Day 20 - A couple of hours to chill out

Trip Start Aug 28, 2011
Trip End Oct 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Tullai Home
What I did
Travelled from the Smokies to Brentwood

Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, September 16, 2011

Fortunately, the rain stopped overnight, so when we got out of the tent this morning, we did not get soaked…but everything we owned (that wasn't in the car or inside the tent) was. We made the best of it though, and had a great breakfast of Spam and eggs, along with some cocoa and a roaring fire to help keep us warm.  I actually dug into the "winter" clothes we packed for the trip, and pulled out a heavy sweater for myself, and Heather had the girls wear some fleece pants. 

We packed up our stuff and left the campground by 10:00 AM.  We made a pit stop for some last minute essentials at the Sugarlands Visitor Center gift shop – including a postcard that showed what the Smokies look like on a nice day….since we were unable to see it for ourselves.  Kae also got some local honey (complete with a honeycomb which she is very eager to begin chewing) and Lay got a book on the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.”

Before actually leaving the Park boundary, we did come across two more wild turkeys (including a male).  Of course by stopping in the middle of the road, I spooked the birds away from a couple of other tourists…but Heather managed to snap a picture of them (the birds, not the tourists) before they went back to the woods.  That makes five turkeys in all that we saw in the Park – a pretty big number as far as I’m concerned.  No bears for us, but a load of salamanders and turkeys – not bad at all.

It seemed to take forever to get through Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville in order to get to the highway.  Pigeon Forge especially was a mess – they are really gearing up for the “Rod Run” this weekend.  I dig the old cars, but anything combined with the gaudiness of Pigeon Forge is going to make a mess for sure.  We were all pretty happy to put that town in the rearview mirror.  We did manage to make a stop so that Lay could shop for cowgirl boots – close, but no boots today.  We just got to cowboy country, so she still has time to find just the right pair.

Once on the highway, we made good time through Knoxville, and then on through the hills of east Tennessee towards Nashville.  The country really is beautiful – rolling hills as far as the eye can see.  We stopped in Kingston to get some lunch supplies – at the Piggly Wiggly Market!  I’d heard of them, but thought that the name must be a joke or something.  Not the case.  We got our juice, potato salad, bologna, and veggies, and made quick sandwiches right in the parking lot.  Then it was back on the road.

We arrived at my cousin Karen’s home in Brentwood at about 4:00 PM – or so we thought.  Turns out we missed another time zone crossing – so were actually got to Karen’s at 3:00 PM local time.  A nice break for us, but it meant that she was still out running errands.  Oops.  We’ve got to start anticipating these time zones!

Anyway, we had a great visit with Karen, and Kae and Lay played with Karen’s kids (Logan and Summer) in the pool for a couple of hours.  We set up the tent to dry and took some much needed showers.  After a great pizza dinner (love that stuffed crust!) with Karen’s family (including her husband Matt), we headed off for an evening of music at the Grand Ole Opry.  It was really nice, although the establishment definitely caters to the senior circuit nowadays.  I’m sure, at 42 years old, that I was well under the average age for performers and audience members.  Heather and I were hoping that Taylor Swift, who was playing a show at the arena in town tonight and of whom the girls are huge fans, might sneak in for an appearance, but it wasn’t to be.  Still, Montgomery Gentry, a current heavy-hitter in the music world put on a great set, and we also saw a number of other Grammy-winners, chart-toppers, as well as Riders In The Sky, who played “Rawhide.”  Gotta love that.  I think that we were all glad to have gone. 

Back to Karen’s by 10:30 PM and in bed not too much later.  Spending the day in town tomorrow – with an SEC football game (Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss) on the schedule.  Go Commodores!
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