Mountain Brewery. Funny story, I brought along the July/August issue of my Food Network magazine and they did a piece on the top 5 most visited National Parks to celebrate the National Parks system turning 100 in August. The Brewery was recommended so we had to try it out! I got a Chicken Reuben with a side of Broccoli in Beer Cheese. I love the chicken version of the reuben because it was a lot lighter than normal and very tasty! The rest of my family split a pizza that was HUGE! All in all we enjoyed the good food.



Let me inform you on what we did next. We hiked about 2 miles of the Appalachian Trail. For those of you who don’t know what the Appalachian Trail is…it’s a 2,200 mile trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine. We got on the trail at the North Carolina and Tennessee border and saw some pretty views.


Heading back to Bryson City we saw some elk on the side of the road and lots of people stopping to take pictures! We also stopped in Cherokee and got a little sweet treat at Two Crows Ice Cream and Treatery. I got a scoop of Cappuccino Toffee Crunch and it was the perfect about of sweet with a little hint of coffee! My brother got a double scoop of the ‘Superman’, and my parents the Mint Chocolate Chip. I also snapped another picture of a painted bear that was in town because why not?


Before heading in to town to eat and watch the fireworks we came back to the house and rested up. I rolled my dirty clothes and took some Ibuprofen for my terrible headache that I had been battling all day. In other news, Kevin Durant signed with The Golden State Warriors and Kevin and I request that you respect our decision since we’re officially over.

We headed back into town for dinner. Wanting something quick we grabbed a meal from Bojangles. We parked in the grocery store parking lots and laid out blankets on the concrete. I’m sure we looked pretty funny. We played cards until the fireworks started and enjoyed the beautiful sunset as well.


Fireworks started around 9:55 and we stayed for about 20 minutes. We hightailed it out of there and not a complaint from me because I was exhausted! My favorite fireworks were the ones that were golden and looked like they were falling from the sky.


One day more! Much love, Brianna.

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Smoky Mountains: Day Six

This post was written about July 3rd, 2016. For those of you who are late to this party train (a.k.a. this series) check my previous posts out below.

Locations: Bryson City, NC -> Joyce Kilmer National Forest -> Tapoco, NC ->  Fontana, NC -> Bryson City, NC


Up and ready to go this morning I packed by camera backpack with all the essentials: my camera (obviously), 50mm lens, GoPro Hero Session, and my head strap mount for my GoPro. I’ll have to write a post soon about my soon to be YouTube channel with all my GoPro adventures (stay tuned for that!). I was feeling a bit patriotic this morning so I decided to make myself a parfait with: strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. The picture turned out great but I definitely do not recommend the Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt (it has a very bad aftertaste!).


We traveled today to Joyce Kilmer National Forest. It’s about an hour drive from Bryson City. Once we got there we struggled to find a parking space. Being pretty well advertised they had a small parking lot (just enough for about 25 cars). Usually hiking trailheads have outflow parking in case the parking lot is full. So we parked on the side of the road and hoped for the best. Before we made our trek we ate a snack (or first lunch). I had a Roasted Jalapeno Kind Bar with Goldfish…a weird combination for sure.

The Joyce Kilmer National Forest is known for is VERY tall trees. The hike was only 2 miles long but the forest was gorgeous. Most of the trees are over 400 years old and up to 100 feet tall and 20 feet in circumference. Talk about big! I couldn’t get over how small I felt against them and how many there were. The forest is named after the author Joyce Kilmer wrote a poem about trees. I think I’ll write a poem about skyscrapers and have one dedicated to me (no big deal).

Once we made it back to the car we set off to find lunch. I had felt perfectly alert and awake when hiking but once I sat down I could barely keep my eyes open! Thankfully we came upon the town of Tapoco where a lodge was located with a restaurant. The food was delicious and the lodge was peaceful and located next to running water. I got a 3 Cheese Grilled Cheese with Sweet Potato Fries (divine!), my Mom got the Fried BLT, my Dad the Trout Poboy, and as an appetizer Pork Rinds! I had never seen Pork Rinds sold at any restaurant before but they were good as they were topped with Tabasco Sauce.


As we were heading to our next location we drove on part of what is known as the “Dragons Tail”. The Dragon’s Tail is 11 miles with 318 curves! We saw many motorcycles while driving just the end part and it’s absolutely crazy how fast they go!

Before heading back to Bryson City we stopped to see the Fontana Dam. The Fontana Dam is the tallest dam east of the Rockies. The Fontana Dam construction began in 1942 when President Roosevelt implemented the ‘New Deal’. The Tennessee Valley Authority was one of the programs. The TVA brung jobs to the unemployed and helped create hydroelectricity. The Fontana Dam was finished in just 3 years with no days off. Today it would take at least 10 years to build compared to just 3. The Dam is 480 ft, 2,365 in length, 29 miles of reservoir, and supplies electricity to the surrounding areas. The Dam is also apart of the Appalachian Trail and is known as ‘Fontana Hilton’ because it provides hikers with hot showers.


Back home we dug into dinner which wasn’t too exciting. I had tortilla chips with humus and laughing cow cheese. For dessert we made Banana Pudding since my mom has been having a hankering for it ever since Day Three.


We relaxed and watched the sun go down below the mountains. Very tired we all peaced out and said goodbye to Day Six (sad face!!).


Stay tuned for 2 more days of my Smoky Mountain series! Much love, Brianna.

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Smoky Mountains: Day Five

This post was written about July 2nd, 2016. If just now reading this series check out my other days below.

Locations: Bryson City, NC -> Chimney Rock, NC -> Lake Lure, NC -> Asheville, NC -> Bryson City, NC


Well….we are more than halfway through this series (also known as my vacation). Mornings come to quick and nights go to fast when you’re wiped from the day before. However, I love the adventuring, food, and exercise.

This morning my body said “No thanks!” again. I powered through and made some coffee with my english muffin and half a banana. Sitting on the front porch with the cool breeze and view was absolutely perfect and it made me really not want to leave on Wednesday.


Another day of longer travel was in store. We journeyed to Chimney Rock State Park about 2 hours from Bryson City. The road up to the park was WAY to curvy and made me sick but once there I felt much, much better. Parking down in the lower parking lot a bus shuttled us to the top where we climbed 499 steps to get to Chimney Rock.


Usually, Chimney Rock as a fully working elevator but it was currently out of service so tickets into the park were reduced by a dollar (yes only a dollar…*insert eye roll here*) The 499 steps up weren’t excatly what I call enjoyable but the view was SO worth it. From there we hiked up to Exclamation Point which was another 381 steps. It’s the highest point in the park and definitely  the most breathtaking. I love how good and creative our God is.

Once at the top we took a break and then made the 880 step trek down. By the time we reached the bottom my legs felt so shaking and I was pretty sure they were going to buckle. Thankfully that did not happen. At the souvenir store I got a sticker that said “I made it to the top of Chimney Rock”. I for sure had to get that.


Lunch absolutely had to be next, because my stomach was growling like a monster. We ate at Medina’s Village Bistro. I got the special which was the BLT wrap with fried green tomatoes instead ofthe regular kind. A side of cauliflower salad came with it which had sprouts, chickpeas, balsamic vingear, and cauliflower. It was different but I enjoyed it! For dessert all four of us spilt a cinnamon rolls which was A++ (However, nothing can beat Harmony House cinnamon rolls).


On the way to the Bistro my mom had saw a place that sold homeade soda pops called: Bayou Billy. You had to buy a mug and then you filled it yourself. They had lots to choose from but I choose the ‘Pretty N Pink’ one and filled it with Strawberry Cream Soda and shared it with my mom. My dad got a cream soda float and my brother a rootbeer float.


Heading just a few minutes away to the town of Lake Lure we visited the Lake Lure Inn where the cast of Dirty Dancing stayed during their filming. Dirty Dancing is my favorite movie of all time and this was a must. Also; currently looking for someone to share my love of Dirty Dancing with. The pickpocket scence was filmed in the dining room and the famous lift scene practice was shot at Lake Lure.The mirrored room that they practiced in is now renovated into a event hall. Half of the film was filmed there and the other half in Virgina. I tried to recreate some poses from the movie but didn’t have such luck (as you see below).

 

Before heading out of Chimney Rock we stopped on the ‘flowering bridge’. They had some beautiful plants and lots of doors with plants on them. Lots of garden goals, and door goals. There was also a pretty mailbox that I wish I could take to have as my mailbox in the future. 



Back to Asheville we went! Having looked up The Omni Grove Inn we checked it out just for fun. It’s been around for a while and some notable people have stayed there. Such as: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Micheal Jordan, and Jerry Seinfield. This Inn was HUMONGOUS. They had a spa, 4 on site restaurants, shops, views looking out at the mountains, and a HUGE fireplace. Rooms start out at $350 a night and range to about $1,000 a night (crazy!!!)

Buxton Hall BBQ was for dinner. Buxton Hall used to be an old skating rink and was transformed into a restaurant. When sitting you can see the huge open kitchen and all the delicious food being prepared. I got the Grilled Buxton Romaine Salad which had jowl bacon, bluberries, pickled fennel, grilled romaine, and blue cheese dressing. Best salad ever! My mom and dad got the Whole Hog BBQ Plate and the meat I tried was perfect. My brother got the mussels since he’s vowed to try mussels any new place he goes.



Exhausted we made the trek back to our home. I caught up on my social media, did my devotional and turned the lights out!


Stay tuned for more of my series! Much love, Brianna.

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Smoky Mountains: Day Four

This post was written about July 1st, 2016. For those who are just now reading this series check out Smoky Mountains: Day One, Smoky Mountains: Day Two, and Smoky Mountains: Day Three.

Locations: Bryson City, NC

This post is brought to you by low wi-fi struggles, too much fried food, and lots of sweat.


I definitely did not want to get out of bed this morning. After staying up a bit too late my eyes and body said “No thanks!” I did however get out of bed or this post wouldn’t be happening. I brewed some coffee and stuck a cinnamon raisin bagel in the toaster. I topped it off with strawberry cream cheese and strawberries and bananas.


Entering into Bryson City we took the road to nowhere. Yes, you read that right…a road to nowhere. Before you get to the end of the road you come upon a long, dark, and graffiti tunnel. Upon entering I felt like we were in a scene of the Walking Dead. The one where there are zombies just looming in the dark waiting to snatch you up. I clung to my brother’s arm and took big breaths to make it through. I’m definitely not a person who likes the dark and what could be cloaked beneath it.


Walking uphill is not fun. Guess what I did today? Walked uphill then downhill then up some more than back down. Why in the world would I do that? It’s called hiking and you get to see some pretty cool stuff while hiking too. We went to Deep Creek Campgrounds where we hiked the Deep Creek trail. We saw three different waterfalls, a creek full with lots of people with tubes, and lots of horse poop. To get to the third waterfall we had to hike on the horse trail so that explains to poop.


Back into town we went drenched in sweat (at least I was). We ate at The Filling Station Deli where they are most known for their Cuban sandwich. My Mom and Dad got the Cuban and I got the special of the day: Hushpuppy Battered Fried Po-Boy. A heaping portion of fried shrimp served in a toasted hoagie with provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and coleslaw. It was pretty good but I definitely did not eat all of it.

Walking some more (because it’s just so fun!) we explored downtown. We went in a couple of shops and saw some of the restaurants but mainly we spent our time at the Visitor’s center. Browsing for some souvenir’s I found a Smoky Mountain t-shirt, and pretty cool looking mug. I used to have a tradition where I would get a snow globe when we visited somewhere. Now it’s mugs and t-shirts. This has helped make a huge t-shirt quilt and contributed to my at least 15 mugs collection. Up side: I won’t have to buy mugs when I move out of the house.



Ice Cream was next at Soda Pops Ice Cream Parlor. Their interior was everything Coco-Cola and made me want to jump in a time machine and go back to went Coke was just 10 cents a bottle. Peach Ice Cream in a waffle cone was for me (very refreshing!), chocolate for my brother, moose tracks with hot fudge for Dad, and toffee crunch for Mom. Not a complaint from anyone.


When driving to go hiking we saw many tube places nearby. With that in mind, we changed into our swimsuits and rented 4 tubes to tube down the creek. At first, I was ready to be done. Starting at the top of the creek where the water was more swift was not a good choice. Avoiding a big drop off we saw that someone was in a lot of pain sitting on a rock. They had either dislocated their shoulder or broken it when going down. Definitely did not feel very good after seeing that.


As we ventured on it turned out to be fun minus how cold the water was. They say it’s about 59 degrees and I agree (don’t ask me who they is). Tubing down the creek for me was like a very adventurous person white water rafting. So to make my point, I will never go white water rafting. I did enjoy it but swift water is not my thing (I wouldn’t think it’d be anyones thing).


Being wet and not looking presentable we drove to the far outside of Bryson City and ate at an Old Fashioned Drive-In called Na-Bers. I got fried chicken and a root beer float. Not a good combined choice but very good separately. I will be very surprised if I don’t gain 500 pounds on this trip.


Homeward  bound! I proceeded to read my daily devotional since my body wasn’t ready this morning. Another sunset was in store. 


Great day of adventuring and food.
Stay tuned for tomorrows Smoky Mountain post! Much love, Brianna.

 

Smoky Mountains: Day Three

This post was written about June 30th, 2016. If you’re just now tuning in to this series check out Smoky Mountains: Day One then Smoky Mountains: Day Two. 

Locations: Bryson City, NC -> Asheville, NC -> Bryson City, NC


Today was filled with laughter, a little tears on my part, and lots of walking. It was fueled by doughnuts, soup, and fried chicken because we’re in North Carolina and southern comfort food is a must. Let me dive right in and give you the details since you may be slightly confused.

My wake up time was a little leisure like this morning. I woke up around 8 and read a devotional through the app called ‘First 5‘. This app helps me start my first five minutes of the day diving into God’s word. The devotionals are simple and short, perfect for the morning. After getting ready I fueled myself with half an english muffin with half a kiwi. No, I am not someone who eats really small breakfasts but I was saving my hunger for something even more delicious.


Hitting the road our first stop was Holes in Asheville, NC. I found out about it through a Bon Appetit article. Holes is a doughnuts place where doughnuts are made to order. I got a Toasted Almond with Sesame Seeds and Cinnamon. I’m pretty sure that it was the best doughnut I’ve ever had. The sweetness mixed with saltines and the warmness made it heavenly. My Mom and Dad got the Rosemary Bourbon which I tried a bite of and it was divine. Outside they had a cute little truck with their logo on it which was obvious that I had to take a picture in front of it.


Let’s talk about houses. They can be small, medium, large, or extra-large. The Biltmore house was extra, extra, extra large. The Biltmore is the largest home in America and is still privately owned by fourth and fifth generations of the Vanderbilt family. Construction started in 1889 and was finally finished in 1895. There are 3 stories and basement as well. The vastness of it all is crazy.


When first arriving on the estate we choose to tour the gardens before it got blazing hot outside. The gardens were beautiful and huge (the Biltmore has 8,000 acres of land. That is one “HOLY COW”!) There are also over 2,000,000 types of plants throughout the estate. Some of my favorites were the different types of roses and succulents. I especially loved a plant they had that looked like little balls of white fluff.


We then ventured out to Bass Pond and also to see the Bass Pond waterfall. Being spoiled with spectacular waterfalls last year it was hard to awe us. It was quite and serene and cool which is my happy place.


Lunch sadly, was a letdown. At least what I got was. I tried the soup of the day at The Stable Cafe on the grounds. The Stable Cafe was a stable that was transformed into an eating place. Back to that soup, it was potato mixed with some indian spices. I’m not usually picky about my food but this wasn’t my favorite. However, my Mom got Turkey and Gouda Mac and Cheese and it was the best thing EVER. My Dad and Brother got the Bangers & Black Eyed Peas which was A++ as well.


Walking into the Biltmore house put me in awe. The hugeness and how much detail that was put into is crazy. There are over 200 rooms in the house and 33 bathrooms, which was rare during that time because usually bathrooms were located outside. There was a room for having afternoon tea, and music. A dining hall where 7 to 10 course meals were served. A library with two stories and I would say thousands of books. Rooms dedicated to different architects that contributed to the house. The basement where there was a pool, bowling alley, gym, a pastry kitchen, rotisserie kitchen, kitchen, and servants quarters. I’m still in awe of how HUGE and how pretty the interior was.


Funny story, after touring the inside of the house we took a shuttlebus to the Winery and Village that was about 5 miles away. We got some sparkling grape juice and some regular concord grape juice then we waited for the shuttle back. As soon as the shuttle arrived my dad asked if the shuttle went back to the Biltmore. The driver proceeded to say no, and that you needed to be a guest at the Village Inn to take the shuttle. So we then walked 5 miles back to our car. JUST KIDDING!!! The driver didn’t leave us poor souls stranded, he drove us to the parking lot AND we got to hear about how around Christmas time the employees and their families are invited to a party inside the house. All children under 11 get a present and meals and caroling is also included. We laughed off our slight mishap and headed for dinner.


Homegrown was for dinner. It featured local foods and some really good Fried Chicken a top of a biscuit with cheddar cheese and sausage gravy + a side of roasted beets. It was heavenly! I was also proud of this find because I read about it on the Bon Appetit article titled: “Best Places to Eat in Asheville, NC.”


Sunset watching happened again when we got back “home”. I’m blessed by how good God is.


Stay tuned for more on my Smoky Mountain series! Much love, Brianna.

 

 

Smoky Mountains: Day Two

This post was written about June 29th, 2016.


Locations: Murfreesboro, TN -> Smokey Mountain National Park -> Bryson City, NC

We had great intentions to start the day off bright and early since we lost an hour somewhere in Tennessee. The alarm blared at 6:15 A.M. (not P.M. sadly), and I was not ready for the rude awakening. Breakfast was bacon, potatoes, yogurt, toast, pineapple, and coffee. My coffee cup also understood my language because it’s cozy had a camera on it.


All good intentions aside we left around 9 with a pit-stop to Walmart and a couple of other pit-stops before we got to Smokey Mountain National Park. On the way there I worked my way through Instagram, and colored in my Enchanted Forest Coloring book. I am well aware that the picture I am coloring is fall like but I LOVE fall.


If you followed along last years series: New York you may know about how we got a free drink a Dunkin’ Donuts It was 4th of July and we wanted some warm drinks to accompany us to watch the fireworks. I ordered a latte and the guy who made it also recommended the vanilla chai tea latte. “I’ll have to try it sometime,” I said. He then gave me my latte and a free chai tea latte. My dad tried it and he was hooked. So naturally he wanted to make this a tradition and get one this year! We also got doughnut holes and a star doughnut that was SUPER DUPER sweet.


Our destination was Cade’s Cove in Smokey Mountain National Park. Cade’s Cove is actually a loop that is 11 miles long and it takes you around to see cabins and mills that were built there in the 1800’s. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and sadly we didn’t get to hike.



We stopped for lunch on the loop, sort of like a picnic lunch. We had tuna with salsa and chips. I also forgot to mention that the loop is one way so it takes a little way to make your way out if there’s traffic.


It was back to the road again for about 3 1/2 hours, and I spent most of it trying not to throw up because of how curvy the road was. We took a pit-stop at the Tennessee and North Carolina border to get some fresh air and snap a few pictures. Let me tell you, that cool air is nothing compared to Oklahoma’s hot breeze in the summer!


Before our final destination we passed through the town of Cherokee, NC. Cherokee is a town on the reservation home of the Eastern Band of Cherokees. I snapped a few pictures of some painted bears that were scattered throughout the town. I loved the bear with the eagle face and all the detail it showed.


Hallelujah might have been the words I spoke on the inside when we finally arrived in Bryson City. I was STARVING and we ate at Anthony’s where I got Bruschetta with prosciutto and everyone else got HUGE calzones that were shaped like footballs. One was Italian Sausage and the other was Spinach.


Before leaving to find our house we took some obligatory pictures in front of a railcar. For your viewing pleasure only.


Back up the mountain we went to get to our house. The inside decor was cute and I was especially fond of the fake moose mount. We then proceeded to watch the sunset and gawk at how wonderful our God really is.


Stay tuned to my series Smoky Mountains! Much love, Brianna