By Day Three, my morning ritual of waking up to a rooster distantly crowing (I must say, much more pleasant than an alarm clock) and getting the coffee started was firmly in play. My cold still lingered, but the medicine that we picked up on our way back from Newfound Gap was working well, and I was looking forward to a relaxing day in the “big” city.
If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg, it is a real treat. For those of you readers familiar with Branson, Missouri, it is sort of like that, on steroids, in the mountains…. As much as I thought I might scoff at this town (due to its unabashed pandering to the wallets of travelers), I actually really enjoyed it.
Some typical Gatlinburg architecture:
Before coming to Tennessee, I had envisioned a day of relaxingly strolling along the Gatlinburg Riverwalk. Not sure what my expectations were there, but that would have gotten old fast. Don’t get me wrong, the riverwalk is pretty and quaint (though the river is more like a stream- could be different in the Spring); it’s just that, in the shadow of the main boulevard, you’d have to maintain a pretty strong focus on the bubbling brook to ignore the main attraction. The riverwalk is probably more of a 2nd day activity, or an after dinner one.
Here’s an image of the riverwalk with Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies looming in the background:
Speaking of the Aquarium, it is incredible.
After spending all day strolling the streets and at the Aquarium, we had just enough time to scurry back up the mountain to the “Top of Old Smoky”, Clingman’s Dome. This is the tallest mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the third tallest in the Eastern United States. At the summit, there is a wonderful 360 degree observatory, which we had at sunset (the images that lead into each day of these posts). Incredible!