Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visiting National Parks is something that Chad and I have started to do a lot more often. When we need a vacation, but don’t want the huge hassle of flights or having to leave our pets behind, we pack up our car (or previously an RV) and make our way to a new National Park. This time when we were looking to do just that, we thought what better National Park to visit in the fall than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

I’ve always heard that the Great Smoky Mountains are beautiful in the fall, with fall foliage that dreams are made of, but no dream could have prepared me for the reality of colors that we saw. We drove so many auto trails with views of trees, mountains, rushing creeks, and plenty of furry friends. We hiked Laurel Falls, a walking trail that led to one of the biggest waterfalls I have seen to date. We camped at Element Campgrounds in freezing cold temperatures and all huddled around a fire pit staring at the stars.

Even Acey Cakes loved the Great Smoky Moutains! Despite the expression on his face, which looks a bit terrified, Ace loves being outside on his leash. The main reason we love doing road trips is because we get to bring our pets along. We love to share our adventures with them, because let’s be honest, pets are basically people too.

We were also lucky enough to have Trekology give us some of the best camping gear we’ve ever used. The chairs fold up into tiny space saving bags, and the rose gold folding table made eating by the fire so much easier. You better believe we will be putting this gear to use 10 times more once warmer camping season rolls around again.

I feel like the pictures do the park some justice, but if you ever have the chance to go to the Great Smoky Mountains in the fall, don’t think twice.

What’s your favorite National Park that you’ve ever visited? We need to figure out the next one to check off of our list!

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24 Hours in Nashville

Chad and I planned a camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains to take in all that fall has to offer. The mountains are about 11 hours from our door to the first view, so we looked at a map to see where we could stop along the way. Lucky for me, Nashville was right on our path out east, so we planned a one night stay in the country music capital of the world!

I’ve wanted to visit Nashville for a long time after all of the great things I’ve heard about the city, so a 24 hour teaser was just enough to make we want to go back ASAP. With 24 hours in Nashville, we ate REALLY well, spent some time with Mr. Johnny Cash, got our honkey tonk on, and got a teaser of the fall colors.

Our first stop was Whiskey Kitchen, where the whiskey is strong and the sweet potato fries are as good as they come. I obviously still found some champagne amongst the whiskey, and Chad was in whiskey paradise, sipping old fashioneds. We shared their appetizer WK Bourbon Poppers, which was popcorn chicken and sweet potato fries, and we devoured every last crumb.

Next, we met a friend of mine from high school for Mexican food and margs at Rosepepper. We went to high school together in Texas, so it was only fitting that we got our Mexican food fix together in Nashville too. The queso was delicious and the margs were flavorful and strong, and any meal is made better with good conversation.

We also hit some historical honkey tonk bars, Tootsies and Nudies, which obviously included listening to live music and admiring all of the memorabilia from performances past. There’s something about the history that town holds that’s pretty fascinating. Also, how are there so many talented people in one town?!

Speaking of talented people, I couldn’t leave town without saying hello to one of my favorites, Johnny Cash. The Johnny Cash Museum is right off Broadway downtown, and the number of Johnny Cash t-shirts I wanted to buy was out of control. I settled for some Johnny Cash playing cards and a postcard to frame, and just a lot of photos of his face.

The next morning we woke up and obviously had to find some good breakfast before we left town. We went to Puckett’s downtown, and any breakfast is made better with fried chicken! I got a breakfast platter which included fried chicken, a homemade biscuit and gravy, and obviously eggs and bacon. Chad got french toast that had peanut butter and bananas sandwiched in-between. We got mimosas and enjoyed our delicious food until we were stuffed.

To say it was a good 24 hours in Nashville would be an understatement. Chad and I talked about how we loved cities like Nashville, where the city has plenty to do but feels cozy and welcoming. We loved every second, and absolutely plan on coming back to stay longer next time. If you ever have the chance to pay a visit, definitely make it happen! Have you ever been to Nashville?

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Camping: Land Between the Lakes KY

When I got home from a work trip to New York, Chad had planned a fun weekend getaway for us. He picked me up from the airport, all packed up and ready to go, and we started heading to the surprise location. If you haven’t noticed, I am a huge lover and believer in getting a change of scenery as often as possible, so when Chad told me we were going somewhere new, I was more than excited. After about three hours in the car, I realized it really was somewhere new. Little did I know that we would be in the car for a few more hours, heading to KENTUCKY!

I have driven through Kentucky a few times, but I have never spent any extended period of time there. I was definitely missing out. We stayed in an area of Kentucky called “The Land Between the Lakes” and the name obviously indicates that we were surrounded by stunning lakes. There really is nothing more peaceful than watching a sunset over the lake, or spending your afternoon listening to the fall leaves start to fall while watching boats pass by. Let’s just say, Chad did good.

After spending our first night setting up our new Coleman tent, grilling out a campfire meal, and just enjoying our time, we woke up early the next morning for an awesome adventure. There is a reserve in the land between the lakes called the Elk & Bison Prairie, and for $5 you can drive around and see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. A few minutes into our drive, which had already been amazing because of the views, we pulled up on a huge herd of bison. Literally right on the side of the road. Getting their morning graze in. I was blown away. I started snapping photos left and right, but after a few obsessive moments of photo taking, I just sat there and stared at them. These creatures were huge, but graceful and cute.

 

We spent the rest of our morning grilling up some bacon, drinking a mimosa, watching people fish in the quiet lake, and thoroughly enjoying having absolutely nothing that we needed to be doing. We eventually decided to go on a short hike by our campsite, which was well worth the exertion of energy, because the top provided us with another stunning lake view. We soaked it in for a little bit and then made our way back down. We relaxed some more, picked up some local Mexican food, and enjoyed a sunny afternoon by the lake. Eventually we decided to pack up our gear and load up to head home, because our somewhat high maintenance dog got stung by a bee. After that, she was no longer a fan of the outdoors.

Regardless, you can guarantee that we will be going camping again very soon. If you need a peaceful getaway where you can remove yourself from all of the things that stress you out during the week, I highly recommend The Land Between the Lakes. If you don’t want to drive that far, just google campsites nearby. It is truly the best way to regroup from a long week. Breath in some fresh air. Get some good mental clarity. Just enjoy the company of those around you.

Big thanks to Jason Barnette from Southeastern Traveler for the suggestion!

Also, check out Part One of our Land Between the Lakes travel vlog! Click here!

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Seattle: What to see in Seattle!

I went to Seattle for work, but extended the trip so I could actually explore the city that I have been wanting to see for so long! Chad luckily got to come with me, so we had two whole days to explore, wander around, see the views and soak it all in.

There were more than enough activities to fill our days, but here are some of my favorite things.

What to see in Seattle:

  • Pike’s Place Market (duh.) – My grocery shopping will never be the same. The amount of fresh produce was stunning. Chad tasted a peach and couldn’t stop talking about it for the next 24 hours.
  • The Great Gum Wall – When you get past the gross factor of that much chewed gum, it’s pretty awesome to think how many people have stood in that exact spot, all contributing to the same thing. Even if that thing is just a wall full of chewed gum.
  • The Very First Starbucks – It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s worth seeing. Merely for the fact that while you’re there you realize that someone just opened a coffee shop. They opened a coffee shop that now has managed to be a household name across the world. It’s pretty cool to see where that all started.
  • A view of the city – I got a few amazing views of the Seattle skyline from afar, and between the buildings, the space needle, and Mt Rainer, it was one of my favorite cityscapes. We went on a sailboat, road the ferris wheel, and went to Kerry Park for our views. I recommend any and all of the above.
  • Get out on the water – We went whale watching, and although we only saw one whale, it was worth getting to see Seattle and the state from the water. The nature is so beautiful that I could have stayed on a boat all day long, but there was too much else to do. If you have time, definitely hop on your boat of choice.
  • Eat good food – The good food is in abundance. So much so that it warrants its’ own blog post, so stay tuned for all of the mouth watering foodie photos.

We could have done so much more if we had more time, but if you ever find yourself in Seattle, these are the things I recommend seeing. If you’re planning a trip, let me know if you have any questions on what to see in Seattle!

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