Thursday, August 30, 2007
a little r and r
We're home. We had a fantastic and gloriously relaxing time on our little jaunt. First, we saw C
(and A, M, and D) in Asheville, where we got a chance to sample some of D's fine brewmaking capabilities at the French Broad Brewery. We bought a growler of the Watershed Boch to enjoy once we got to Tennessee. Every drop was delicious. I highly recommend a trip to French Broad if you're ever passing through Asheville. After a delicious breakfast at Sunny Point on Sunday, we hit the road again.
We got to Gatlinburg around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and then wound our way up a seriously sketchy road to our cabin. While I was inside whirling up some dinner for all of us, M and S saw a bear cub nosing through the neighbor's trash. They startled it, and it ran away before we got any pics. Bummer...and we had no more encounters with bears during the trip, which is not a bummer.
After S's morning nap on Monday, we headed into the park. We did the little walk up to Laurel Falls and also a little paved Nature Trail that was nearby and ran along a really pretty stream (a stream that prompted M to seriously and giddily utter the following statement: "I hear the sounds of fluvial geomorphology"). S got a ride in a baby backpack for the "hike" up to Laurel Falls, but she cruised in the stroller for the Nature Trail. She really liked the backpack, but she'd had enough of being strapped in by the end of the second excursion. We headed back to the cabin for her afternoon nap, and then went "into town" after that. Not much to see in Gatlinburg if you're not into pancakes, "old time" photos, or mini golf. We just walked around and got a peach smoothie.
Tuesday morning, we headed up to Clingman's Dome, but it started raining as soon as we made it to the parking lot, which was about a 35 minute drive into the park. I wasn't about to lug my baby to the very highest point in the state in a storm, so we didn't go to the observation tower. By the time we got back down to the Newfound Gap parking lot, though, it had cleared up a bit, so we got out of the car and had a little look around and a picnic. S fell asleep, so we drove around for awhile...on something called a Motor Nature Trail. M and I both felt like total idiots...roughing it from the comfort of our air-conditioned vehicle. Then again, the baby was napping peacefully, so we didn't really mind.
She awoke from her nap just as we finished our car hike, so we went to the aquarium, which was pretty cool. A huge chunk of it is "underwater," so you feel like the sharks are swimming around over your head. The "Shark Lagoon" pretty much made the trip to the aquarium worth the forty bucks we spent on the tickets. We went into Pigeon Forge (crappiest place ever) for dinner because neither of us had ever been there...and it is the home of Dollywood, you know. Also, it was the "big day,"so I excused myself from cooking dinner. I turned 28 on the 28th this year. We went to the Smoky Mountain Brewery for dinner, and it was a substantial disappointment.
Anyway...Wednesday we headed into the park again. We did the Gatlinburg Trail, which was a four mile walk through the woods. It was flat and easy, and S really liked watching the trees fluttering in the breeze and hearing the river that wound around us the whole time. It was a nice, relaxing way to wrap up the trip. We spent the rest of the day pretty much holed up in the cabin, playing with S.
Today, we went through Knoxville on the way home to see my brother. Today was his birthday, so we took him to lunch. Plus, we got to see his new digs, which were impressively clean considering three 22-year-old boys live there.
Now we're home and we've already wrested one dead bird from Otis. It's so nice to be back. Later, folks. Lots of pics on Flickr.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention...the grocery store in Gatlinburg had the coolest thing. It was a "Pick-A-Six-Pack." They had empty cardboard six-pack holders and a pretty impressive array of single beers. You could pick whatever you wanted and a six pack was only nine bucks. It was like shopping for Christmas presents. We both chose a few of our favorites, but we also each tried new things. M tried a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, a Shiner Hefeweizen, a Pyramid Apricot Ale, and a Highland Gaelic Ale. (He also had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a Red Stripe). I tried, in addition to the Shiner Bock I was incapable of resisting, a Sam Adams Black Lager, a Pete's Wicked Ale, a Redhook Late Autumn Harvest, a Stella Artois (which was double nasty gross), and a Sierra Nevada Porter (which I still don't like, but wanted to try again anyway). It was a great beer vacation. Great, great beer.