Smoky Mountain High

It’s great to be home; though we had a wonderful weekend in Tennessee, coming home was one of my favorite parts! We had a great time and saw some gorgeous sights, and one really ugly one. Going to Tennessee for just three days is usually really hard because Jim’s parents AND my parents live there, and my good friend Kate (and her hubby and Bean) live there. We spend the entire time we’re there trying to make sure that we spend equal time with each set of parents, and squeeze a too-short visit with Kate and her family in there somewhere. It’s actually quite stressful because we are always trying to avoid offending somebody or the other. This time the weekend seemed more relaxed, though, which is great.

On Friday night we went to dinner to celebrate my dad’s birthday. On the way home, we stopped at a great ice cream place near my parents’ house (Bruster’s) to get an ice cream cake. I got out of the car to purchase the cake, knowing that my dad really likes the double chocolate chunk cake. As it turned out, the only one they had in that flavor had bright pink and blue decorations on it. It looked more like a cake for a punk baby shower but since it was the right flavor I had to get it. I asked the guy at the counter to write “Happy Birthday Grandpa” on it.

It was clear to me when I got the cake back that I forgot I was dealing with a teenaged boy who has no sense of style or color matching: he wrote it with RED icing. Ick? I know, I know, the colors of the cake didn’t matter when it came to the taste but boy was that cake UGLY! Need proof?

PC220802 But he liked it anyway, and of course it DID taste delicious.

PC220805 On Saturday we woke early to head over to Jim’s parents’ house and left shortly after we arrived for a day in the Smoky Mountains. We went to Cades Cove first, for breakfast. The boys were helping Grandpa start a fire so Grandma could cook breakfast and were absolutely horrified–as Boy Scouts–when Grandpa pulled out the bottle of lighter fluid. Check out their faces as they watch Grandpa haphazardly build a “fire.”

PC230806 Grandma needed a second fire built, so when Grandpa went to collect pine cones, the boys hid the lighter fluid…

PC230812 …and successfully built a Boy Scout-worthy fire without it.

PC230814 After a great breakfast, we decided to drive the 11-mile scenic loop around the Cove. The leaf colors are changing and the mountains look spectacular, even though the color “peak” isn’t supposed to be for another week yet. The boys took turns taking photos from the backseat.

PC230824 We got this lovely family photo at one stop.

PC230869 After a couple of hours of driving around and stopping off at a couple of historical buildings to check them out, we went to my absolute favorite place in the mountains, the Chimneys.

PC230899 It’s a picnic area that is situated right on the river, and there are huge rocks to climb if you’re adventurous. The sound of the water rushing through the rocks is music to my ears, and can be heard here, until Jim accidentally messed up my little movie by telling me what time it is.

He’s still cute, though. I’ll keep him.

PC230902 It was after seeing this photo that I decided to cut a couple inches off my hair next week. Ick.

PC230903 The boys enjoyed posing. Here is the older one with that goofy “macho man” pose that he likes so much:

PC230906 And the younger one? My thinker.

PC230909 I think this will be our holiday card photo!

PC230911 Oh. I forgot to mention something. On Saturday morning I put ZERO thought into my footwear. I totally forgot that I’d be walking up mountains and on rocks for most of the day. Look at this tragic choice of footwear, 2/$5 flipflops from Old Navy:

PC230923 I ended up taking off the flip-flops for walking on the rocks, but that made the situation all the more hazardous because wet feet + rocks = major slippage. But I made it. After the Chimneys we headed up the mountain to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the Tennessee Smokies. On a clear day you can see seven states from there. The colors up there were beyond gorgeous.

PC230932 I had never been to Clingman’s Dome in all the years I lived in Knoxville, so this was going to be exciting for me. Well, not for my feet. But the rest of me was thrilled.

Until we got up to the parking lot. I thought once we got to the parking lot, we were there. But I was wrong. You see, from the parking lot there is a half mile hike practically straight up the mountain to get to the *real* top. I looked down at my feet and wondered how that was going to feel.

And then we set off walking on the steep incline, which was paved. You can’t see it very well in this photo; I was trying to show you how steep it is. Humor me and tell me that you can see how god-awful it is.

PC230954 I was completely surprised and depressed that as we walked on, I was really sucking air. I have never felt so unfit in my life, even when I was unfit. We had to stop twice on the way up so I could catch my breath. (The good news is, when I was telling my boss about it at the health club today, she asked me how fast I recovered and when I told her that I only had to sit for about a minute before feeling ready to continue, she told me that it was more the altitude that was bothering me and not a lack of fitness. I love her.)

Once at the top we arrived at this pretty cool-looking concrete lookout tower, where the views were amazing.

PC230938 On the way down, I said “Screw the flip flops” and took them off, walking down the mountain barefoot. (Hillbilly here I come! Devilish Southern Belle: you don’t walk around mountains barefoot, do you?)

PC230949 Took a few fabulous photos, and we were on our way home! What a great day!

PC230956 By the way, I took some footage of driving the curves of the mountains. You’ll have to turn the sound down, because I literally stuck my camera out the roof of Jim’s truck to film it.

And now? I’m home. And exhausted. And behind on everything. But I’ll catch up…I hope! Hope you enjoyed my little 3-hour tour!


  • Mags

    Aw! Your parents are super cute. 🙂 You have such a beautiful family-I love the look on the boys’ faces near the fire too.

    I’m glad you had fun and that this time was more relaxing.

  • Dea

    First – the breathing – it’s called altitude – you’re NOT out of shape, good gravy! LOL!

    Second – I think you need glasses, I think you look cute in the pic – your hair is cute! BUT, I can relate to needing a change (oy, vey, can I ever) so I say, go for fun and flirty!!!

    Third – BAD BAD BAD girl on the shoes…

    Fourth – that cake SO need to be submitted to Cake Wrecks! LOL!

  • Sue

    Love the family picture! Maybe you should use that as your holiday card? I do like the one of the boys by the stream, too. That must be exhausting to go home and fit all those people into the “tour”. At least you got to celebrate dad’s birthday with a delicious sounding cake! Yummy! Thanks for the recap!

  • Michelle

    Bummer on the cake. I’ve learned to request no red and no blue icing on my cakes (I’m weird — all I can taste is the bitter flavor in the ingredient used to make it that color), but hey… at lesat it was unique!

    Happy birthday to your dad! And way fun trip… as quick as it was.

    The faces? Priceless. I love the fact that the boys built a real fire and it worked 🙂

  • k a t i e

    It all looks beautiful – and gosh, those boys are growing fast! (good work hiding the lighter fluid, too!)

  • Kim M.

    “It’s 2:30” ha ha!
    I love the Chimneys! I just missed you… I was one state over on the other side of the mountains in Asheville this past weekend. Hey, did you grow up with BoJangles (sp?) my fiance loves that fast food place and has gotten me addicted to “bo rounds”…mmmmmmm welcome home.
    weather kim in dc

  • Andie

    I love it up there. we went up there for the first week in November a few years ago and JUST missed the color.

    One of these days, I’m going to be there for the colors.

    I’ve done that tour through cades cove, too! 🙂
    how far of a drive is it for you guys to get there?

  • Weaselmomma

    Sounds like you had a great time and definitely some beautiful views. I’m not on the hillbilly bandwagon, but a great little get a way you had there.

  • Sarah Clapp

    I think you and your husband need to be in your holiday card too. 🙂
    But that is a wonderful picture of your boys. They look like you!

    I love how you walked up the mountain in your flip-flops. You’re a total stud!

  • abritdifferent

    Hello, it’s me. I know. I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. It’s not you, it’s not me — it was bloglines. Everything has been messed up for over 4 weeks. I can’t go back to clicking through blogs one at a time like I used to, so I gave up bloglines today and went with google reader. Basically, I’M BACK!

    Great shots! I think you would totally rock a long fringe/bangs, justunder your eyebrows or longer. Loved the story too. I’m so sorry I haven’t been around.