The good thing about long weekend holidays is I can save it for either road trips or just slack at home and sleep. This time I chose this Memorial Day Weekend to leave my footprints (and track prints) in four adjacent states. Yes, four states in four days. I think it's even more than four states. I agree, this is an ambitious undertaking, as my coworker blurted out (maybe due to envy? I don't know), but it was definitely worth it.
Tennessee - Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains
Allot at least 11 hours before arriving at the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway from NY. I didn't expect it to be that windy that Friday noon, so it was good that I brought along my hoodie. We made 4 stops along the winding steep roadway of the Blue Ridge, each scenic vista getting more breathtaking than the one before. My favorite was the last one on top of what seems like a cliff with three spruce trees, overlooking a meandering valley below and the majestic bluish- green mountains beyond.
Gatlinburg, TN - Laurel Point Ski Resort
After the long drive through the mountains, we settled in Laurel Point Ski Resort in Gatlinburg. We passed by the Main Street of Gatlinburg and boy, was I surprised. It looks like the Vegas of the South - only their main attractions are dinner shows instead of casinos. We are supposed to go to that show by Dolly Parton the following night but due to time constraints, we weren't able to do so.
Laurel Point is pretty decent for the price; it has a kitchenette, 2 bedrooms, a jacuzzi tub, and a terrace. Although there's this huge tree blocking a part of the view of the Smoky Mountains, we still had a picturesque view of the most visited national park in the country.
And if you would note, there truly is a smoky haze in between the mountain ridges early in the morning and I bet also in the afternoon.
Chattanooga, TN - Ruby Falls, Inclined Railway
From Gatlinburg, it took us around 3 hours to reach Chattanooga. We're here for the Ruby Falls, the Inclined Railway, and the Rock City. Well technically, Rock City is located in Georgia.
I thought the train would topple over when we reached the around-70 degree angle rolling all the way up from St. Elmo in Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga. This is one experience those with acrophobia should conquer.
The summit of Lookout Mountain has viewing decks and a gift shop that also sells exotic dried insect snacks. Gross I know, but I was actually fascinated by what looks like mini-scorpions frozen in time inside lollipops.
Ruby Falls was just like what I imagined it - only better. The pictures I've seen online don't do justice to this amazing work of nature. Mainly because other than the underground falls itself, there's this play of colored lighting and music that perfectly complements the view. The only thing that took longer than viewing the falls (which is less than five minutes) awestruck was traversing the cave to reach it.
I liked Virginia Beach. It's clean, has a neat waterfront, and cool people. And oh, that Poseidon statue - quite a head turner. If we only had more time (and warmer water) I could make use of some skinny-dipping and laying by the beach to watch the sun set. Sip some fruit shakes near the beachfront and your day will be complete.
Georgia - Rock City
Prior to coming to Rock City, I thought it only comprises of the falls and some rock formations. I was totally flabbergasted because it actually offered more. Rock City has meandering walkways leading above, beneath and along huge ancient rock formations. You'd find yourself in themed rock gardens, swinging on a bridge, and inside fairyland caverns as if you're happily lost in a well-thought labyrinth. The finale would be the amazing falls and the panoramic view of seven states around Georgia. No doubt the best seat in the house would be that overlooking the scenery while the sun rises or sets.