Even though we just went out of town last weekend for a quick overnighter, the wanderlust has hit me big time! All it takes is some nice Fall weather and time. I wish we had more of both. Time is the big thing. While I certainly have plenty of leave, I still want to have enough to take off during the week between Christmas and New Years, so I need to save a little bit.
I was thinking about a trip my wife and I took back in September 2001. It was only a few weeks after 9/11, and Teresa and I had been planning a long weekend down in the Smokies. I recall we were in the midst of a patriotic movement throughout the country, but places like Tennessee had it in spades. There were flags everywhere.
When we reached Sevierville, we saw a log model home, which started my love affair with log homes. I talked Teresa into stopping and walking through it, and I thought it was the coolest home I had ever seen. I told Teresa that we would have one, someday. After checking it out, we stopped at a tourist information center ("trap"), where we were talked into going to a timeshare presentation the following day, and in return we'd get free Dollywood tickets.
We worked our way over the Pigeon Forge, where our hotel was located. It was really nice. It was a chain, but we had a "deluxe" room with a gas fireplace, which would be perfect for the Fall weather. We went to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, where we were selected to participate in a part of the show. I hadn't been feeling well for most of the day (traveler's diarrhea... ugh!), and I barely survived the relay race we were a part of. I remember having to go straight to the restroom after the race, and I missed most of the rest of the show.
The following day, we went to the timeshare development for the presentation we signed up for, and we were assigned to a tour guide. He proceeded to take us over to one of the models to see it. As we walked, the man proceeded to make small talk, asking us where we were from, what we were doing in Tennessee, and weather we had any kids. The conversation turned to the 9/11 tragedy, and he then told us that we wouldn't have to worry about that kind of thing there in Tennessee. He said that there were no "Afghans, Pakistanis, or Iranians around here!" We were totally blown away that he would say such a thing. We do, in fact have many friends of those Nationalities, as the church we attended at the time had representatives from 83 other countries. The man could sense he must have said something wrong. We were no longer the friendly couple he saw a few minutes earlier. We walked through the model home he showed us, we wandered around the grounds a little more, then went back to the sales office. He presented the "offer" they try to get potential customers to consider, and we told him we had no interest. Teresa had been completely silent since his derogatory comment. Finally, he said thanks for going on the tour, then we were handed off to the "manager", who gave us an even better offer. We had no intention of buying, even before the man's comments, and we told the manager why we were angry. The manager acted sympathetic, gave us a line about the other man being new, and then he apologized. We were given our Dollywood tickets, and we left. We spent the rest of the day at Dollywood, which was really nice, and certainly made up for the poor experience at the timeshare place.
The next day, we took a drive into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where we saw lots of wildlife and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The weather continued to be just beautiful. The park was very crowded, and we actually got stuck in a bit of a traffic jam, but that was the only negative. We had a wonderful dinner at the Applewood Farmhouse restaurant to finish the trip. The following day, we drove all the way home.
Every time the weather gets cool, and the smell of Fall reaches my nose, I really want to go back to that area. It is so beautiful there, and aside from a few bigots, it is a wonderful place.
Have a great evening, everyone!