When I was in one of my International Business classes in college, on the first day we shared a little bit about ourselves. Looking back, I have no idea what I shared, but I remember a girl across the room sharing that her dream was to live in Gatlinburg, TN.
I’d never heard of this place before, so I looked it up online. The images showed a town set between two mountains. I saw pictures of how it looked in the fall, and after browsing through those photos, I now had a dream too. While I didn’t want to live in Gatlinburg like my classmate, I did want to visit when the leaves were changing colors and the air was crisp. Fast forward about 6 years later and that dream became reality.
Two summers ago while driving in the car on the way home from Ocean City, Maryland I decided that I wanted to take a vacation alone. We were driving by a hotel and this thought just came into my mind. I’d never before even thought about traveling alone and it really didn’t sound that fun. Driving alone, eating alone, adventuring alone – man, did I really want to do that?
I let a year or so go by until I considered the idea of vacationing alone again. I decided that in 2017 I’d commit and do it. So a few months ago around March, I decided that I would bite the bullet and book a place on Airbnb in a location I could drive to. And that’s when the town of Gatlinburg slid back into my mind.
I remember looking at places on Airbnb and immediately eliminating them if they didn’t have a mountain view with a balcony or a deck. Maybe that was too picky of me but I knew that if I was going to be driving solo 9 hours to the Smoky Mountains, the view I had everyday was going to be worth it. So I culled through a variety of options – cabins, single family homes, apartments, condos until I settled on the one I’m typing to you from now.
It’s a condo on the top of The Summit of Gatlinburg. The drive up here makes me nervous every time. It’s like TN doesn’t believe in guardrails. They just put roads on the side of mountains, a few inches from the steep slope down and trust you to be careful. It takes about 15 minutes to drive the two climbing miles to the summit, but the view is absolutely worth the climb (and the heart palpitations). It’s exactly what I envisioned for my first solo trip and looking back. A peaceful mountain top view from the deck and a place where I can reenergize and enjoy a few days alone.