Fall Travel – The Great Smoky Mountains

web_blueridgeparkway49This short visit to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was part of a two week road trip we took in the fall of 2010. We had driven a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to the North Carolina/Tennessee border to the Clingman’s Dome observation deck. From my research prior to the trip, I learned Clingman’s Dome was the highest point in the park (and the highest point in Tennessee!) and would give a vantage point of The Smokies like you’ve seen in National Geographic. I wanted the National Geographic viewpoint! :)

What happened, though, is that the Smoky Mountains are not called “Smoky” for nothing. At the NC/TN border area called Newfound Gap we were already experiencing light drizzle and fog, but our visibility was still pretty good!

web_blueridgepkwy42 web_blueridgepkwy43web_blueridgepkwy36 web_blueridgepkwy41web_blueridgepkwy39Smokin’ in the Smokies… Iamsofunny.

web_blueridgepkwy40 web_blueridgepkwy38 web_blueridgepkwy37Did you know? A “gap” is a low point in a mountain ridge. We usually refer to them as “passes”. Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass in The Smokies!

From Newfound Gap, Clingman’s Dome Road is a 7 mile drive and then a very, I repeat very, steep half mile walk to the observation deck. I was in really bad shape at the time so the steep hike was particularly exhausting for me. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.

But because I felt exhausted, out of shape, and nervous that the rain and fog would ruin our view from the observation deck, cranky Jana came out. Let’s be honest, not every moment of every trip is going to be rainbows and sunshine, but when I start acting cranky, I’m horrible to be around. How does Trae stand this you ask? Oh, he just makes fun of me the whole time.

Instead of taking pictures to document the treck, he took videos. This is way before we started filming our trips so I was just annoyed at him! Here are some great low quality screen caps to show you the steep trail (if you’d like to see the embarrassing video from this it’s here.):

Picture 10 Picture 12I mean, it’s paved so it’s not difficult, it’s just steep. The entire time.

When we made it to the base of the observation deck I was positive our view would be completely fogged over, which a couple walking down confirmed by telling us “you missed the best views by 10 mintues!” I wanted to strangle them.

Picture 11Picture 13 Picture 15So this was our view from the Clingman’s Dome observation deck when we arrived. I was so sad because I had that National Geographic expectation in my head and that’s what I wanted to see.


But hey, mother nature has a way of doing nice things for an exhausted, cranky, & picky photographer: the fog cleared as we sat there defeated and we were given a few minutes of a beautiful view!

webIMG_3811 webIMG_3813 webIMG_3808And it seemed just as soon as the fog cleared, it was back again. But man was I thankful for those two minutes of a view. I’m sure Trae was even more thankful.

So it all turned out fine and cranky Jana disappeared. My advice to give from our experience: visit Clingman’s Dome earlier in the day if you can!

P.S. I hesitated sharing that I was in a bad mood during this adventure because a) I’m annoyed at myself that I was that way and b) I want to keep the content on this blog positive. But I also want to keep things honest, and I felt that my mood affected our experience and thus it needed to be mentioned. It is way too easy to make everything online seem perfect and happy all the time, and there is enough of that out there already! 

IMG_4767Next up on our fall favorites series: Central Park!

More from this road trip:

Blue Ridge Parkway

Biltmore Estate in Asheville

Destin, Florida

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Fall Travel – Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall is my favorite season to travel, and since we’re officially into what I consider the first month of fall, I thought I’d share a series of fall travel favorites!

First up: The Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive over 400 miles long that runs from The Great Smoky Mountains to Shenandoah National Park. The pace is slow and there are tons of overlooks, small trails, and historic landmarks to visit.

BlueRidgeParkwayMapWe visited in October of 2010 during a two week road trip from Oklahoma to Florida to Tennessee. We drove the end portion from Asheville to the North Carolina/Tennessee border at The Great Smoky Mountains. We only covered this very small portion but we saw so much! The fall color was definitely prominent so we were giddy as we began our leisurely drive!


web_blueridgepkwy02web_blueridgepkwy01 web_blueridgepkwy12 web_blueridgepkwy18 web_blueridgepkwy15We took our time during the drive, with our only destination goal being the Clingman’s Dome attraction in The Great Smoky Mountains before nightfall. The parkway had many small charming tunnels. We stopped at numerous scenic overlooks. We had packed an ice chest with food for lunch so when we got hungry we just pulled over and ate at one of the many picnic benches placed along the parkway.

web_blueridgepkwy06 web_blueridgepkwy04 web_blueridgepkwy07 web_blueridgepkwy10 web_blueridgepkwy08 web_blueridgepkwy16 web_blueridgepkwy17Looking Glass Rock

There was one particular spot where we hit the jackpot with fall color. It was like all the trees had caught fire it was so bright! We immediately pulled over and grabbed the camera.

web_blueridgepkwy20 web_blueridgepkwy19 web_blueridgepkwy23 web_blueridgepkwy26 web_blueridgepkwy28This area in the photo above is called Graveyard Fields. There was talk amongst the other visitors of waterfalls to be seen along the hiking trail. We decided to join the bandwagon and began what we believed would be a quick hike.

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We ended up hiking for an hour and a half and never got to a waterfall, but we did finally make it to some water. That satisfied us enough to move on down the parkway. Plus, we were hungry for lunch! We drove until we found an open picnic table. I swear there is not a bad picnic spot on the parkway!

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After our picnic we continued our drive along the parkway toward The NC/TN border and into the Great Smoky Mountains! We were so excited to see those picturesque mountains with fog hovering over them. Our weather didn’t quite provide us that magical view, but it was still breathtaking. We’ll share more about that in our next post!

web_blueridgepkwy42Up next :)

See new posts when they’re published – Follow The Carsons Travel on Bloglovin’!

More from this road trip:

Biltmore Estate in Asheville

Destin, Florida

Stitch Fix #2!

Today my second “Fix” arrived from the online personal styling company Stitch Fix! If you missed my first Fix, it’s right here :)

I must say I’m quite pleased with the selections sent to me! I feel like both times now I’ve pulled things out of the box and thought “oh man, this isn’t going to work,” and then it ended up working.

This Fix might also be successful thanks in part to the season of FALL. This is my favorite time of year to dress! Which is why I have a closet full of sweaters and nothing to wear in the summer. Screw summer!! :)

In my box was a pair of distressed skinny jeans, an interestingly shaped tank top, a semi-cropped green sweater, a plaid button-up, and a sparkly statement necklace. This was my favorite look pieced together:

webstitchfix02-04Jeans: Sophia Distressed Skinny Jean by Kensie  |  Sweater: Katarina Heathered Raglan Knit Sweater by Hem & Thread  |  Tank: Jerimiah Faux Leather Trim Split Back Top by Hem & Thread  |  Necklace: Marka Teardrop Gem Statement Necklace by Bay to Baubles  |  Shoes: (my own) Sam Edelman ankle booties

I really love this look! The tank I’m wearing underneath is definitely something I would never pick up in a store. I don’t even know that I want it now, other than to layer it under this sweater. It’s a bit awkward and unflattering on its own:

2014-10-09_0001Is it worth it to keep for layering?

webstitchfix02-07a little sweater and necklace detail

webstitchfix02-06The split in the back of the tank – is it awful looking like this? I don’t really mind, but please let me know if I’m being forgiving because of the yummy green sweater!!

Next I tried on the plaid button-up shirt with the skinny jeans:

webstitchfix02-08Shirt: Kalvin Plaid Button-Up by Olive & Oak

Love the colors and I love that there’s no gapping between the buttons over my chest. It’s thin and lightweight (100% Rayon).

webstitchfix02-09Boobs securely covered.

The fit is slightly snug around the shoulders though, and the bottom sides come up rather high to start with so if I raise my arms my stomach will show (i.e. couldn’t wear this on “fat days”). I tried wearing it with different shoes and layers to see how it felt:

2014-10-09_0002I’m torn over this one! I kind of like it open over my white tank (my Stylist suggested that pairing). Opinions welcome!

That wraps up Stitch Fix #2! Since I have to decide in 3 days what I don’t want, please feel free to share your opinion on any of these pieces in the comments below. And if you’d like to give Stitch Fix a try, why not do it using this link so I can get referral credit? Thanks guys! :)

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