Weekend Getaway

12 Aug

We took a trip to the Smoky Mountains last weekend to ride the “real” Dinosaur Train, T’s current franchise obsession.  Because of our work schedules and budget, we could only stay one night, but it turned out to be the perfect little getaway!

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Bryson City, NC is about three hours from Atlanta, driving mostly via those endless roads that have about four numbers and two names each. I just call it memory lane, because on the way, we passed the college P attended when we were doing the long-distance thing, and the turn off for Highlands, where we did summer stock together for a few years when we were PYTs and T was just a fleck of glitter in our eyes.

We arrived at our destination, the Hemlock Inn, right before the dinner bell on Saturday. You think I’m joking. Hemlock Inn is a bed & breakfast that also serves dinner, and they for real ring a legit bell to call people to meals.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

It was a charming little place, and about as close to roughing it as this girl gets. That is to say, they had indoor plumbing and actual beds, but no central A/C and no TVs in the rooms. But there was an awesome private screened-in porch on our room. Plus, who needs TV when you have a panoramic view of the mountains from the rockers on a huge wraparound porch?

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There was also a library, free board and lawn games, and a TV common room if you really can’t quell the urge. Meal times were rather fraught for me, since the family-style dining experience required sitting with a bunch of strangers and engaging in my least favorite pastime, small talk. But the food made up for it. It was served on a gigantic lazy susan that makes it painfully obvious when your greedy ass goes for seconds–which was inevitable. The staff is crazy-ridiculous, bend-over-backwards friendly. Which almost made up for the fact that the whole digs was teetotalling. It just didn’t feel like a vacation without a cocktail. #firstworldproblems

There was also a little hiking trail attached to the property, which we enthusiastically ascended after breakfast the next morning, killing some time before our 2:30 ride on the D-train. Enthusiastically, that is, until we got to the top. The man that lived there (??) had a little yippy dog that pounced on T, and then he offers us this pleasantry as we set off on our way down: “Y’all watch out for Rattlers and Copperheads now. The Inn likes to tell people there aren’t any Copperheads here, but I killed three on my porch last week!”

Greeeaaat.

Might want to check the other side of that log first, big T.

Might want to check the other side of that log first, big T.

After we’d safely made our way back to the room and taken scalding showers to rid ourselves of sweat, bugs, and poison ivy juice, I asked Patrick if we planned to do any more nature activities, trying to figure out what to wear, and he goes “I hope not.”

We’re such an outdoorsy clan, we Youngs.

Then it was on to the Dinosaur Train! All ABOARD!

The Smoky Mountain railroad is right in the downtown of Bryson City. You might, in fact, call it its raison d’etre. We browsed through the train museum and bought the requisite souvenirs before boarding the train.

First Class, SUCKAS

First Class, SUCKAS

T, who missed naptime, promptly fell asleep on the train.

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He didn’t miss much. Side note: for those of you familiar with D-train, the time tunnel was totally lame. You closed your eyes and shouted a lot.  But when we arrived in the Cretaceous period, there were a lot of cute little activities. There was following the footprints to the dino that left them.

Up high, Troledon.

Up high, Troodon.

There was digging for treasures in the sands of time.

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To some children who shall remain nameless, it was more fun to bury the fossils than dig them up.

There was, of course, the prehistoric slide.

And by of course, I mean unfortunately

And by of course, I mean unfortunately.

And we got to meet Buddy the T-Rex.

I've been there, bBuddy.

I’ve been there, bBuddy.

There was a lot to do; we stayed busy the whole time.  The ride did feel like a trip back in time–maybe not to the Cretaceous, but at least a few decades. We passed over a river where the bank was sedimented with layers of – get this – cars that had fallen off the road above and smashed into the side of the bank. T managed to stay awake this time and we got humongous ice creams to cap off the trip. I think T was as excited, possibly more, by the double chocolate chip cone then by the train itself.

And of course, they like to hit you up for one more swipe of the credit card when they present you with a professional photo, all printed and inserted into a keepsake card, for your optional purchase. P pulled a Debbie Loetell (aka my mom) and took a picture of the picture so we wouldn’t have to buy it.

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Before you judge, would YOU have paid $22 for that? Think about it.

So next time you’re in the Smokies, we highly recommend the Hemlock Inn, and a ride on the Smoky Mountain Railroad if your family includes little ones and/or nerds. Definitely a good time had by all!

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