A Morning Ride at Cades Cove Stables: Our Favorite Horseback Riding Place in the Smokies

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We are lucky to have a selection of horseback riding stables in this area. When you want to saddle up and ride, there is a stable that is particularly worth the drive to the mountains. We had a wonderful morning ride at Cades Cove Stables. Here is a summary of our trip.

Lisa and I wanted a final, fun activity before work resumed last month so we drove up to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to try the stables located at the entrance. We had tried to ride a week earlier, but a fast moving storm cancelled rides for several hours so we decided to try again a week later. As it turned out, we had the perfect morning and an idyllic ride on our last day of summer vacation.

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We wanted to be in the first group (if possible) so we met at 7:30 and drove through Wears Valley in order to arrive by opening at 9:00 a.m. There are no reservations. First come, first serve. There seemed to be about 30 horses in the stables ready to ride. That was a lot more than I was expecting so they can handle different group sizes.

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Enter the office, sign a waiver, pay, and choose a riding helmet, if you like. I think that they were optional for adults, but we tried them to ‘get the whole experience.’ We like wearing cool hats too.

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You will get a quick lesson from your guide and then saddle up. You can see how easy it is to get up in the saddle with this platform. Lisa’s horse was named Puddin.’

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My horse was very gentle and nice. Her name was Noble. She reminded me of a Palomino.

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Everyone gets a safety check of bridles, straps, and stirrups. They were very thorough.

And away we go!

The trail is about 3 miles so the ride lasts about an hour. It is mainly flat and woodsy.

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About a mile into the ride, the guide will stop and do another quick safety check.

On the way out and back, you get to cross a shallow creek. So relaxing!

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We mainly walked, but there were some sections on the trail that we got to trot. I wasn’t expecting that for a trail ride and really enjoyed it!

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One thing we really appreciated was the fact that our guide stopped at the halfway point and took pictures with everyone’s cameras so we could remember the moment. It is not recommended to use a camera during a ride because it could scare the horse and you need both hands ready–just in case. I took pictures and video for this blog. If I did it again, I would use my clear camera sports bag and just wear it around my neck. It is not easy juggling a camera and riding so the guides will help you with photography. We really needed help with the picture above so it was a nice service. We left a nice tip to show our appreciation for everything.

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At the end of the ride, dismounting is just as easy. You use a platform to get off the horse so all ages can ride.

Dismounting is as easy as pie!

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Our guide, Debbie, was the best. I was impressed that she could ride backwards in the saddle while talking to us. Get a picture at the end of hour so you can remember them and your ride in the mountains.

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There are children’s rides and carriage rides available as well.

Here is a link:      http://www.cadescovestable.com/index.html

In summary, here are the things that we liked the most about this riding stable.

  1. The horses and healthy and well treated. They get every other day ‘off’ in the pasture.
  2. These are knowledgable ‘horse people.’ They know what they are doing. They are friendly too.
  3. The trail is easy so you can relax and enjoy the ride.
  4. The are times that you may trot, if you like.
  5. The waiting area is good. We saw a bear on our first trip.
  6. There is a bathroom next to the office.
  7. The horses are well tempered and gentle.

Here are some good ideas.

  1. Wear old shoes or boots.
  2. Bring a snack and have a picnic in Cades Cove after your ride. Keep it safe from bears in your car.
  3. Wear a sports camera carrier bag around your neck if you want to take photos.
  4. I hate a horsefly and there was one that bedeviled our horses during the ride. Be watchful and gently swat at them if they land near the top of the tail where the horse cannot reach as well.
  5. Maybe wear a hat or a visor.
  6. Crowds are smaller during local rod run weekends and other big events.
  7. Tip your wonderful guide!

 

This was a wonderful way to end our summer vacation. We highly recommend Cades Cove Stables. It is our favorite horseback riding place in the Smoky Mountains!

 

 

Your Coffee Break Just Got Better: A Visit to Smoky Mountain Espresso

Do you enjoy a fireplace with your morning java? A new coffee place has opened on the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Middle Creek Road that can give you that experience. I took a quick trip to check out Smoky Mountain Espresso this morning. Here is what I found…

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The fireplace is very warm and cozy. You could wear a T-shirt in that spot and be very comfortable. My latte was wonderful.

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Make note! The drive thru window is open at 6:30 a.m. during the week. The front door usually opens by 7:00 in the morning.

There will be a grand opening on Wednesday, February 28th from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. They will celebrate with $1 lattes and mochas! Scroll their Facebook page to find

https://www.facebook.com/smespresso/  

because they have a contest to give away free coffee for a year! ‘Like,’ ‘share,’ or ‘tag’ a friend to enter.

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I found the location to be easy and accessible at 1259 Middle Creek Road. You can see the traffic light in the picture above. In addition, you can see the future location of Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt next door. The owners ( who own both businesses)  hope to be open by Feb. 14th.

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Walk in the front door and the bathrooms are immediately inside. The open foyer leads to the coffee shop on the left and the yogurt shop on the right.

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This must be good!

I asked them which was the most requested coffee right now and they replied “the Smoky Mountain Mocha.” It can be served hot, cold, or over ice. Also, this month there is a special Chocolate Covered Strawberry coffee. Oh, my!

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Smoky Mountain Espresso is beautifully decorated with a cool, mountain feel. Smoky Mountain Espresso offers coffee, tea, smoothies, and Nitro coffee. Nitro is a very cold brew with a frothy top. Must try one this summer.

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Of course, this was the preferred spot for my skim latte.

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There are plenty of chairs and views of the beautiful hills and woods.

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Like Sweet Frog, this is a Christian owned company. I have always enjoyed the good vibes that you get there so this place is no exception. I enjoyed listening to music by Crowder, Chris Tomlin, and Switchfoot during my time there. The music is very soft so you will have no trouble having a conversation.

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Here is a nice touch…the indoor fireplace is actually a ‘double fireplace’ because it is inside and outside. They will place more tables and chairs in this outdoor area and it will be a great place to enjoy a treat with friends. Or have a faculty meeting? I vote “yes!”

Smoky Mountain Espresso is located across the street from the Holston Conference United Methodist Connexion building, visible in the photo above.

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Treats are available for those who want a snack or breakfast on the go.

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This is the place to go for a gourmet cup of coffee because each one is ground fresh the moment that you order it. I couldn’t help but admire the huge grinders on the counter in front of me.

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This will be quite an asset to Sevierville and I know a lot of people will enjoy a gourmet blend now, whether on the way to work, or on weekends. See more photos on my blog Facebook page for pictures: Out and About in Sevierville.com

I will visit the Smoky Mountain Espresso again soon. Save me a seat on the couch!

 

Lift Your Spirits! A Trip to Sevier Distilling Company.

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A dreary, cold Friday prompted Karen and I to investigate a new distillery in Sevierville. This one is special and I think that you would enjoy spending an hour or more there. It is easy to lift your spirits at Sevier Distilling Company. Come along, if you like, and see this new business in town.

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We walked in to see beautifully displayed merchandise. You won’t see a T-shirts displayed more attractively than this.

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The room is clean and sleek with an ‘industrial mountain’ vibe in the decor. I love it. Look at the beautiful floors reflecting the room. This business has only been open since October 2017 so go to the Sevier Distilling Facebook page to see the metamorphosis. Here is a link: https://www.facebook.com/sevierdistilling/https://www.facebook.com/sevierdistilling/

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The sign behind the bar is stunning. Absolutely beautiful. It was created by local artist, Chuck Ottolini. The sign changes colors as well. Note the examples in the picture collage  above.

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Ottollini also created the front of the bar area. It is stunning. This alone is worth a visit!

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Staven, our server and distillery guide, was quite helpful. He took his time explaining the products and the distilling processes.

I was admiring their floor mats too.

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We ran into one of the family members who owns the distillery, Chris Yett, pictured here with his friendly dog. I have known the family for years so that was another reason that I wanted to visit the business. His dad is checking on things in the background.

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You have a opportunity to taste the products. They say that there is no sugar in the product and no GNS (Grain Neutral Spirits). Sevier Distilling Co. makes everything and processes on site. There are three flavors for sale. The Tennekeela was sold out during our visit due to a high volume of sales during the holidays. As you would guess, that product is a tequila.

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Besides tastings, you can also order a cocktail or spirited concoction by the bartender.

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It is always fun to go behind the scenes and tour a factory or facility. Staven showed us where the processing takes place. He took his time and answered all our questions.

IMG_5127We saw where they fill the jars, then label and seal the jars by hand.

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It is always interesting to see the grains and ingredients that go into a product.

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We saw various machines and heard about chemical processes. The white container above holds distilled water. The blue containers hold honey for the Yenoh product.

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Study the label very carefully and see if you can discover what Yenoh was named for…

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They lifted the lid to let my look into this vat of corn mash. It smelled like corn bread!

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I was fascinated by the vats and containers. So interesting! They looked like a Jules Verne or steam punk creation.

IMG_5155We looked out the back door to see these things. The flag measures 1800 square feet with an 180 foot flagpole. The picture above shows two 1,000 gallon vats and one 5,500 gallon container.

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Beautifully displayed products.

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One of my favorite things is the name of the vodka because it is based on the family name. I know them and ‘get a kick out of it.’ Also, they told us that Chris somehow posed for the design above. On the next visit,  I will ask to see him to recreate the emblem for a photo. So clever!

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There are a lot of nice souvenirs to choose from at Sevier Distilling Company. The leaning Yetti shot glass was our favorite.

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Sevier Distilling Company is open 7 days a week. Right now, they are operating on winter hours, pictured above.

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As our visit ended, Karen and I decided that we must return with more friends. Sevier Distilling Company is very clean, attractive, and relaxed. The servers do not rush you and they are glad to answer any questions. I felt no pressure to buy any products, but they apparently sold a ton of things over the recent holiday. It was very enjoyable and I could have lingered another hour there.

The behind the scenes tour is excellent and gives one insight to the growing industry in our county. It was a very enjoyable afternoon, even though it was cold and dreary outside. Sevier Distilling Company can certainly help you lift your spirits when you are out and about in Sevierville. 

 

 

A Visit to the Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort

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I was sorry that I missed a friend’s birthday party here last week. They reported that it was a nice experience. Fortunately, an appointment was open after work this afternoon so I was able to fit in a treatment. The spa was offering a special for locals who work in my field so I knew that it was the time to visit the spa. What a nice experience!

Welcome to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort Spa.

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The front porch was inviting, but it was nearing time for my appointment so I couldn’t linger.

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The spa is located downstairs so stop at the top and enjoy the view. If you look toward the center of the photo then you can see the top of two extreme water slides in Splash Country.

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You don’t need an appointment to visit the spa so enjoy the beautiful ambiance!

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Having visited here before with my sister and her children, I know that this is the best spot in the building. The view is breathtaking. Take it in!

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It is an extraordinary presentation of Dolly’s albums and music. Amazing!

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The entrance of the spa is spacious and it radiates light.

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Once inside, the decor is comfortably posh.

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Everything is pretty.

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There is a door to the right that goes out to the patio. People can lounge there and enjoy a snack or beverage. I can imagine how nice that could be with friends on a warm day.

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The robes and slippers are hung with care. The lockers are almost invisible and blend in with everything in the room.

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The couples treatment room is ready.

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Even the floors are lovely.

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Bathrooms/changing rooms are immaculate.

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My room was so nice, warm, and cozy. Your mind will float away within minutes.

I tried an aromatherapy massage by Michelle and it was one of the best that I have ever had. She really does and good job and takes pride in her work. In addition, she makes sure that she is exerting the right pressure for you. The hand and scalp massage was superior to most that I have experienced in other places.  I was completely comfortable. Be sure and ask for Michelle!

A variety of products are for sale at the front desk.

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Checkout was quick and easy. Dee was warm, friendly, and helpful. In fact, I forgot my little gift bag on a table so she made an effort to call and text me before I left. I really appreciated that she went to that effort for me.

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You can’t help but admire the design as you leave the spa.

The resort is ready for fall. Festive notes of autumn are here and there.

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This new event looks fun!

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I see our lovely friend Peggy, pictured right, in this ad for the spa.

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This Thanksgiving meal must be amazing!

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As you walk through the front door, you will want to linger on this porch and to sit a while  in the rocking chairs. How nice it would be to sit and look at the mountains for a while.

My friends and I will return to the Dollywood DreamMore Resort some day. It is a spa fit for a queen…like our queen of country music here in Sevier County.

The Dollywood DreamMore Resort Spa is a new favorite for when you are out and about in Sevierville. 

 

Fly High at Sevier Air!

Looking for fun or an intense workout? This place has it all …and more! Follow along as eight of us played at Sevier Air yesterday.


First, you walk in the door and check in by computer, watching safety rules and signing an electronic waiver. Pay close attention because you want to have fun, not deal with bumps, bruises, or worse. The tutorial goes quickly and you’ll be glad to know all the rules for your first visit.


The price is more than worth it. Kids play freely and get a huge workout (adults too). Bystanders can watch for free and take pictures. Well worth it!


You will get a special pair of socks with grippy bottoms to reduce slickness. Bring them back each visit and receive $2 off. You can see the cubbies in the picture above. There are several throughout the building. The Ninja Course requires shoes, so just store them in cubbies while jumping on the trampoline courses.


We started on the Ninja Course because my niece is applying to the police academy and must do a fitness and obstacle course. This ninja course is nothing to laugh at because I could do very little of it. The course replicates the TV show. Consequently, we stayed there a long time, especially with the walls to scale. It was amazing and we all tried it. Over and over again. Two of my nephews could do it so it was great fun.


You have to get a running start and feet must dig into the wall, using all your momentum. It is amazing that people can do this. My sisters and I tried it several times. It is a fun way to compete against each other. Suzanne got her hands up the highest so she won.


The kid at the top may be a future ninja on TV. What an athlete!


The glass wall was kind of hard.

Slam dunk to your heart’s content. One was even adjustable, coming down to any player’s reach. Fun!


There were several dodge ball courts. We played before leaving and just 10 minutes there can be exhausting. But what fun. We played boys against the girls, with one little boy wanting to play with us. I threw the ball as hard as I could, but my nephew just caught it in his hands. No head shots allowed! The hardest part is maintaining your space with a lot of players and not intruding on their trampoline. Strategy!


The jousting area is fun. Players must be well matched in order to play. If you fall in the foam then it feels great, but you really have to ‘swim out’ to get out of there.


I am no athlete, but had a blast!  Therefore, I recommend that you do 2 hours. One hour goes by too quickly. Especially if you are playing with family and friends.


Adults and kids can play side by side. Be careful because you could get a bump, bruise, etc. It is very vigorous, intense fun.


You can take some fun pictures in there. Can you see what we are spelling? V-O-L-S!

We also took some fun ‘Boomerang’ shots for Instagram.


Snack bar downstairs can come in handy. There are drink vending machines on all levels too.


There are a lot of rooms for birthday parties. Each room has a capacity of 43 people. My nephew had his birthday here earlier in the year and enjoyed it with lots of his friends.  Call Sevier Air to get more details.

I was very, very impressed with the amenities for parents and those who prefer not to play. No kidding—it was nice!


An upper level looks over the entire facility. There are large screen TVs, chairs, and tables for waiting parents.  A lounge for ninja parents.


You can rent a massage chair. In addition, you can charge your cell phone while you wait. Brilliant!




Ball are lined up for dodge ball. Workers can referee, if you like.

I was very impressed with Sevier Air and can’t wait to go back. I asked and they said that they may resume fitness classes there in the future. You burn a LOT of calories there.

Here are my final recommendations:

  1. Wear shorts and a T-shirt because you will get a little hot.
  2. Pay attention at all times and follow the rules so you don’t get banged up. I did fine. Just bumped my elbows on the ‘wall,’ but almost twisted my foot on the way down.
  3. Do a minimum of 2 hours. One is just getting warmed up!
  4. Try to go mid-week when the crowds are down if you are not used to jumping on trampolines.
  5. Eat a good snack or carb load before you go. It takes a lot of energy there, but you have so much fun that you don’t realize it until later.
  6. Go with as many friends and family as will go. The more the merrier. I have not laughed that much in a while. So fun!

Play like a ninja and don’t worry about who is watching.

We are all ninjas.

Sevier Air rocks and Sevierville is lucky to have such a nice facility. My sister said that it is a lot better than the one in Knoxville due to the challenging ninja course. With that, you need to fly high at Sevier Air. We did!
It is an intensely fun way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

See you at the ‘wall!’