Monday, June 5, 2017

So, I think I will

break this into to two different blog posts –
One – Gatlinburg is surviving
And Two – The Firefly Lottery –

Let’s go!
We had a quick weekend get-a-way to Gatlinburg this month – 
We’d not been in a couple of years, and certainly not since those terrifying wild fires that tore through the area last year. So – I’ll start by saying the businesses downtown are much the same – almost unscathed, really, 
except for the HUGE loss of a rambling riverside hotel… 
 
It is uncanny how VERY CLOSE these fires got to so many, many businesses. 
And the loss of homes and cabins is almost unbelievable.  
We drove into to town ‘the back way’ though Townsend and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park as we usually do – and saw little fire damage – the green of a very rainy spring and summer has almost overtaken the scars of the fires…  
 We love The Park and love that we can be so completely immersed in God’s creation just minutes from a bustling tourist area. We settled into our 
[first – ha] 
hotel and enjoyed a little quiet time out on the deck near the creek [or river…] 
Again, I love that most hotels have an area near the water that bubbles so loudly you can hardly hear the world out on the strip… After dinner at a favorite place [The Peddler, where we’ve learned to share a meal so we can walk away feeling full, but not over-stuffed; the prime rib is so, so good!!] we walked around a bit, bought some fudge [of course!] and returned to our room where I sat at the table and read 
while Craig watched THE HOCKEY GAME until bed time.
 
Let me stop here and say – this is not a hotel we usually stay at – in fact, I’m not sure we have ever stayed at one – it’s on the lower end of our ‘points’ chain, 
and y’all know we love our points. 
[Truly! We’ve stayed in some wonderful places with those points!
So we decided to go for it. It was only going to be a couple of nights – the room was VERY dated, with a door [and window] that opens to the walkway – 
[And you guys know I don’t stay in ‘open-air’ hotels/motels like this when I travel alone… 
but my sweetheart was with me… so I could live with ‘dated’ 
and it was only for a couple of nights…] 
Cue bedtime: I pulled back the sheets and, OOPS. 
There it was –
 The first bedbug I have ever seen in my life. 
[And I do A LOT of traveling ‘round these parts…over40 nights this year so far - ] 
I’m not sure I really freaked out as much as I was kind of deadly calm and said something, like, “ call the Greystone and see if they have a room.” 
At that point I wasn’t worried about cost, or points, or packing up things at midnight, because, hey, I was already packing. 
I knew I was going somewhere. 
AND THANK HEAVEN WE HAD NOT OUT OUR BAGS ON THE BEDS.
 
 Still, we washed every single thing when we got home 
– and bought this – 
my new traveling companion. 
Funny thing is, the motel clerk did not even protest when we asked for our money back…
I was so happy that Greystone did, in fact, have a room available for us! 
We were up on the top level and honestly could see how very close 
the fires got to our favorite hotel. 
 From our balcony we had a view of the creek [below] and mountains [above] and the new Jimmy Buffett resort being built right next door…
Sadly Gatlinburg is becoming more and more commercialized. 
It was wonderful to sit out on the balcony and read and hear that little creek run through the area – even in the rain.  
Because it rained y’all… 
Off and on much of the time we were in town.  
Still, we were able to enjoy walking the strip, watching the candy-makers put taffy on the machines, and eating fudge [of course.] 
Isn’t that what Gatlinburg’s all about? 
[Oh and pancakes, but I’ll share about those in a moment -] 
But again, sadly, we also saw far too many people who had 
over-enjoyed the latest craze of town – Tennessee Moonshine.
We did a little drive around the by-pass and nature drive the next day and it was incredible to see the fire damage up close and personal. And so random – it reminded me of the tornadoes we have here in the south – there could be six or eight structures burned to the ground and one still standing right in the middle of it all. 
Everything burned to the ground, but a wreath still hanging on a lamp post…
It was also good to see that the people are re-building 
and the plants and animals are surviving –
That evening, after dinner at the nearby Mexican restaurant [that I can never eat at without remembering how very sick young Matt was with food poisoning after eating there back in 2000 or so…]  we went to see The Fireflies. 
– More on that soon! 
[Oh, and No Way Jose’s is a VERY GOOD place to eat – 
we’ve been there many times for delicious food with no problems at all!]
The next morning we decided to venture out to Pigeon Forge, and it was good to see some familiar sites like the old mill…. and outlet stores, and pancake houses, GALORE.
We decided to eat at Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant  and had a delicious breakfast of apple fritters, apple cinnamon muffins, eggs, sausage, bacon , and yes, PANCAKES. 
So delicious – and in such a pretty setting too. 
Although, I still think our waitress was ‘putting on ‘ her southern accent a bit… lol.
It was a treat!
We did a little thrift / discount store shopping before heading home. 
Gatlinburg is always a wonderful weekend get-a-way for us!
 

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