GATLINBURG

It may be just my circle of friends and family, but prior to this trip I had not heard of Gatlinburg. It’s a small town in Tennessee on the northern side of The Smoky Mountains with a population of less than 5000. My husband would send me Instagram posts of activities going on in Gatlinburg and I was immediately drawn in by the fairy lights and outdoor activities. I just didn’t think we’d be heading there anytime soon.

For my surprise anniversary trip we arrived in Gatlinburg mid afternoon. WOO! But we were hangry. More accurately, I was hangry. It seemed appropriate we would end up at a place called Dick’s Last Resort. In hindsight I should have noticed the character on my menu. For reference, there he is down below…

Tony remembered seeing a video about this years ago. Basically the premise is they don’t have to be nice to you. Far from it, they are known for being mean and not taking your shit. They get a kick out of throwing napkins and straws at you; no save the turtles here lol. It’s family style seating whether you like it or not. And you get paper hats with custom names courtesy of your waiter. Turns out a “lot lizard” is not a reptile. Google it…

Here’s two things stood out to me the most:

  1. Tony asked for a seltzer and lime and I asked for a water as is our custom. The waiter followed that with calling us cheap for not ordering alcohol. The waiter then brought Tony the seltzer with no lime. We thought he just forgot about it. But five minutes later the waiter rolled an entire lime towards Tony on the table. A WHOLE LIME! I laughed pretty hard at that one for a while. I did not see that coming.
  2. The next thing that happened was to the elderly woman sitting next to me. She politely asked the waiter to cut her burger in half. He turned around and said, “Listen Mee-Maw, I ain’t your grandson and I don’t have to listen to you!” At first I was shocked, and then I laughed pretty hard at her expense lol. Sorry not sorry.

Overall it was fun. I wouldn’t make that the establishment I take my parents to, but I would definitely recommend people do it at least once.

After filling our bellies we explored the area by foot. There is an entire distillery called Ole Smoky Moonshine tucked away behind Dick’s last resort. The entire town was decked out with harvest decor too.

You can both see and smell the process, as well as read about moonshine’s history and origin. I’m all for a nice alcoholic beverage, but that smell was nasty BLEGH!

To make up for the smell there was a band playing live music and plenty of rocking chairs to enjoy the tunes. Inside the store I found some of the most aesthetically pleasing shelves ever!

Later on that night once the sun had gone down we were feeling especially adventurous. Tony, who is afraid of heights on most days, had the bright idea to venture into the Skylift Park. He didn’t realize you needed to ride the yellow and orange sky lift in order to get to the sky bridge. For reference I’ve added an image below that was taken the next day with daylight.

Normally I would be making fun of him because it’s not that high. But the swinging yellow death traps do not secure you into your seat. The restraint, if you could even call it that, lifts and does not lock in. Needless to say, we were both slightly freaking out. Don’t judge us.

Did I mention the Sky Bridge has glass floors too? We didn’t know until we were up there either lol. Oh, and the bridge swings in the wind too.

Once we were done exploring the bridge we found a bar inside the cafe. We had some beers and enjoyed some nice views of Gatlinburg. Well, at least I was enjoying myself until Tony reminded me we still needed to ride the death traps down to go back to the car. FML.

Obviously I’m exaggerating when I call them death traps lol. I’ve never gone skiing and didn’t know that in order to keep the flow moving the restraints didn’t lock. Don’t let my over-dramatization deter you from heading up either. It’s real nice up there. The views include the space needle and the mountain coaster. The beer is also a bonus. Sort of like a prize for conquering your fear of heights (not that I have one). And sort of like liquid courage to help you head back down.

Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.

-Lewis Carroll
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NASSAU SUFFOLK TRAIL

[OCTOBER 2019- UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF POST]

I have biked different parts of this trail and completed different distances per visit. I love this place for it’s location, access and options. Want to walk hand in hand with a loved one? Want to fish without having to take the boat out? Want to bike 20 miles? Want paved or dirt paths? Want to hang out with the resident swans, ducks, geese, fish, etc? It’s a versatile trail with a little bit for everyone.

My brother and I went for a bike ride Sunday. This time we started on Sunrise highway, unlike last time where we started on Merrick Rd. The good thing is that there are several different places you can park along the way. I’ve parked in Plainview and headed south on the trail too. You can essentially choose to start the trail wherever you find an entrance. Just please park responsibly and be courteous to the neighboring residents when deciding where to leave your vehicle.

The trail begins in Cold Spring Harbor and ends in Massapequa. Here’s a screenshot of my google maps so you can get an idea of the trail and it’s location.

There’s a few things you should pay attention to when biking this trail.

  • 1. Always stay to the right and be courteous to the pedestrians sharing the trails.
  • 2. There are dirt paths as well, but pay attention to fallen trees (my brother was almost taken out by one as he likes to pedal fast).
  • 3. Bring bug spray, especially if you’re going in the later afternoon.
  • 4. STOP at the stop signs when crossing roads or ramps. The cars are supposed to yield, but wait until they come to a complete stop before crossing (better safe than sorry).
  • 5. As expected, bring enough water. Especially in the summer months.

There isn’t much else to say about this trail… So I’m going to share pictures from different parts of the trail below. These pictures are compiled from the different times I’ve gone throughout the years. My hope is that if you haven’t gone to this park yet and live locally, that you would take advantage of this backyard space we all share. It may not be a crazy mountain or have spectacular 360 views, but it’s a great place to forget we live in a densely populated suburban area for a while. And if you have gone, maybe I’ll see you there sometime soon!

[UPDATE: OCTOBER 2019]

I’d like to thank one of my readers for expressing some frustrations that can be experienced on the trail. It’s an unfortunate thing to experience while enjoying the outdoors, but a reality for some.

In an effort to prevent any animosity on the trail for a hiker/biker visiting my blog, I’ve very diligently researched and collected information for you below. I hope you find this useful and informative for your next outing. Especially because it is impossible very difficult to find one full map for the different biking/hiking sections without paying a fee and becoming a member. But fear not, I have done the leg work for you and saved us all some money!

Beginning at the northern-most portion of the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail you’ll find a trailhead specifically for hikers. There is a parking lot across the road from the Billy Joel Park and Boat Ramp (I can’t make these names up). And this trail runs the length of the Cold Spring Harbor State Park.

Once you reach Stillwell Woods Park there will be a plethora of bike paths. If you’re biking these trails, be aware of the different skill levels and the fact that they are single track trails. Wouldn’t want you to collide with other mountain bikers at those speeds! If hiking you’ll want to stay on the Trail View/Nassau-Suffolk LIGTC.

Between Stillwell Woods Park and Bethpage State Park you’ll find Trail View State Park. After crossing under the train tracks (not over the train tracks! this is dangerous!) there will be two parallel trails that run along most of this park. The western trail (Blue Bike Bath and CLIMB Bike Path) is for biking and the eastern trail (Nassau-Suffolk Trail LIGTC) is for hiking. They will generally overlap when crossing roads or bridges as shown below.

When you reach Sunnyside Blvd there are a couple of options depending on what method of transportation you chose for the day. If you’re biking/hiking you can find a way to SAFELY cross the street at the crosswalks at Fairchild Avenue and head south on the Bethpage Bikeway (BB). Or you can ride south on Sunnyside Blvd and make a quick left back onto CLIMB Bikeway. I have not gone onto the CLIMB bikeway here and so therefore I’ll leave that for another post another day. For now we will follow the BB south.

The BB -which is the paved trail, NOT the dirt path- will run parallel to the 495/LIE N service road until you make a right on Washington Avenue. The bike trail is very easy to follow south all the way to Massapequa Preserve.

It is imperative I mention this in this post. The BB begins just north of and runs south of Bethpage State Park. According to the DOT.NY.GOV website the southern-most section of the trail is for biking, skiing, horseback riding and walking. It is a Shared Use Path as described by their caption below. There are dirt paths that intersect the BB but I couldn’t find anything clarifying whether they were specific to bikers or hikers. For now it is clear that the paved path is a shared path to be used by the allowable uses listed below. If anyone can impart some wisdom on the dirt paths it would be highly appreciated. Otherwise I’ll provide an update the next time I’m out on the trail.

I hope this update has clarified the different uses in the different areas of the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail. Let me know if there is anything else you’d like to discuss and I’ll do my best to research and inform! And if you’ve made it this far into the update, you’re today’s MVP. Thanks for reading 🙂

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”

– Gary Snyder