Friday, October 08, 2010 - Christopher Williams picks up my and Christina's girls, Lisa and Nicki, so they can stay with his family for the weekend and he can give his daughter, Lisa, her birthday gift. Thus, giving Christina and me a weekend to ourselves.
So, Saturday morning, October 9, 2010, Christina and I awoke at 5:30 AM, finished packing, put the dog in the backyard with extra food and water, gave the cats extra food and water and set out on our trip. We were off to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We stopped at the Welcome Center at the North Carolina border at 8:30, but they did not open until 9. However, when we reached the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, it was 9:30 AM and they had been open since 8:50. We checked out the visitor center and bought a magnet, then wandered over to the Mountain Farm Museum. We spent almost two hours there. We checked out the buildings, watched them making sorghum molasses, and read all of the signs. It was great fun, but we spent most of our time walking a path down by the creek/river (It was probably the Oconaluftee, but I never really checked) and examining the trees and rocks.
One tree, right at the water’s edge held much of our interest. It had a massive root system with some of the roots arcing out of the surrounding soil and looking like small logs, before plunging back into the earth. The trunk of the tree was too wider for me to reach even half way around and had a branch that struck off to the left, when I was facing the river, which had two limbs growing straight up out of the angled branch. I could easily see a parent setting a child up into either fork, so the child could “ride off into the sunset.” Examining the tree closely, Christina and I came to the conclusion that it was actually three different trees grown together. It was fascinating and even now, it lingers in my mind inspiring me with thoughts and ideas for a setting in D&D game. (Trio of dryad witches...)
We left the Mountain Farm Museum and our tree and headed on to Gatlinburg. The road trip through the mountains was incredible. We stopped at one scenic overlook and were overwhelmed. On the opposite of the road from the overlook the granite and plants on that side of the mountain gave the appearance of face. I could see the eyes, the nose, even individual teeth...I wondered if it were a 4E earth titan sleeping.
We made it to Gatlinburg and drove straight through to Pigeon Forge. We found our motel in Pigeon Forge, the River Lodge South, went and ate at Johnny Corino’s, before returning to our motel to finish checking-in. We then drove back to Gatlinburg. We walked most of the main drag, window shopped, ate a deep-fried Snickers, bought a birthday present for Lisa, rode the Sky Lift, and walked back to the car all in one day. We drove to Sevierville and ended our day out with dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse. It was good to get to the motel and to bed.
Getting woken up, Sunday, October 10, 2010 (10/10/10) an hour before our alarm by a car alarm was slightly annoying, but not devastating. We got packed, watched some of True Hollywood Stories about the Kardashians, and got checked out. We went gem mining at a place in Pigeon Forge and had breakfast at McDonalds. Then we were on the road. We made one wrong turn and went about 50 miles out of way, but we didn’t care.
As were nearing the end of our journey to pick up our girls from Chris and Melinda’s, we saw a brown sign for Carl Sandburg’s House in Flatrock, North Carolina. We went. We walked the path around the lake and up the hillside to the house. It was closed and we walked the shorter easier path back to the visitor center. Reading about his life on the plaques outside the center, after walking the paths around his final home, my heart was strangely touched. I felt that our trip had been capped by two moments out of the past. The Mountain Farm Museum and the Carl Sandburg House were the peaks for me of this trip. I could feel the magic and mystery that moved the people who lived in those lands before the days of cell phones, interstate highways, and internet blogging sites. How powerful, must the night have been to those people living there without electricity or even running water? How could they have walked those paths and not wondered, what lay beyond their sight. Carl Sandburg strove for times of loneliness, so he could “dirty some paper.” Tonight, I’ve striven to “dirty some electrons” and can only hope that I may one day capture the movements of my soul to share with others that resonate with the same calling as I.
Just a final note...Always follow the brown signs; they lead to the best places.