5 Good Things to Pack for your Smokies Vacation

After making your reservation for your Smoky Mountains cabin rental, the packing process begins. Here are a few specific items that you should consider for your comfort and convenience.

1. Bug Repellent-It has been a wet summer season here this year, and the insect population has flourished along with the beautiful plant foliage in our area. There’s no reason to be miserable with itchy bites or buzzing annoyances, when they can be prevented. While enjoying the outdoors, plan for a quick spray of repellent along with your sunscreen, and for an omission of perfumes and fragrant lotions that may attract unwanted flying suitors.

2. Allergy Medications-Our verdant, blooming countryside also actively provokes hay fever type allergies and those allergic to bees, who are attracted to flowers. Be prepared so you won’t be inadvertently sidelined with any allergic distractions.

3. Portable Power Strip-Since today’s entertainment and communication requires multiple electronic devices per family, a multi-plug power strip can centrally locate all recharging needs in a single spot. This also avoids small items and their cords being left behind in a hidden corner outlet.

4. Crockpot Slowcooker-Assuming you will utilize the cabin’s kitchen to enjoy family meal favorites, it is a wonderful moment to arrive back to a fragrant, ready-to-eat meal in a cozy cabin after a long, hard day of tourist activities. Alternatively, prepare overnight and awake to breakfast ready for a crowd.

5. Sevier County map-Whether looking for a specific road, or planning a trail hike, GPS systems quickly go “off the grid” in our mountainous region. There are multiple areas in the county that are unmapped or not updated recently to many GPS systems. So, print out specifics before leaving home, or pick up a map when you reach town.
Google map of Sevier County.

Our beautiful corner of the world can be secluded and peaceful, but there are many retail locations for all of your basic needs. Discounters Walmart and Kmart, and drugstores Walgreens and CVS, along with independent pharmacies are all available. Grocery stores Kroger and Food City (a regional chain) also have multiple locations for your convenience. So don’t sweat regarding a search for any items you may still need when you arrive.

We look forward to seeing you (and all your luggage) here at Volunteer Cabin Rentals. Please come stay with us soon!

Roll the Car Windows Down and Take Your Time

One of my favorite relaxing sounds to enjoy is rushing river water. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a must-do auto tour in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a simple, inexpensive way to truly experience the unique joys of the Smoky Mountains. Take a winding journey of 6 miles (one-way road) through forest, along rushing streams, past historic buildings. Cabin homesteads, overlooks, and waterfall hiking trailheads all are available at numerous stops along this picturesque drive.

Make sure to stop and purchase the Nature Trail self-guide booklet ($1 donation), located in an honor box at the trail entrance. Notable stops are:
-the Noah Bud Ogle homestead, the Bales family farm, and the Reagan properties
-trailheads for Rainbow Falls (5.4 miles roundtrip moderate to difficult hike), Grotto Falls (3 miles roundtrip moderate hike), and Place of a Thousand Drips, a wet-weather waterfall at stop #15.

But there are so many moments to savor and explore to make this trip your own. The key is to take it slow, as much is missed with a hurried pace. Make a special effort to notice and absorb the details.

Stop to inspect a hardscrabble, former way of early living in these rugged mountains. Go for a cardio hike to one of the falls. Capture photographs of wildlife and play in the icy cold streams. Inhale the history and allure of the breathtaking nature around you. When you complete this tour, I promise you will feel you have “been on vacation”, if even for only a few moments.

Go early to be ahead of the high season summer crowd. Spend a good part of the day here: for family photo ops, for historical education, for romantic lingering, for explorer exercise, but seriously, just go! Later on, as you relax in your Gatlinburg luxury cabin rental, be thankful for all the modern conveniences surrounding you. Click back through those digital pictures to recall the rugged way of life that this area’s early settlers bravely endured to be surrounded by such beauty. My best suggestion? Visit again in another season; it’s also lovely in colorful autumn and blooming spring.

To access the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, turn at traffic light #8 in Gatlinburg and follow the Historic Nature Trail Road straight past Park Vista Hotel and Mynatt Park to the National Park entrance. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/roaringfork.htm

Which Theater Show is the Right Choice?

You will want to visit a theater show while on vacation in your Pigeon Forge rental cabin. But which one is right for your family, with something to entertain everyone? Consider Smoky Mountain Opry, an upscale, fast-paced variety show production to suit every taste.

The show opens with an expected delectable slice of Nashville: contemporary hits followed with a classic series of memorable tunes. Talented, seasoned musicians provide professional live music as the tunes evolve to a bit of Broadway, pop, and movie scores. The melodies turn from nostalgia to heart moving with some Gospel pieces, and end with a patriotic celebration.

The continual action is visually captivating, with dynamic stage sets and lighting, used artfully throughout the musical arrangements of skilled singers and dancers. Where else can you see flying fiddlers, silk aerial artists, and flaming pianos in a single sitting? Be transported from Nashville to London to Africa without moving from your seat? And the animals! From horses to serval cats and tigers, to the newest addition: a rare and regal white lion.

One highlight is the Circle of Life/Lion King set. Splendid tribal-costumed dancers recreate animals in their homeland, and the appearance of the majestic large felines makes this scene memorable. The theater also has planned to construct a habitat for these gorgeous creatures, so they will be well-maintained in a natural environment. Great care is taken to provide for the needs of these beautiful beasts.

Interspersed throughout the music is a wide variety of entertainment acts: talented character comedians, amazing physical feats from “Slim Chance” the juggler, and audience participation in a silent movie slapstick routine. Also appealing is a fast-paced, circus-themed “Magic Beyond Belief” act of large-scale illusions.

Our 5-year old laughed aloud at the comedy, grandmother gasped in amazement at a daring physical feat, and I could not help but sing along to various well-known lyrics. This show truly works the hardest in town to provide quality entertainment. So after checking in with us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals, make sure and check out the engaging show at Smoky Mountain Opry Theater. For more information, see www.smokymtnopry.com