Saturday, August 4, 2012
A Family Visit
My parents are visiting with us this weekend. It was somewhat of a surprise. Of course, they’re welcome anytime, but I didn’t think they were coming until September. I did get one day notice and was frantic on Thursday trying to prepare for company. They have come to Maryville, Townsend, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park many, many times over the years, so nothing we did was new to them. Still, it was fun to revisit all the familiar places again.
We spent the better part of one day driving around in the Park. We weren’t very lucky with the views because of heavy cloud cover and threatening rain. Everything around Clingmans Dome was in a shroud of cloud. There were no views at all. You never know what the weather will be like at the Dome, so if you’re in the Park, you take a chance and drive up hoping for a view. When we got there, despite the threatening weather conditions, the parking lot was packed. With no views to occupy our time, we did the next best thing--browse around the gift shop. My parents are past the age where they are able to do much walking, so hiking the half mile to the observation tower was not on our list of things to do.
On our way back down the mountain, we stopped at Newfound Gap. By the time we got there, the clouds had lifted some and we could actually see something besides fog. This parking lot was nearly full, as well. We’re looking forward to September when the vacation crowd thins out a bit.
We had our picnic lunch, of course. My mother is the one who taught me to always take a picnic regardless of the weather. So, with storm clouds brewing, I packed the picnic basket. As we sat in the car at Chimneys Picnic area and ate our lunch and watched the rain, we discussed some of the more memorable picnics during my lifetime. My dad and I both agreed it was a toss up between the ice storm somewhere in Georgia one year when we were on our way to Florida and the wind storm in Ontario the year we were going to Niagara Falls.
During the course of their visit, we also made a trip to Pigeon Forge. As a rule, I try to avoid both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. These gateway communities to the Smokies are geared to the tourist and are just too crowded for my taste. Besides, I’m not much of a shopper and I’d far rather have a picnic in the park than eat in a crowded, noisy restaurant. However, my mother is a shopper and was delighted to just “stop by Pigeon Forge for a few minutes”. We haven’t been to Pigeon Forge in a several years, and were surprised to find many of the outlet stores closed. Gene asked about so many shops being out of business and the clerk told him that business has been going downhill for several years now and that this summer has been the worst so far. Even though I don’t like to go there myself, that news was a little sad to hear.
We also went to Gatlinburg. I don’t like going there, but it’s because of the traffic. I sorta enjoy just walking around sampling fudge, watching the people, and browsing some of the higher end shops. Since the traffic is always so horrific, I usually try to avoid Gatlinburg at all costs. Mother, however, wanted to eat at Bubba Gumps. Gene and I have never eaten there so were anxious to check it out. In our opinion, the shrimp was good, but not outstanding. It was a fun place to eat, though, and we’ll probably take other guests there in the future.
We’ve also done plenty of sitting at home, drinking coffee, eating, and talking. From the looks of my refrigerator we’ve got plenty of eating to do yet. Needless to say, this has been a very busy weekend.
That’s my story for today. Thanks for tagging along.