What an amazing trip!
The hubs and I had been planning this trip for quite some time. On Saturday morning we woke up early and packed up the car, heading out on a nine hour drive through Virginia to Tennessee. Now that it is behind me, let me just say – nine hours in a car (two times in three days) at 31 weeks pregnant – not fun (and then throw in a cold on top of it). I got sucker-punched by a cold that cropped up on Friday night when I was finishing up with work. By Saturday I was feeling crummy, Sunday I held it together through the big event and then Monday melted into a mushy, runny mess of a cold – miserable! Now it is Wednesday and I am drying up a bit, but still feel the grip of this head cold. I think it is a result of the flu shot from last Monday and fatigue that caught up to me. – But enough about that!
The drive was beautiful, it was rainy and cold in the morning, but it cleared up by noon. We stopped for a picnic lunch south of Lexington. I had the forethought to make sandwiches and pack up some other treats – which hopefully saved us a little money. On our way, we passed by the Ball canning factory (I wish I had known about it before, I would have loved to take a tour of how they make the jars!). The Ball factory was right next door to Bush’s (of baked bean fame), it’s funny the things we get a kick out of! We arrived at the B&B just before 8pm. The innkeepers were delightful and friendly. After putting our bags down and freshening up we headed out to a BBQ joint just up the road that we had passed on our way into town. There was live music playing in the dining room – a silly hodge-podge of a country/bluegrass band with five musicians. We later found out that the lead singer was also the owner of the BBQ place – it was fun to watch as he walked around talking to everyone – hosting his guests. The servers were very friendly. The hubs asked the waitress if they had beer and her reply was “ROOT-beer”, it turns out we were resting in a dry county. We split a plate of ribs and pulled pork with a whole bunch of side. Delicious! We even had a piece of chocolate cake for dessert. We couldn’t believe our luck at how good the food was and super reasonably priced $25 for both of us. We left the girl a fat tip – we couldn’t resist – judging by the rest of the clientele those gals probably only make a buck per person on average. Afterwards, we settled into the B&B – me, in the bath, and the hubs with the TV remote, two happier clams you couldn’t have found!
The next morning we were up early for breakfast, a simple affair, but tasty. We headed out to drive through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, I really wanted to see the sights. We stopped in at the Sugarlands Visitor Center which has an informative museum display about the local flora and fauna. I think we spent an hour there reading over all the different plants, mushrooms and stuffed animals they had there. I wish we had had more time take a short hiking loop, but we needed to grab lunch before getting ready to head out for the dinner.
For lunch we went to a place called the Old Mill. This restaurant was inside an old mill and was serving up local country fare. I couldn’t resist some chicken and dumplings, the same way the hubs was dying for some country fried steak. Another deal at $10 per person, the entrees came with soup, hush puppies, green beans and mashed potatoes. Once again we found ourselves quite full on a budget.
The dinner at Blackberry Farm was starting a 3pm, so we got ourselves together and headed out around 2pm for the hour long drive out there. We weren’t sure what to expect when we got there, but I think we were both surprised by how unassuming this amazing Relais & Chateau luxury resort property makes itself on the outside. Surrounded by white farm fencing, there are no signs, if you want to find this place, you have to know where you’re going. We made our way to the parking area and walked to where they were still setting up the table. Let me tell you – the setting was idyllic! One long table in the garden. You could see the workers moving around setting the table, some of the chefs were tending to the roasting lamb and others were already serving canapes to the guests who had arrived.