Yesterday, Mike and I returned from our FIRST EVER vacation together. (I suppose it is our second if you count our honeymoon, over two years ago.) We drove five hours to Gatlinburg, TN and stayed in a private chalet, complete with a hot tub on the back deck, called “A Lover’s Paradise.” Gatlinburg itself is an absolute tourist trap, but it is the gateway city into the Smoky Mountains National Park, which I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.
I often derided the east coast’s “mountains” and hardwood forests. The mountains are mere hills compared to the west’s skyscraping escarpments and any forest that is completely naked in the winter must be inferior to evergreen cover. I still hesitate to call the local mountains as such, but I’ve gained an appreciation for the hardwood forest in the autumn. The colors were absolutely amazing. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the firey hillsides. Again and again, I was stopped short by the deep crimson, bright orange, and brilliant yellow leaves set against an azure sky.
Even more incredible than the colors were the smells. The woods air was sweet with fallen leaves. The bouquet varied as we changed elevations, but remained intoxicating. I nearly made myself dizzy by breathing deeply, trying to capture the fragrance. Even just a few yards from the crowded parkway, the air was fresh, pure, and sweet.
To and from Gatlinburg, we listened to The Stolen Child on CD. The wild tale of faeries in the woods proved to be the perfect accompaniment to our trip. We spotted a hollow tree and took photos of each of us in our best hobgoblin pose. On the drive home, the recent memories of the dappled, fragrant woods supplied our imaginations a background for the tale.
As is usually true with vacations, it was over far too soon. Between work, rehearsals, school, planting, and interviews, we were only able to slip away for three days. We can’t wait to vacation again.
View our Gatlinburg Photo Set