I’m a frequent traveler, and I was not planning for coronavirus to cancel my 2020 trips. The idea of not traveling for the rest of the year was too much. What does a travel blogger write about when she can’t fly?
The safer-at-home order ended on May 1st in Knoxville, Tennessee. However, my boyfriend and I were still concerned about rejoining the public and the possibility of getting sick or passing it to someone else. Although we agreed to continue practicing social distancing, the idea of being cooped up at home was numbing.
My stir-crazy boyfriend started thinking of places:
- Where we could still isolate.
- Where we could access by car.
- That would actually feel like a vacation.
He got the perfect idea from one of his coworkers about 60 minutes away in the mountain town of Gatlinburg.
“We are going to rent a cabin!” he declared to my chagrin. I’m not a nature person and images of bugs, dirt, and non-existence climate control flooded my mind.
Fortunately, my boyfriend is not easily dissuaded and he showed me the traditional-looking log cabins and modern houses available through American Patriot Getaways. To my surprise, the cabins – using the term loosely – were better than I expected; updated kitchens, laundry machines, and central air. If this was camping, then I’ve seriously been missing out.
After ranking the rental options tucked into hills of East Tennessee, we selected the two-bed/two-bath “Castle on the Hill” since it had our three absolute requirements:
- Hot tub
- Jacuzzi tub (we’re water people)
- Great view of the Smokey Mountains
The company has a contact-free check-in, so we use our access code when we arrived at 3 pm on Friday. I brought Clorox bleach wipes for the doorknobs, light switches, and other rarely-cleaned surfaces. We wouldn’t come within 60 feet of another person, much less six.
The master bedroom and bathroom made up the entire top floor, and the floor-to-vaulted ceiling windows exemplified the view of the mountains. My large Jacuzzi tub sat diagonal from the bed, perfect for our romantic weekend sans coronavirus.
Even though the furnishings were dated, the house felt clean, comfortable, and a thousand miles away from another soul. The most inviting feature was available in almost every room; the view!
The main floor opened up to the large deck that wrapped halfway around the house. I followed the two sets of tables and chairs to find the screened-in hot tub room at the other end of the deck. Like I said, perfect.
Although The Strip in Gatlinburg is jam-packed with restaurants, we brought a weekend’s worth of food and alcohol as part of our continued social distancing. Best homemade romantic meals and drinks:
- Coffee + Pancakes and bacon
- Mimosas + Bagels, cream cheese, and lox with tomato, avocado, and seasoning
- Wine + Chicken parmesan and pasta*
- Whiskey/Bourbon + Steak and mac ‘n’ cheese*
*We should really eat more vegetables.
While soaking in the hot tub Saturday afternoon, we decided to extend our trip another night. The combination of jets, mountains, and utter relaxation was too tempting to give up in a day.
An adolescent Black Bear scrolled by us that same night. Safe on the deck, I had my first real-life encounter with a bear but not my last. The next morning another, smaller Black Bear sat and sunned itself in the yard during our breakfast, making me feel slightly like a Tennessee local.
The important part about this trip is that we were genuinely out. We didn’t talk about COVID, work, or anything stressful. The long weekend out of town recharged us for the days and weeks ahead.
10 out of 10 would recommend
Need ideas on social distancing travel options?
- Cabins and campsites
- National and state parks
- Rent an RV
- Take an all-day road trip
- Your backyard
- Ask a friend to swap homes for a week (cleaned before and after cause sharing is caring but not with viruses)
Have another idea on how to travel safely to help fellow wanderlusts? Let us know in the comment section below.