⛰️ I went on walkabout in Gatlinburg to pay for donuts. Here’s what happened next.

stormtrooper 3 feb because gatlinburg
Just a ‘trooper canning Js. On a bridge. In Gatlinburg.

I love to walk.

If it’s within a mile or so, I’m so hoofing it. Unless I’m pressed for time. Or it’s all highway with no sidewalks. Or it’s too cold. Or too hot. Also, only if I have one of my miles-walking pairs of shoes on like I wear to Target.

Last fall, Camdyn had a tournament in beautiful Gatlinburg, Tenn.

I love that place. The forecast was for snow and a low of zero. But it would get up near freezing during the day. Other parents moaned. I secretly wanted to see how Camdyn would play as a block of Camdyn ice.

Luckily, we didn’t have to find out.

It was sunny and in the 70s and beautiful. We ate ribs and stole beer glasses. Just one. We won a tournament and the girls got beanies instead of medals and got to play with majestic mountains as their backdrop.

Here’s the story of the early Sunday morning I had to go pay for donuts in a shop that let us have them on loan the day before because I’d forgotten my wallet.

GT tacos

Right outside our hotel, there was a gringo taco joint. We didn’t go there. We don’t say things like “No way, Jose” because “way” would be pronounced “weh” to rhyme with “Hoh-seh.” Still, tacos. And I liked this sign.

GT river

Also right outside the hotel (I swear, I walked more than a block), there was this nice clear stream. Its flowing waters were perfect for a good night’s sleep. I didn’t have time to linger, because donuts had to be paid for and coffee procured.

GT lights

It’s prettier at night, but this lighted bridge was so serene on Sunday morning. The night before, people in soccer jackets and camo (who was local and who was the tourist?) ambled back and forth between the hotels and chocolate shops.

GT bear

This dude is so Tennessee. A hunter, for sure. Vols fan, for life. Coming around to the Titans. Not much of a Grizzlies fan, although … drives a truck, loves America. Remembers when Gatlinburg had a burger stand and a post office.

GT lamp

Gatlinburg has a bit of a Bavarian feel, and although I’ve never been to Bavaria I kinda like the donuts. It looked all village-y here, so I knew I was getting close to the donut shop. Also probably the Force and aroma of fresh donuts helped.

GT flower

I am a foodie, but even I can stop and smell the flowers, even blocks away from the donut shop. Well, I didn’t smell this one. I don’t even know what it’s called. But it had a pretty purple color that reminded me of my Rockies.

GT chicken

I’m also easily distracted. Doesn’t this chicken look cool? I mean, it could be a logo on a football team’s helmet, if there were any Chickens in the game. Maybe it’s close enough for Virginia Tech.

GT snowman blue

These little dudes are everywhere in Gatlinburg. Kind of like those sea turtles in Charleston. Gives it that hometown feels. We found only about 37 of them. There might be 237.

GT kiss

Not gonna lie. It would have been stellar to find Leslie Mann or at least Laura Thornburgh in here. I had a quarter, too! But that’s the donut shop right behind this sign, so my attention didn’t get diverted too long.

There’s a quirky side to Gatlinburg, too. I could have gone with either of these hats. Which would you vote for? I think one critter made a sacrifice for one hat; the other, just a contribution.

GT friar

Finally – the Donut Friar. Delicious stuff. But when I tried to pay for my Saturday donuts on a Sunday morning, the manager wasn’t too happy. I probably got the dude who extended me credit in trouble.

GT snowman yellow

One more chill character, out on the street. I missed Gatlinburg almost immediately. We had a blast, ate great food, and the girls even went on one of those ski lifts to nowhere. Luckily, they came back.

I’d go back, too.

Thoreau quote nature.png




  1. Kisma says:

    What a fun walk! I could go a donut right now. I tend to get distracted by nature when I’m hiking and have a million pictures of streams and critters and flowers I pass on my journeys. Happy Friday Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was a blast, Tiff. Those donuts were unique, too. I get distracted by nature all the time on the disc golf course. Of course, that’s because I’m usually looking for a disc!

  2. I love that your mission was donuts and you stopped to smell the flowers and see the sights. I think that hat looked like a Davy Crocket hat. I would have chosen that one. Looks like it was a fun trip for you and your girls. Happy weekend to you Eli! 💜🦋

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was kind of a lot of beauty that morning, Michelle. It was definitely a Davy Crockett. The other would have been good for a steampunk party. We had a blast and they won (and also we ate barbecue, could it get any better?)

      1. NO, it couldn’t. I think it sounds like you had a wonderful heart filled time and that’s what matters most!! I wish you many more of those, Eli!

  3. cricketmuse says:

    That purple delight is a pansy—not much fragrance, but a cute little flower.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was pretty cute – glad I didn’t stick my nose in it!

  4. A wonderful walk, and kudos to the nice donut guy who did extend credit. Hope he didn’t get in trouble.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I did appreciate the snack credit, Meems. Let’s hope the boss went easy on him. I was good for it.

  5. beth says:

    what a delightful walk! and how kind/cool of that donut shop to front you the donuts –

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I loved it, in that crisp mountain morning air. Maybe that guy could see how desparate we’d become for sweets and caffeine!

  6. susi_snaps says:

    Sounds like a nice little town with some nice folks. Hope everyone enjoyed the donuts!!! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      We really enjoyed the stay, Susi. Those donuts were unique and I sometimes daydream about them, if I’m honest.

  7. I love that they gave you doughnuts on credit! My husband has family in Johnson City, and when we’re in visiting, we usually take a trip down to Gatlinburg to have fun shopping. Thanks for bringing us along on your walk!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I felt like there was no way I wasn’t going back to pay, Susan! That was … sweet 🍩 . Gatlinburg is a fun place at Christmas, too. Glad you could come along for the walk!

  8. Shared! Bavarian cream powdered donut! My weakness

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Sounds pretty heavenly! I bet that had ’em.

  9. Kelly Curtis says:

    Sounds fun! Thank you for visiting and following my blog. Take care.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Look forward to reading more of your work!

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