Witness and I recently traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains with our two friends M+S. It was definitely a fun trip, and one that I would be willing to make again, especially since it was a budget-friendly one! For two adults, the trip cost about $475 including the cabin, gas,
food, snacks, and souvenirs for our family back home.
Our Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains The drive took about 9.5 hours from Chicago, IL. Witness and S took turns driving, and the trip went by pretty quickly with games, snacks, and music. I had packed breakfast and lunch the night before, so we ate as we traveled. We left at 7:30am (about half an hour later than expected), so we arrived at the cabin office at 5:30pm. We didn’t realize there was a time change between the states, so if you’re making the drive from the midwest to the south, make sure you calculate it in.
Travel + Food There are roughly 589 miles between Chicago and the Smokies. Roundtrip, gas cost us a total of $83.55. Use this site to get calculations on your road trip. We took M+S’s cozy and gas-efficient Hyundai Elantra. We did have a little trouble packing everything into the trunk, but it was enough room for the four of us. If we had decided to bring another person or animal (like Cashew), a rented vehicle would have been the better decision.
We went shopping at Walmart and HMart for our groceries. The total cost for four days of meals and drinks was $216.33. If you want to save money, buying groceries and cooking is the way to go, even though it may be a bit of a hassle. It costus $13 a day to feed one person on the trip, and we ate like kings!
Cabin: “On Eagle’s Wings”
We decided to book the cabin in Tennessee through Jackson Mountain Homes. Our cabin was called “On Eagle’s Wings” and nestled within the the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN, the Gateway to the Smokies. The cabin had two decent sized bedrooms, both with king-sized beds. There were three full baths, a hot tub (yes!), an outdoor grill, two patios (with porch swing), an outdoor table set, pool table, kitchen utensils, (free) soap, movie room, fireplace and towels provided. Both couches could also turn into beds, so technically we could’ve had two more couples join us. The grand total for the four nights and three dayswas $462.85. We got one night free because we were visiting off season. Each couple paid $231.42; not a bad deal for a home away from home!
Ramsey Cascades After a filling dinner and some star gazing on the deck, we went to bed. The following day, we decided that my first hike ever would be an 4 mile hike up to Ramsey Cascades. According to nps.gov, “Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of the most spectacular. Water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings and collects in a small pool where numerous well-camouflaged salamanders can be found.”
I wouldn’t suggest young children or people too out of shape (like myself) to take the hike up, especially if it’s your first time. It was quite difficult, challenging, yet rewarding. I would suggest you bring snacks, lots of drinking water, and a nice pair of hiking boots. Every time we climbed a mile or so, we’d meet a few hikers coming down from the cascades. Each one would tell us, “It’s hard… but it’s worth it.” Take a look for yourself!
We also saw some wildlife on the trails. This deer caught us staring at its cute curiosity.
The following day we were all pretty sore. So, after taking some pain killers and allergy meds, we drove an hour to Cade’s Cove. Instead of walking trails, we decided we’d let the horses do it instead! We visited the Cade’s Cove Riding Stables. It was highly rated and an incredibly informative guided trail. The rate is $30 per person, and tip is appreciated!
After riding, we drove along the Scenic Drive, capturing gorgeous photos of the mountains plastered onto the backdrop of the beautiful blue sky. There was a lot of history regarding cabin life and the settlers who first made Cade’s Cove their home. We were also able to see a herd of grazing deer along the valley. Although we didn’t get to see any black bears, it was a beautiful and relaxing way to end our trip to the Smokies.
We had a great time at the Great Smoky Mountains with M+S. When you’re traveling, make sure you bring a spontaneous spirit, food + water, and great friends to make memories! Have you ever been to the Smokies? What did you do when you visited?
My name is Tabitha. I’m a twenty-five year old Korean-American girl who wants to accomplish a lot of things. I’m also a perfectionist – driven by fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of not being my best, and fear of uselessness. To say the least, it’s a crippling foundation to live by.
It’s a constant trend of steady self-conversation, “I need to know more. You need to know more, Tab. Be curious.” And it drives me nuts! It’s almost to the point where I’d have to pick up three more degrees to fully be “qualified” to do the things I want. So many things to do, and so little time on this earth. Where to start first?
Here are some things that I’ve noticed about others who live thriving and inspiring lives. And rather than being a “grown up,” I’m focusing more on those who’ve been owning the process of growing “up”:
Think: The smartest and most inspiring people think. You’d assume that’s obvious, but unfortunately, not many embark on the journey of this natural and easily accessible task. Think about what you want to accomplish for the day. Think about what you want for the month. Think about where you want to be in five years. Think about the problems in the world. Think about how you can be a solution to that problem. It’s bound to make you a more compassionate and well-rounded human being.
Write: Anything. Anytime. Anywhere. Write about the things you just thought about. Carrying around a journal or typing it into EverNote or Notes on your Apple iPhone can be the best way to get back to those brilliant musings you had over coffee. Maybe you’re a poet, and you don’t yet know it – until you start writing.
Meditate/Pray: Spiritual, religious, or non-religious, doesn’t matter. Everyone worships or loves something. Think about something positive. Send your family thoughts and good vibes. Meditation and prayer can lead you to a place of gratefulness, a place where true joy can consistently take root and thrive.
You’re a Life-Long Learner:
Reading the News: Know what’s going on in the world around you. Download BBC or CNN onto your phone or tablet. Check out New York Times. Subscribe to some magazines. Don’t let your only source of news be Facebook or Twitter. Do some real research, albeit biased; however, if you’ve got a good head on your shoulders, you’ll be able to tell right from wrong.
Read in General: TV, movie, and Netflix-binges of the latest “Jessica Jones” or “Master of None” can be entertaining at times, but don’t let the tube suck your soul dry. Read texts that have been around for centuries. Read biographies, fiction, nonfiction, and mystery thrillers. The library is your oyster of information and knowledge! Get a library card, or turn to the dark side and invest in an e-reader. Either way, reading is an investment in you, and Lord knows, you’re worth it.
You Listen and then Share:
Listen: My mother always told me I had two ears to listen and one mouth to share. (Probably because I’d say ridiculous things most of the time). Use mother’s ratio well. Oftentimes, people have a plethora of information and incredible anecdotes that’ll help you through life’s struggles. And sometimes, people just need someone to listen. If you can be that bearer of burdens, please consider doing it. It’s rewarding to walk together in community towards growing up. You might even end up saving someone’s emotional, mental, or physical life.
Share: Don’t be greedy. There’s enough love to go around. Share the wealth of knowledge, resources, and most importantly, time with those who care about. Also, be very careful about what tone you use. Everyone is different, so sharing bluntly with one man is not going to work the same with a five-year-old girl. Research also shows that once you can teach it to someone else, you’ve truly gotten it for yourself. So go, share, and teach!
You Know When to Relax
Rest: God created 7 days in a week. We have weekends for a reason. Take some time off for church/communities, yourself, and your loved ones. You can’t be a whole person unless you allow for fill ups along the way. Life can be defeating, and when you’ve run dry, make sure to take time to breathe. If you happen to work on weekends, make sure to build in time to rest. You’re not a machine.
You Repeat the Process
Repeat the process of reflection, learning, conversing and sharing with others, and relaxing.
I hope that the observations and steps were simple and easy to follow. Thanks for joining me onpagetwo.