I got out of bed around 6:30am on Monday morning. For some reason, knowing it was our last day in Tennessee made me shoot out of bed and ready to start the day. It was kind of like Christmas morning. You’re SO ready to run into the living room and tear open your presents while you sip hot chocolate, but you also want to take it slow and savor it because you know it won’t last forever. Kind of like a champagne buzz. Or a really good date.
The coffee was already brewed, thanks to my stepdad who wakes up at like, 4am for fun. After pouring myself a cup, I started getting ready, and by 8:30am, we were out the door with breakfast in hand. I’m not ashamed to admit that, aside from our first morning in TN, my daily breakfasts consisted of cinnamon sugar Pop-Tarts and Penicillin. Why don’t I eat Pop-Tarts more? They’re fan-freaking-tastic and would be EXCELLENT drunk food. I’ll put ‘em on my next grocery list. Also, in case you were wondering, my “pharyngitis” was completely non-existent on Friday morning, and I’ve been feeling good as new ever since. Thanks for the shot in the ass, doc. Moving on.
We drove back to Gatlinburg and into the Smoky Mountain National Park again today, but instead of spending twelve years wandering around a cove named after some dude named Kade, we took a left at the pinecone and ended up at Sugarlands Riding Stables, aka my crack. Y’all. I’m completely obsessed with horses now. Head over heels in love. Is it possible to marry a horse? Because I’m doing it.
We pulled into Sugarlands, and as we were walking up to the kiosk to pay, I couldn’t help but just breathe in the smell of the fresh air…and horse crap. Typically, the white city girl in me would be like, “Ewwwww, POOP.” But I was like, getting misty eyed because I was just so damn excited to ride again. And plus, everybody poops. That’s a book, too, so it MUST mean it’s true!
We were introduced to our guide. I forgot his name, but he looked like a Charlie. Or maybe Chad. Anyway, he was a blonde fella with chewing tobacco in his bottom lip, and he was sporting some cameo pants and a Hooters shirt. Pass. He was nice though.
The horse they picked out for me was the largest of them all. Why, I have no idea. He was a beautiful Palomino, and his name was Buck. Buck was a gentle giant, but he packed a punch. Many times during our ride, he would try to stop and drink from the streams, and they told you not to let them do that, so I’d have to pull on the reigns. At one point, he turned his head towards me in disapproval and just exhaled almost as if he was saying, “Seriously, let me drink some damn water.” I couldn’t help but laugh and just pat him on the neck. I also apologized profusely for good measure, so he wouldn’t buck me off into the abyss of the mountainside. I’d survive, though, and then I’d get my own movie kind of like 127 Hours.
The trail was literally in the mountains, which I thought was just the coolest thing. The path was narrow and winding and kind of scary at times. I knew that Buck knew what he was doing though, and I had full trust in him, but you never know when an animal will catch a wild hair and just flip out on you. All in all, it was a beautiful ride and was very different from our first experience at Jayell Ranch. I think, out of the two, I favored Jayell more than Sugarlands, but I think that’s because we spent much more time at the other ranch and basically became friends with everyone there. Sugarlands was nice, though, and the ride was much more scenic. We even trotted through some streams! It was cute and completely validated my wanting a horse even more. That’s my new mission in life.
The rest of the day was kind of low key. We just walked around downtown Gatlinburg and shopped around. We went into the Pancake Pantry and had lunch. All I’ve been seeing around here are pancake houses, so we decided to stop into one. We didn’t even order pancakes, though. We ordered crepes. They were alright, but much to sweet for me. The marinated cucumbers and my house salad stole the show, though. I don’t know what it is about TN, maybe the altitude, but I have been housing vegetables like it’s my job. They act as a good balance to all the moonshine I’ve been drinking though.
We stopped into our third and final moonshine tasting at Davy Crocketts. They also offered a whiskey tasting too, so we decided to hop on that bandwagon as well. The moonshine was okay, but the cream-based whiskey stole the show. We tried Mud (aka “mudslide”), Cookies and Cream (kind of like a White Russian), Pumpkin Spice, and Eggnog. All of them were fantastic, but I liked the nog the best. Like, all I want to do right now is blend up a bottle of that with some ice, stick a straw in it, and call it a day. Before leaving Davy’s, I bought a pink long-sleeved shirt that, on the back, reads “Hot Southern Mess”. Perfect por moi.
We headed back to the cabin around 5:30pm. I wanted to hang around and watch the game in a bar, as did Mom, but the dudes were being grandpas. They’re not ‘bout that Gatlinburg lyfe.
Heading back early ended up being a good choice, because it gave us time to pack and unwind over a few glasses of wine. Mom and I went out to the porch and sat in the hot tub for a little while and then went back inside for dinner. After finding out that we didn’t get ESPN, therefore, no Saints game, we settled in for the Voice and listening to the game on the radio. The Voice was cool. The Saints were not.
Lights out around 11:30pm.
Tuesday recap to come!
Talk to y’all soon,