I wanted to take this time and use my first blog post to introduce myself and my family to you. I’m Sarah, my husband is Chris, we have 3 beautiful girls, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 hamster and 5 ferrets! Our furry friends outnumber the people in our family! I’m going to share with you “Our Journey” from our first visit to Gatlinburg to present day.
Our first visits and Roaring Fork
The first time I visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was in 1992, on my very first family vacation at the age of 13. I fell in love with the mountains. I fell further in love on my second trip, when Chris and I spent our short honeymoon in Gatlinburg in 2006. While Chris and I were there, we talked about how we should buy a cabin some day. I cemented my love for Gatlinburg after spending a rained out “camping trip” (spent in rental cabins) with my little brother Sean.
As time passed, we started our family. We had our first daughter, and did most of our traveling to visit family . After having our youngest daughter, we visited again, and, yet again, spoke about buying, only this time just a few months after Chris showed me the listing for Roaring Fork Lodge. It was beautiful, and we made the decision to buy it. Me, an Army veteran with no other work experience, and Chris, previously a produce manager for Winn Dixie, had grown our first small business large enough to buy our own cabin in the mountains. Little did we know, the was the first step on the path to our second small business.
Purchasing the cabin went smoothly enough, and after a short time, and a little red tape, it was finally ours! I was amazed with the view from Roaring Fork’s deck, and even the cabin itself was breathtaking. After enjoying it for ourselves, we spent months after the purchase getting it ready to share with all of you. It didn’t take much, just some cleaning and a few safety musts.
Roaring Fork, our beloved home away from home, was doing so well we decided to buy a second cabin, Bella Vista. The view at Bella was spectacular, CHECK THAT OUT!! I took this photo with my iPhone. I had nothing to do with it of course, the beauty was provided for me. Chris and I had made it happen. Not one property but two. I loved both cabins and loved sharing my special places with all of you.
Still riding high on our latest purchase, and setting Bella Vista up for rentals, tragedy struck. The Gatlinburg Wildfires took both of our beloved properties. I have a separate post, “How the Gatlinburg Wild Fires Affected Us” if you would like to read our story.
As we began planning the rebuilds and waited for things to start moving, we decided we needed a headquarters during the rebuilds, and a place to continue doing what we loved to do. We found Star Dancer in 2017.
Star Dancer was in great shape. The previous owner took very good care of the home and his guests. It was ready to go after some repairs from wind damage caused by the storms that spread the wildfires.
Once back in shape, Star Dancer did not disappoint! I was floored by an even better mountain view. The previous owner explained to me from the deck you can see the mountains in North Carolina all the way left, and all the way to the right was Mt. Leconte, the tallest mountain in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Laurel Creek Hideaway
Laurel Creek came into the picture because Chris gets an itch every few years and sends me a cabin listing…he is always ready to buy once I get the listing. This property was an easy decision for me. It does not have a mountain view, but it has its own special feature. The creek! The creek was completely hidden when we viewed the listing. When we viewed the actual property it was the first thing I heard and went to. Immediately I envisioned the bridge and picnic area. I go into the creek barefoot every time I’m there, no matter the temperature. You can hear the creek running by from the bottom bedroom closest to it. On days it rains, it’s louder and on days it pours you can stand outside and hear the rocks tumbling under the rush of water.
Laurel Creek (formally known as Lion’s Den) was in desperate need of some love when we finally got it. We worked hard to get it ready. We had the exterior freshly stained, new deck posts installed for stability, we couldn’t have anyone falling off the deck! The creek was completely grown over, so we had brush cleared and the creek opened up. A split rail fence was added along the driveway and a bridge across the creek leading to a picnic area with grills and a fire pit.
We had the entire main floor refinished and added new living room furniture. We bought new arcade games for the bunk room and game room floor. The kitchen was restocked with new supplies and appliances. We replaced the washer and dryer and even removed the flying squirrels from the attic….and the bats. As much as we like critters we couldn’t let them live with all of you. No animals were harmed in this process! We called in professionals and they blocked all entrances except one, caught the exiting animals in a trap and released them. The experts permanently blocked all holes/entrances and trimmed away any branches that could be used to get to the roof.
Laurel has a special place with me simply because of all the work we put into it. It is our largest cabin, sleeping up to 22. It is nestled in the woods in a secluded area, with its own creek and picnic spot.
Smoky Mountain Sunrise
Smoky Mountain Sunrise is our most recent purchase. It is not a traditional style log cabin. The exterior is masonite siding, which I wasn’t too sure about at first. It was different. It was a brand new home. The owners had just rebuilt after losing the original home to the wildfire. Once I arrived in one piece after the steep driveway accent, and saw the care and love that had been put into this rebuild I started to feel differently, despite my initial hesitations. The view didn’t hinder my decision in any way.
A Small Description
The exterior has been landscaped with a huge flagstone stair case and fire pit. The interior is beautifully done in dark flooring with accents on the walls and ceilings to compliment them. The two car garage is great when coming in at night, you never know if a bear will decide to say hello. For me it feels safer all the way around.
When purchasing Smoky, one piece of information was not in the signing documents. The bear traffic at this place is crazy! We have watched a family of 5 grow up on our security cameras. Mama Bear and her 4 cubs have used the drive way as a path since the spring. There have been multiple sitings of a rather large guy just passing through, and even a frisky juvenile trying his luck at our empty ice chest on the deck.
During one visit I decided to get up before everyone and see if I could catch a glimpse of a bear just passing through. I waited on the deck for almost 2 hours starting at dawn. I finally gave up and cut my losses. Not 3 minutes later, the juvenile bear was on the deck and walked right to the chair I had been sitting in! We met eyes at the same time and freaked! I grabbed the camera and he tight rope walked the deck rail and climbed down the post. You can see the video here.
Bears are great to watch from a distance, but always stay a smart distance and NEVER leave food or trash out for the bears. If they relate humans to food it only hurts the bears. A fed bear is a dead bear. Read more in my soon to come Bear Talk post.
Summing it up
Chris and I love sharing our spaces with you, and we try our best to make it feel like home away from home for our guests. We truly hope all of you can make wonderful memories and hope that you share them with us on our Facebook Page. We are very grateful for each and every one of you, we couldn’t do what we love to do without you all.
Happy and safe travels,