Thursday, November, 17, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Mom’s 75th

The Burlesons enjoyed a special celebration last weekend.

We joined the rest of my family in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for my mother’s 75th birthday, an event we had been planning for several months.

We wanted to take her to her favorite vacation spot, that being the Great Smoky Mountains.

Early plans called for my part of the family to leave on Wednesday. That hit a snag when oldest daughter was diagnosed on Tuesday morning with pneumonia.

Then we were not sure if Pam and Emma would even get to make the trip, but we waited until Emma’s follow-up doctor’s appointment Thursday morning, and she received the OK to travel.

It was a long drive, and we lost an hour, going into the Eastern Time Zone.

We celebrated Mother’s birthday Thursday night (November 10) after our late arrival. The party was the highlight of the trip. It included cake, of course, and a new watch as a gift. The weekend was for her, and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some other highlights of the trip included a Friday night visit to Dollywood.

“Wrapped in a dazzling display of over three million lights, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival warms the heart with traditional holiday entertainment featuring the new International Sounds of Christmas,” the promo says.

It was great seeing the spectacular lights and experiencing some “early” Christmas songs.

Erin, our 3-year-old, was in awe.

She also enjoyed a parade, which included lots of animal characters and Santa Claus.

That was right before we boarded the train for a ride up the mountain and an even better look at Dollywood’s beautiful Christmas lights. It was a bit chilly but lots of fun.

Emma and Andy played a lot of miniature golf and rode go-karts and such. They also enjoyed a pool table downstairs in our cabin in Pigeon Forge. The cabin was near plenty of shopping, activities and restaurants.

Saturday morning, Pam, Emma and I took Erin to Boyd’s Bear Country. I was amazed. It was a huge, three-story, bright red barn completely filled with Teddy Bears. I’d never seen anything like it.

There was also entertainment, a restaurant and much more.

Erin adopted a bear from the “baby nursery.” We had to complete adoption papers, and she picked out a name (Angel Elizabeth). She also had to promise to feed her bear honey, play with it and change its diapers.

She also picked out a change of clothing for Angel Elizabeth.

It’s like a new addition to the family. Erin will get the birth certificate later through the mail.

She has a pin which says “I’m a new parent.” I guess that makes Pam and I grandparents now.

We drove “along the strip” Saturday night looking at more Christmas lights (after a delicious seafood dinner).

There are lots of wedding chapels in the Smokies. We saw one advertising drive-through weddings for $79. There was a drive-through window, just like the ones at fast food restaurants.

Traffic was terrible for the most part. First, it took us an hour to get through Chattanooga on the interstate during rush hour (5:30 p.m.) on Thursday.

Then “the strip” in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge was bumper-to-bumper on both Friday and Saturday. Some of us went to a knife/gun store Saturday only a short distance from our cabin, and it took us an hour to drive back.

We headed home Sunday, basically an all-day trek.

The trip was great. Too quick perhaps, but most importantly, Lavelle Burleson deserved it. She’s the best of moms, and we all love her and appreciate her very much.

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