If you were to ask me the question: If you could move anywhere in the United States, where would you go? I could answer you without a doubt… TENNESSEE! I went for the first time some years ago and from that moment on, I fell in love with the state. The mountains. The fresh air. Everything about it is amazing. On this particular trip we stayed in Kentucky as well and it’s equally as beautiful and definitely a runner-up but it doesn’t beat about New Hampshire. That’s my 2nd favorite state (that I have been to, that is. I have been to 20 states so far.)
I blogged about this awhile ago that we meet up with a group of our very best friends for what we call, The Gathering. Every couple of years we rent a cabin, or a beach house and we spend 4 wonderful days hanging out, talking, eating, and enjoying each other’s company. This year’s gathering was no different, except we were missing some of our favorite people but we still had a fantastic time.
This year we decided to split the drive down into two days. (We added time onto the trip by doing this but it was worth it!) This allowed us to not be rushed to get there and we weren’t so tired when we arrived. Since none of us had been to Kentucky before, that’s where we decided to stay overnight and explore the next day (check-in at the cabin wasn’t until 4pm, so we had lots of time to do things and make the 1.5 hour drive).
We stayed at a State Park Resort and it was absolutely lovely! We had never stayed in a resort like this and it was a terrific experience! The room was nice, the staff and food were great and if I am being honest, it sort of made me feel like we staying at Kellerman’s Resort from Dirty Dancing. Which of course looks NOTHING like this and yet it still gave that vibe. I think it was the outdoor walkways and white trim and the longness (yes, I just made that word up) of the building. Minus all the people and activity, it felt like it to me.
So let me start off by saying this… I am a picky eater. Like super duper picky and trying new things for me is hard. On our trip down, we started talking about how Buffalo is known for our chicken wings and Philadelphia has cheese steaks and so on and so on. So what was Kentucky known for and what should we try eating. After a google search we found a meal called “Hot Brown” and while the name is weird, it sounded delicious! We decided that we should try and find it while we were visiting.
It didn’t take long…
The restaurant at the resort had it on the menu (and apparently it’s quite popular, duh) and I decided to give it a try. What’s not to love about turkey, cheese, more cheese and bacon? With bread and a tomato too? Really, this was one of the best meals that I have ever had! I have even thought about finding a recipe and making it at home.
We were so tired when we arrived at the resort that we didn’t really do much that evening. Michael and I tried going for a walk but easily tired out (in all fairness we did just drive 12 hours!), so we watched the sunset from our balcony and went to bed early. The next day, however…
We had hours to ourselves before heading into Tennessee and meeting up with our friends. Our first adventure was going on a hike – now it wasn’t the longest, nor the hardest (or so we had thought!). The trail that we were taking was called Chained Rock (on Pine Mountain) and at the top there is actually; you guessed it; a rock. With a chain around it.
The story goes… many years ago the people were afraid that this gigantic rock sitting on top of the mountain would fall and since it’s so large, it would take out the town below. So they fashioned this chain to hold it in place and that’s how it’s been ever since.
This sounded like something we should see, so we made the 1 mile trek up on the mountain trail. The view from up there was spectacular and I am glad we had the time to make the climb.
This is my favorite picture from the entire trip and it was taken on our first full day of the vacation. I have it framed on my desk at work and it makes me smile every time I look at it. This was such a great vacation to begin with but starting off with a climb and view like this just made it even more amazing.
We had time to do one more adventure before heading to the Gathering, so we stopped at Cumberland Falls. It’s considered be “The Niagara Falls of the South” and naturally since we live minutes from the real Niagara Falls, we needed to check this out to compare. It was… ok. Obviously, it’s a horseshoe falls but that’s really where the similarities end. It was a nice waterfall, don’t get me wrong but when the real-deal is sitting in your backyard, it’s never going to measure up.
There were SO many people there and it was incredibly hot, so we didn’t stay for very long but it was a neat place to visit and experience together.
Well here we are all! The Gathering has been happening for many, many years and sometimes we have more people attend (and sometimes less – just depends on the year and what’s going on with everyone). This trip was fairly small but it was still wonderful to see everyone and hang out.
Since there are so many people and the cabin is bustling with activity, it’s difficult to get pictures of the inside but I did manage to snap a couple. I somehow forgot to take one from the front of the cabin though. It was so beautiful inside and spacious for us to to be in groups and still have space to ourselves for a little quiet time. (It gets very loud sometimes!)
Watching the sunset from our balcony was amazing and it just kept getting better and better as the evening went on. We tend to only venture out and do a few things together and mostly just stay at the cabin, eat, and drink. We went out for a river walk with almost all of us and I am sure everyone wanted to push me into the river. (I whined a lot about the heat – hahahaha!)
We had a special bunch of tour guides leading us along the pathway and they made sure we didn’t get lost.
A group of us drove into Gatlinburg to visit Ripley’s Aquarium for the afternoon of our 3rd day. This was an incredibly busy and yet wonderful aquarium! There were so many unique fish and creatures there.
There are so many other things that I could mention… games of playing pool, swimming, card games, joking and picking on each other, catching up, stories, and the best of all… hugs! We’re a close bunch of a friends and we all try to get together throughout the year as much as we can. Some years it’s more than others but we definitely look forward to The Gathering every 2 years.
I took SO many pictures but I just kept it to a minimum for the post but I am sure I will share more as time goes on.