Tag Archives: Gatlinburg Tennessee

Gatlinburg Quickie

025We carved a few days from the front end of our planned Nashville visit to attend to some cabin business. Let me catch you up.

You see, we had a fire at our cabin a couple of months ago involving the washer/dryer unit. It was a relatively small fire, as these things go, but a fire event nonetheless. Our cabin guests at the time attempted to extinguish it, unsuccessfully, and called the fire department. Thankfully no one was injured, and the actual fire damage was limited to the washer/dryer unit and part of the laundry closet. The smoke damage, however, was considerably more extensive. Our property management company quickly mobilized a mitigation company and we immediately engaged our insurance company. However the restoration process has gone less expeditiously than we had hoped.

So, we felt an in-person visit was needed, to get our arms around where – exactly – we are in the process and help move things along.  We had a productive two days, meeting with contractors, inventorying contents and assessing overall progress. It was sad to see our beloved cabin in disarray, but I’m confident that it will be fully repaired and re-assembled more beautifully than ever.

The trip wasn’t entirely business though. We managed to take a short motorcycle ride through the park one day and completed one of our favorite hikes (to Charlie’s Bunion) on the other. It was such a beautiful day, we just HAD to get out on the trail! We had  gloriously clear visibility at the Bunion and even encountered an adolescent bear on the trail!

After our brief visit, we moved on to Nashville – music city! More on that in our next posts.

Campground Review: Smoky Bear Campground, Gatlinburg, TN

017Campground Review Summary

  • Name: Smoky Bear Campground & RV Park
  • Dates of stay: August 27-29, 2019
  • Location: 4857 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN
  • Type of campground: Private / Independent
  • Cost: $60/night
  • Additional fees: none
  • Stay limit: no
  • Accepts mail / packages: did not ask
  • Cell reception: AT&T good
  • Website: http://www.smokybearcampground.com
  • Pros: great location, nice amenities
  • Cons: cost, not satellite friendly

Full Review

We made a last-minute short-term booking here to take care of some business in Gatlinburg (we own a cabin here). Approaching the Labor Day holiday weekend, availability was very limited, but we were able to squeeze out 3 days here.

It is an older campground, but there are a few sites that are big-rig capable. Maneuvering the one-way one-lane road is do-able with care. Our site was a pull-through concrete site that was solid, but surprisingly unlevel (2% grade side to side). It has been surprisingly difficult lately to find a truly level site! We managed for a short stay.

The full hookups worked great – 30/50 amp electric, water and sewer. Due to trees, none of the sites are satellite-friendly. We did pick up a limited selection of over the air channels and the campground said they provide basic cable, but we didn’t try it. The free wifi, was quite decent. The site also provided a picnic table and fire ring. The sites have typical commercial campground spacing – not a ton of space, but it’s acceptable to us.

The campground has a nice, if small, pool and a hot tub! The bath house is modern and all of the amenities are squeaky clean. The campground even comes with a friendly campground kitty cat.

The location is great if you stay here on vacation. It’s about 25 minutes to downtown Gatlinburg and all of the attractions and amenities. Cosby is in the other direction, and our favorite restaurant (Apple Barn Restaurant and Farmer’s market barn) is about 15 minutes in the other direction.  It’s a bit pricey by our standards, but typical for the area. They don’t do weekly/monthly rates, only daily rates. Due to the area’s popularity, they can get it.

Bottom Line: A bit pricey, but a nice campground in a great area.

Springtime in the Smokys

008I’ve been very quiet lately – enjoying our time in our wonderful cabin. We spent the entire month of April “living large” in what feels now to be a three-bedroom mansion!  Pumpkin particularly enjoyed having all of the extra room, 2 sets of stairs, and a loft where he could lounge out of sight while still keeping an eye on all of the comings and goings.

It’s been many years since I stayed in one place to watch the Spring season arrive. In South Florida, seasons change with gradual and subtle variations in temperature and humidity, with none of the weather drama that I knew as a child in Indiana. When we arrived in Gatlinburg at the end of March, trees had barely begun to leaf and nighttime temperatures still dropped below freezing, decorating the mountain tops in white frosting. During our stay we watched the dogwoods and apple trees bloom and fade, and the countryside transition from bare trees to full-on, bright green foliage. It was spectacular!

I also forgot just how dynamic the Spring weather can be. Temperatures fluctuated from cold to hot from day to day, punctuated by wild weather. We experienced high wind conditions, torrential rains, severe thunderstorms, even tornados in the area. Welcome to Spring in the southeast! But in between the periods of interesting weather, we had some absolutely beautiful days with clear air that provided pristine views of the surrounding mountains. I love it!

Our cabin time has always offered opportunities to gather with friends and family, and this trip was no exception. Taking full advantage of our extra sleeping space, we hosted guests every weekend, including friends from Kentucky and nearby Knoxville, and my sister and parents from Indiana. Sean and Marissa made it up one weekend in conjunction with a Greensboro apartment scouting trip. We even managed to meet up with visiting South Florida friends for dinner on our last night in town. It was a wonderful time with friends and family.

We hadn’t been to our cabin for 2 years, and immediately noted things that needed doin’.  As usual, we spent time doing minor repairs and replacing missing or broken items. Staying longer than usual meant that we had the bandwidth to address some needed upgrade items including new drapes, new couches, new mattresses, and new kitchen countertops (upgrading to quartz). The pool table is getting a makeover. Some of the items were completed during our stay while others are getting done this week – we won’t get to see the results until our next trip!

In between guests and upgrades, we spent time doing our usual things – riding the motorcycle, hiking, visiting downtown Gatlinburg, shopping, and just hanging out in the cabin, enjoying the view. The month passed SO quickly!

We are now on our trek northward, continuing our Midwest loop.


Home Sweet Cabin

008Our first stop on our 2019 Midwest tour is our own home – our log cabin in the mountains. It’s a wonderful change of pace to be in an actual house for a while! I’d nearly forgotten what it’s like to have so much space, and fabulous amenities like a dishwasher! I can wash clothes and bathe without having to consider holding tanks. It’s nice to have our own private hot tub and pool table again. We will definitely enjoy our time here at one of our favorite places.

I remember visiting the Smoky Mountains when I was a little girl – riding up the Gatlinburg chairlift with my dad. I was small enough that he kept a careful hand on me to prevent me from slipping down through the safety bar! When Jeff and I had our family, vacationing here just seemed like a natural choice. We loved it so much that we built this vacation rental log cabin and have spent many happy weeks here, in our other home.

And since the area is also within reach of many family and friends, it has been a gathering spot for shared vacations. In fact, our time in the cabin has usually been a revolving door for guests! This trip is no exception we expect to host friends from Tennessee and Kentucky this weekend, my sister and parents the next weekend, and our son and his girlfriend the following weekend! With three levels and three master bedrooms, there’s more than enough room for all.

Where is the bus, you ask? After searching, we found a rustic campground near Cosby, about a half hour away. The badly run-down campground was recently purchased by a new owner, who is hard at work improving it. He has his work cut out for him, and it’s not a place that I’d necessarily want to stay at. But they offered a large pull through full hook up gravel site for only $400/month. The bus is safely parked, plugged into electric, which will maintain our house batteries during our stay in the cabin.

We had a few days on our own before the guests start rolling in, so we did as we customarily do – work on the cabin to fix and replace items. Most maintenance items are handled by Jackson Mountain Homes (our property management company), but there are always little things that need fixin’. Like, broken hooks by the hot tub, loose pool cue rack, jiggly door handles, and areas that need touch up paint.

I took inventory to determine what needs to be replaced since our last visit over 2 years ago. I always expect that glasses and cups will need to be resupplied – you expect things like that to break over time. And games and puzzles in the downstairs game room usually have broken/lost parts and need to be replaced. That’s just normal wear and tear. Also equipment like cookie sheets generally get thrown out by the cleaning service once they get yucky (people don’t clean dishes well in a rental!) But, I don’t expect that 2/3 of our DVD library will be gone, or that half the silverware will be missing. What do people do – eat them? The cutting boards, can opener, and good corkscrew are missing in action. Almost all of my book library is gone. Our first (completed) cabin guest book is still here but the second one – the “in progress” one – is nowhere to be found. That’s disappointing because I’ve always loved reading the kind notes that guests leave. However, in this era of Yelp and TripAdvisor, maybe guest books are just passé.

It is mildly distressing to think that people abscond with the amenities here, such as the DVDs. It’s not like we spend a lot of money on them (we raid the $5 bin at WalMart). It’s just that I wouldn’t take anything that wasn’t mine, and it bothers me a bit that others do. I’m not naïve, I expect that anything we leave out here could potentially sprout legs and walk away, but I like to think that people who stay in our home are better than that.   Well, enough of the pity party. A trip to WalMart fixes all – just the cost of doing business.

We will be here a whole month! We’ll enjoy the beautiful mountains and time with family and friends.

Life is good.