Labor Day Weekend Getaway in the Great Smokies

Disclosure: I had just wiped out in front of about 20 people when this photograph was taken. Have you ever seen anyone who looks this happy after they've just fallen flat on their a$$? Neither have I. That's the magic of the Great Smoky Mountains. But let's start from the beginning....

Why the Great Smokies?

James and I hadn't originally planned to go to the mountains. Like the rest of the traveling populace, we had planned a beach vacation, specifically to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. But the world had other plans in store for us. I'm looking at you, Hermine. 

Torrential downpour and 80 mph winds didn't seem like the best way to introduce James to the majestic beaches of North Carolina. The night before we were supposed to head to Ocracoke Island, we got an email notification that the island was being evacuated, and no visitors would be allowed. So, I had to do something that James is great at but I'm terrible at: I had to be flexible and spontaneous. At 10:00 p.m., I was frantically searching the internet for vacancies in an attempt to salvage our "holiday" that I'd taken off work for. I knew we needed to go in the opposite direction from the storm, so I began searching westward, when I randomly stumbled upon a vacancy at Creekwalk Inn, a small bed and breakfast in Cosby, TN. It turned out to be one of the best split-second decisions I've ever made. 

Creekwalk Inn

First and foremost, we did the best we could, but the pictures simply don't do this place justice. I'd been to the Great Smokies several times before, but this was a whole new experience. This is as "authentic" as it gets in terms of mountain living. For example, the property owners have horses grazing freely throughout the farm, so in order to get in, you actually have to open and shut the gate!

This was the check-in cabin, and is also where the owners actually live. 

The maximum capacity here is twenty-two people. Each room is authentically decorated. The main lodge has seven rooms, and then there are several free-standing cabins for rent as well. We lucked out and got one of those, which had its own hot tub. Walking into these rooms was like being on the set of a film. 

Our cabin

You were also allowed to build a fire if you wanted. Since James and I are both pyromaniacs, we took full advantage of this privilege every single day. 

Creekwalk Inn Proper: The Main Lodge

This was my favorite building on the grounds. This is where breakfast is served every morning, and it's full of beautifully decorated rooms with endless things to look at. I think I saw something new every day. Janice, the owner, probably thought we were a little creepy with all the photos we were taking of the interior, but we couldn't help ourselves. 

Speaking of Janice: Janice Haynes, the owner/operator of Creekwalk Inn, is without a doubt the heart and soul of the place. She went above and beyond to make sure we had an absolutely wonderful stay. Did I mention she is an amazing cook? She didn't make breakfasts for us. She made feasts. I'm pretty sure I put on about ten pounds this weekend. 

As soon as we arrived, Janice, upon learning that James is English, insisted on making him a cup of tea, which happened to be the first he's had since leaving the U.K.! 

Also, James made friends with Janice's dog, Tycho, who hung out with us a lot over the weekend!

Creekside Inn: The Food

I don't think I need to say much here, because the pictures speak for themselves. Suffice it to say that we ate enough breakfast every morning to last us until dinner!

What We Did: Day 1

We decided straight away that we didn't want to do a lot of Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge stuff. We came to the mountains to get away from the madness, after all! On the first day, we set off for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in search of the famous "Midnight Hole" Janice had told us about. 

Just the entrance area to the park was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. Seriously, everyone should come here at least once in their life. There's just nothing else like it. Every ten steps is a new photo op. 

This picture really speaks to my ability to multi-task. I took this picture, while at the same time having a heart-attack because I didn't want James to fall. As I was listening to his photography instructions, I was also working out how I was going to explain to his family back in England that he had somehow managed a traumatic head injury during our weekend getaway. Luckily, he ended up not falling, so I didn't have to think about it anymore. As we later found out, James wasn't the "fall-er" out of the two of us. 

After a 1.5 mile hike, we made it to Midnight Hole, a natural swimming hole. Lots of  people were wading, jumping into the water from high rocks, and sunning themselves on the shoals. Even toddlers were bouncing around on the rocks. All I can say is that they must have all had webbed feet with suctions on the bottom, because the rocks were very slippery. I know this because I slipped on them, just walking in 3 inches of water, and fell all the way down, into the freezing cold water in front of dozens of onlookers. Miraculously, I was not injured. 

The last stop on the hiking tour was Mouse Ear Falls, pictured here. It's beautiful, but after the shenanigans at Midnight Hole, it was a little anticlimactic. I think we spend about 4 seconds here. The hot tub and campfire were calling our names.

What we did: Day 2

On our second day, we decided to go to Cades Cove, because James really really REALLY wanted to see a bear. From the second I mentioned that black bears are all over the Great Smokies on the way in the car, he was on a mission to see one in the wild. Cades Cove is a great place to go if you want to be active or lazy, because you can drive your car through a scenic 11-mile loop, or you can bike it, or you can hike any of the numerous other hiking trails there. We went for the lazy option. 

I sat on my sunglasses and broke them after getting out of the car for this shot. 

This sign did not deter James, who was determined to see a bear. 

We did end up seeing a bear, and it's on video, but very hard to see if you don't know what you're looking for. However, James was satisfied with that, so we then retired back to Creekwalk. 

Saying Goodbye

Our last morning before leaving, the horses wandered extra close to us, and James did a "horse selfie." James is now a horse whisperer.

Janice took a picture of us on the "magic carpet" before we left. 

If you've never been to the Great Smoky Mountains, add it to your bucket list. You won't regret it. If you are looking for an amazing "authentic" mountain retreat, we highly recommend Creekwalk Inn. There are tons of amazing parts of it that I haven't even shown here because this post is already too long with too many photos. It's very reasonably priced, and close to all of the attractions in the area without being in the middle of the madness that is Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We can't wait to go back!

As always, thanks for reading!

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