Mountains, beer, and fireflies: part one.

I was standing outside of work, contemplating about going in. It was an hour and a half later than my scheduled time and I thought for sure I was going to be fired. I took a deep breath, turned the handle, and proceeded to walk inside.

But lets go back a little ways.

It had been less than a year since I moved to Nashville. One of my friends back in Michigan takes the trip to Delaware every summer for the Firefly Music Festival, and this year she was celebrating her Dirty 30. So naturally I agreed to meet her there. When I told our other friend Hayley that I had bought my tickets, she eagerly agreed to fly down and drive with me, turning the whole thing in to a big road trip.

Now, we had the whole thing planned out. Gatlinburg, Asheville, DC, just to name a few stops. But funny thing about moving to a new city: you don’t necessarily know the major events that happen every year. Like a little festival called Bonnaroo. I had originally asked for a week and a half off, my friend had already bought her plane ticket, and our Airbnb was already booked. That’s when work told me I couldn’t have the first weekend off because of the festival. (As a server, there always needs to be a certain number of people on the floor for the night to go smooth and I had put my request in after everyone else.)

One of the great things about Hayley is that she is always up for any adventure. So she came down anyway and ran around the city while I had to work at night.

I was able to get Sunday off, but there was absolutely no way I would get out of Monday. Luckily, Hayley and I are great travel companions, because we always make things happen, even if they are a little crazy. So what did we do on Sunday? We woke up, discussed driving to Gatlinburg for the night  and then driving back before my shift on Monday.

And then we did it.

We arrived in the mountains that afternoon, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then headed toward our hike: The Chimney Tops.


It was late afternoon but we figured since it was a short hike, we would have enough sunlight to make it back. I mean, it was only 2 miles up and 2 miles back! Oh, except that you climb 1,400 ft in those 2 miles…and you’re dealing with the Tennessee heat and humidity that occurs in June.

Pretty much groaned every time we saw a new set of stairs.

I think my least favorite part of hiking is asking people on their way back how much farther to the top and they just laugh and laugh…

Eventually we made it, and let me tell you…I had never seen a view like this before. The only thing is, I do get scared. And there is a bit of climbing left to do when you get near the top.

Hayley took this of me from the top…which is clearly not where I was..

After what felt like forever I did muster up enough courage to climb up to where she was, though.

I like to think I look calmer than I felt.

We may not look too bad, but it was not an easy hike. We worked for it. And it was worth every step.

What an incredible sunset.

It saddens me to know that this trail is not open this year because of the fire that occurred a few months ago, but I am confident that the National Park Service is working to restore the hike to it’s former self.

We hiked down a little bit so we could comfortably open the (shaken and slightly warm) beers that we packed in our backpacks before heading back in the dark with the couple that was still hanging out at the top, too.

After we got reached the car, we went back to Gatlinburg to our hotel and after an unsuccessful search for an open restaurant, picnicked in the hotel room and fell asleep.

The next morning it was breakfast and coffee before heading back to Nashville for my one shift.

The thing about road trips, though, is you never know if you’re going to get stuck in traffic. And you never expect to get stuck twice. Needless to say, I was very late.

Luckily, I had let my manager know what was going on the entire time and I did not get in trouble. So I worked my shift before driving all night to Asheville.

But that’s another story.

To be continued…


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