Thursday, June 13, 2013
Trip to mountains
I escaped four days last week for a special vacation.
Several months ago, my sister Gayla and brother-in-law Roger had worked out a time to take my daughter Erin to the Smoky Mountains, with my mother accompanying.
A few weeks later I began to think, “Hey, I might just try to go, too.”
As it got closer to the date and at the urging of my wife, saying I needed a break from the newspaper grind, I was able to weasel my way into the four-day adventure.
When Erin and I arrived at my mom’s house early Tuesday morning of last week, I was beginning to wonder if my invitation was going to stick. We had to pack our luggage into Roger and Gayla’s vehicle rather tightly.
We made few stops on the way and rolled into Pigeon Forge just past check-in time. The drive into the mountains of Tennessee is always one of the best parts – beautiful and soothing to the soul.
We enjoyed an early dinner, visited a few shops and that evening went to a show adjacent to our condominium. “Country Tonite” turned out be one of our favorites of the trip. The entertainment ranged from country legends to today’s hits – even a tribute to George Jones, who was my mom’s favorite. I’m not sure how many of you remember “Hee Haw,” but the singers relived those days, too.
The highlight of Wednesday was our slow ride through Cades Cove – a valley surrounded by mountains and one of the popular destinations in the Great Smokies.
The goal there is to see as much wildlife as possible – particularly bears. Erin kept track. We saw six turkeys, 10 deer and six bears, plus a few other animals. My sister and her husband have visited Cades Cove many more times than me. Roger said one of the bears, which I spotted in the woods from the passenger side of the vehicle, was the biggest he’s seen there.
My mistake was not taking my Nikon camera from my office with the zoom lense. But we still got a few good photos from Cades Cove.
That night we attended Bible study at the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ. As usual, there were lots of other visitors – including several from Mississippi, like Booneville and Fulton.
Thursday, after breakfast, we played a round of putt-putt golf. I’m obviously not a morning golfer. Gayla won.
Then they dropped me off at Smokies Park, home of the Tennessee Smokies, while they did some shopping. The team plays in the Southern League and is a Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
The Smokies’ opponent for the afternoon game was the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals. The Smokies had a not-so-good day. They got smoked, 5-0, but as usual, I enjoyed my visit to another ball park. And the hot dog was OK, too. My only souvenir from the trip was a Smokies baseball cap.
Later Thursday, we walked the streets of downtown Gatlinburg and then returned to Pigeon Forge for another game of putt-putt golf, at a different course. I’m obviously not an evening golfer, however, this time I finished second, behind Roger.
We squeezed in other activities during the stay, too.
We left the mountains Friday and stopped at a huge flea market and took a detour in Alabama to Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro.
The first day of the trip, Erin said, “Daddy, I’m glad you came.”
I knew then I had made the right decision. It was great.
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