Our first full day in Gatlinburg was glorious. The weather couldn't have been better--clear blue skies, mid-sixties with a breeze, and pristine rivers running through the mountains. We started our day with the nature trail at the Inn, with a stop along the way to walk the labyrinth and admire the plantings in the nearby garden.
Further on down the trail is the pond, home to the mute swans Pen [sic] and Teller, a gift from the inn co-owner to her husband. They apparently love visitors, because they swam right to us and kept us company while we were there. At the base of the trail was a bridge that connected to a collection of artisan shops and galleries, Turtle Hollow. We detoured to visit the shops, which had just opened, and found some wonderful items, including a collection of individual wind chimes that captured Ken's interest (and one of which he received as an anniversary present!). Back on the trail we headed uphill on a steep incline, and determined that I was not quite up to the task of taking on a hike in the mountains, something we thought we would do. Building stamina for the next visit is on my to do list!
Instead of hiking we drove into the Greenbrier section of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which runs along the Little Pigeon River. I couldn't take my eyes off the crystal clear water tumbling over rocks and boulders, but almost equal in the "wow" department were the abundance of wild rhododendron. I think I wore Ken out with my exclamations: "Look at all this rhododendron! We have to come back when it's in bloom!!!"
After several hours of exploring Greenbrier and taking lots of pictures our hunger led us back to civilization. Following the map that is dedicated to the arts community we found a great cafe called The Wind Walker. Everything is homemade, from bread, to soup to desserts. We sat outside and listened to a duo who sang and played guitar and banjo. Great mountain music and wonderful food. We then ventured through some shops before heading back to the inn.
The Inn was full for dinner, so we enjoyed a happy hour on the side porch before setting out to eat at a local restaurant that proved to be a disappointment. That let-down notwithstanding, it was a fabulous day, and full of great memories.