Tennessee Road Trip
Last week I had the opportunity to take a road trip to Tennessee. It was a combo business/pleasure trip.
When we launched "Of These Mountains" 16 months ago, it was intended as a celebration of the mountains that give us life. The mountains that we are fortunate to live amidst provide our commerce, our recreation, our landscape, and our heritage. These mountains have given us a way of life that should be celebrated, hence our reasoning for the creation of our brand.... "Of These Mountains."
As the brand has grown, we have been fortunate to see our t-shirts, hats and stickers pop-up around the country and even in foreign countries. It has been incredibly rewarding to see people embrace our products, enjoy the designs, and celebrate our mountain home. It has also allowed us to explore expansion. In addition to two locations in Georgia, we are now also sold in Highlands, North Carolina, with more sites on the horizon!
With this growth, Tennessee has become an obvious market for us to explore.... so the road trip was planned! Driving through the mountains into Tennessee was beautiful. New scenery is always good for the soul and this trip provided just the injection of new sites and sounds that I needed.
It's funny, how we live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but sometimes we take for granted just how majestic it is. These new mountain vistas, winding roads and flowing rivers provided a fresh perspective on just how important a celebration "Of These Mountains" really is.
Day One brought me to Chattanooga, a quaint city with a nice combination of historic buildings and cosmopolitan 21st-century vision.
Located along the banks of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga is a young and vibrant community with an awesome aquarium, eclectic neighborhoods, and delicious restaurants. A series of bridges, both pedestrian and roadway, span the river and tie together a unique town that is worth the visit, a town that successfully mixes the old and new.
Traveling east through the mountains of Tennessee brought me to Gatlinburg /Pigeon Forge for days 2 and 3 of my road trip. The winding mountain highways lent themselves to beautiful scenery, the rolling hills and mountain peaks along the way inspiring all that "Of These Mountains" can be.
The last time I was in Gatlinburg I was a small child on a vacation with my grandparents. The bustling downtown hasn't changed a lot, with stores and attractions lining "the strip" and the Gatlinburg Space Needle centering town.
While "the strip" is reminiscent of my youth, there are new attractions along the way, an aquarium, new destination shops and Gatlinburg's newest addition, The Gatlinburg SkyBridge.
Walking along the streets of Gatlinburg, I was struck by the mix of tourists making their way from point to point. A melting pot of humanity can be found in Gatlinburg, putting an exclamation point of the appeal of the mountains we love.
Gatlinburg gets it right with their welcome to tourists. Festive holiday decor, scarecrows, and pumpkin displays can be found on every corner and light post, Fall is a great time to visit and I can't wait to go back during the Christmas season to see what's next.
While Gatlinburg's charm is reminiscent of days gone by, Pigeon Forge is shiny and new. I had never been to Pigeon Forge, it reminds me a lot of Orlando, FL with numerous tourist destinations, shows, and outlet malls. But the highlight of my trip there was "The Island," a mixed-use development of shopping and entertainment.
"The Island" is centered by a beautiful fountain with dancing waters and "The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel" which gives riders expansive views of the magnificent mountains that surround this community.
At The Island, you will find awesome shopping and tasty food options, but if you want, spending some time sitting around the fountain provides great people-watching opportunities.
The final day of my trip was a drive through the Great Smoky Mountains Parkway. The God created views provided along this drive are some of the most beautiful you will ever find. With numerous pull-off photo opportunities, the winding road up and down the mountains is spectacular and enforces everything we wanted to celebrate when creating "Of These Mountains."
Another one of my favorite parts of the trip was being able to share our brand. All along the way, I dropped off "Easter Egg" packages filled with "Of These Mountains" t-shirts and stickers. They were left at look-off points, along "The Strip," on a busy pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River and adjacent to the dancing waters of "The Island." Sharing our love of the mountains is our goal and when we can put our products in the hands of others who share those same interests we couldn't be happier.
As I drove through the mountains towards home, I couldn't help but think about our product and how important our goal of celebrating all that "Of These Mountains" really is.
Watching people of every shape, size, and color, from nations far and wide standing in awe at the majesty we enjoy every day brought us all together. The commonality that we all enjoy as we celebrated our mountain topography made me realize we are on the right track, a celebration of the life, recreation, commerce and heritage provided "Of These Mountains."
The "Of These Mountains" brand is available online at www.ofthesemountains.com or in select retailers. If you know a store that should carry "Of These Mountains," please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to carry our vision and message to others!