Monday, July 6, 2015

Wow! We sure packed a lot into our 4th of July weekend!

[And I hope you had a great time celebrating too!]
 These last few years we’ve mostly hung out at home – not planning anything special and waiting until the last minute to go get ice cream and find some fireworks – 
 [Last year we ended up seeing Madison’s / Space Center’s / Huntsville’s shows all within minutes of each other.  And all without getting into the crowds and traffic – lol.]
But this year Craig pulled together a special family time for his mother… for years his parents went to Gatlinburg to attend the midnight parade – billed as the FIRST fourth of July parade in the nation since it starts at 12:01 on July 4th
So he got to work and we managed to have 13 family members meet for the weekend. 
[And we surely missed those who couldn’t join us!!] 
We gathered together at the Greystone Lodge in the heart of the city and all met for a late dinner Thursday evening… Love the balconies on this hotel that overlook a creek – 
When the door is open all you hear is the babbling creek – 
even though the highway is just steps away.

And on Friday morning we got our chairs out early – per tradition – 
and then stopped by a handy candy shop and picked up a caramel apple for breakfast 
[I mean… why not?
There was a bear outside inviting me in...] 
Then some of us shopped out in Pigeon Forge while others hiked up [and down!] 
Mt. Le Conte. 
In one day. 
[I know I couldn’t do it…]
 That evening we shopped some more in Gatlinburg – and even though there’s been some changes in the shops in recent years – there’s still enough of the staples [taffy – wind chimes – candy corn – walking sticks – fudge – pancakes – stuffed bears – wood carvings – quilts – t shirts – etc.] to feel like it’s always been the same. 
It was soon time to get ready for the parade... 
Since we'd eaten a big meal for lunch [Johnny Carrino's] we grabbed a quick sandwich at Subway
 and we gathered up around 10:30;
 and yes, our chairs were SOAKED,
 But they were still there - 
It really is kind of neat how no one bothers the chairs 
that people put out as early as 6:30 a.m 
We did it too.]
  We had garbage bags to put down to sit on --- 
 and umbrellas [- thanks sweetheart!]
We weren’t going to let a little rain stop us from enjoying the evening!
 And it really was a nice parade with lighted floats – tributes to all of the military –
 bands – and of course the shriners in their little cars…  
And honestly - I've never seen so many Uncles Sams in one place...
After the parade we headed straight to bed because Craig had made reservations for him and our boys to do some fly fishing early the next morning…
  And even though the water was HIGH because of all the rain – 
I still think they had a great time together.
 I went along to play with my camera a bit – and was kinda, sorta, hoping we might see a bear… but all I was saw was tracks and poop [I know - TMI.] 
I love that we can be SO CLOSE to civilization and yet it feels so far away 
once you get into the trails outside of the city….
And yes. They all caught a few – tiny ones – but with the water like it was that was just about as good as it was going to get.
[Photo Cred: Kat Gorney]
That evening we all gathered together at The Peddler where 
Gr-Mother treated us to a special meal. 
It’s always outstanding. 
[We ate there on our honeymoon over 30 years ago – cool.]
We enjoyed taking a few [?] family photos 
 Then we headed back to the hotel so we could be ready to hear 
the army concert at the aquarium [just across the street -]
 We put our chairs out by our cars and gathered up at nine to visit while listening to music prior to the Fireworks Show.
  And it didn’t disappoint. 
We were so close it almost seemed they were shooting them off the back of our hotel – lol. 
[GREAT job on the hotel sweetie!]
And then of course, the next day we ended our time together with breakfast at the Pancake Cabin [Log Cabin Pancakes - ?]
 Because you just can’t go to Gatlinburg without eating pancakes at least once. We like this place because it’s off the main drag and has its own parking lot.
With our family spread out -- so much – four states -  in seven cities I think it was very nice to have some extended time together. Gatlinburg was a wonderful destination for a family trip – it has enough to do [inside and outside of town] so that every person can find something they enjoy and plenty of restaurants to gather together for family meals.
 And while I enjoyed meals together so much it’s not always easy to visit with everyone [even if we’re all at the same table] without shouting down the row… so the times when we were waiting were some of the best for me – waiting for a table at Jose’s  – waiting for the parade – and especially when we were just visiting while waiting on the fireworks. 
I enjoyed those times of just ‘being’ together the most of all –
  It was a great weekend – I’m exhausted – 
and I ate WAAAAAAYYYY too much --- 
so I’ve got to get back on track this week. 
Happy July everyone!

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