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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Fall 2013

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the first national park we have visited. This was a 3 day trip during the Labour day weekend. We rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN for three nights. The drive from Ann Arbor takes about 9 hours, so it is a long road trip. We left Ann Arbor on Friday, Aug 30th, and drove to Gatlinburg and got settled in our cabin and relaxed for the night.
Day-1: Saturday morning, we packed our bags and left early to Trillium Gap trail head to hike Grotto Falls. It is an easy to moderate hike with over 500ft gain in elevation and takes a couple of hours. Along the trail, we saw some recent bear activity (that doesn't make a pretty picture!). At the end of the trail is a beautiful falls. The best part about the falls is that you can walk behind it. The water collects in a small pool at the foot of the falls and you see lots of tiny salamanders in and around the water.
As soon as we got back to our car, we had lunch and headed straight to a place called Newf…

Holland, MI - Summer 2013

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Holland, MI is about 2.5 hrs away form Ann Arbor. It is a popular tourist destination in May because of the Tulip Festival. The weather was good and we wanted to go to some beach and so, we picked Holland. We started late from Ann Arbor and reached Holland by late afternoon. Our first stop was Windmill Island.
The windmill is over 250 years old and is the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States. We reached in time for a demonstration. It was interesting to learn the history and see the workings of the windmill. We were also able to see the surrounding scenery from the 4th floor and the island looked quite beautiful even in summer.
Our next stop was the Dutch village. By that time unfortunately, it was closed. It closes by 5 PM on regular days. So, we went to the Holland harbor to relax on the beach. There is a beautiful lighthouse at this beach know as the Big Red. We played for a while on the beach. The water was very cold even though this was August.
We wanted to…