Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains, TN

James' 70th ... part 1: celebrating with his siblings ... part 2: celebrating with his children!!!

Since I have already been scolded that no blog is up yet, I will try to hurry to do it ... but of course, Helen already beat me to it with her blog. I hope I can do it half as well.
Here is her account of it! 

It was a wonderful fun-filled time. But one thing at a time.

Tuesday October 23

James and I left not quite as early as we usually do because the drive was not quite as long as to Nashville, but we had to really think what to pack. What did the rented cabin NOT have but we would need ... or like to have.

But look at the lovely autumn colors! James took this photo.
He also took this one when we stopped for the lunch break.
First ones to arrive at the cabin. What a view from the balcony. 
James' picture is even better.
We had stopped at the agent first and got this map to find the cabin "#55 Blue Smoke".

We took this photo and texted it to Helen and Sarah so they would have the directions too.
Finally Helen, Ben and William arrived too. The directions sent them astray because the caution light, which had blinked when we drove the road earlier, had been turned off.
After dinner we went into the basement, the playroom. William found a new game. Take the snooker balls ...
... and put them into the holes.

He could have played it forever I think.
Here is a video!

Wednesday October 24

Breakfast time. Omi brought her VitaMix machine and whipped up her usual with apples, carrots, prunes and oats. William really likes it too.
Since the traffic is so bad in Gatlinburg, we decide on a hike on our side of town. It had to be suitable for the stroller and was a very good choice along the Little Pigeon River.
Ben did most of the uphill pushing. James helped. Helen and I volunteered to do the downhill pushing. 

Several times we came very close to the river and stopped to investigate. Ben and William went to throw stones and leaves into the water.

What a nice autumn day.
Downhill. Helen is marching on.
Before dinner we went to a playground Helen remembered from an earlier visit.

William was very distracted by two little girls.

Here is a video!

The girls knew the playground very well. When they had left William had it for just a little while to himself and really used it all.

Thursday October 25

 Breakfast again. Ha-ha, and Omi's usual again.

Grandpa and William are reading. Picture was taken from the loft upstairs. I wonder whether you can see that somebody got carried away with the "bear theme". Bear figures, bear wall paper strips, bear curtains, bear lamp stands ...
... bear table 
... bear in the rafters
I don't think William noticed it. But he loves his teddy at home.
Some like their breakfast on the balcony.
After lunch we were waiting for Sarah and Wade to arrive.
What is it with the belly button?
Before dinner we went to the playground again. William needed to have a good run-around. This time Aunt Sarah came too. She took some wonderful pictures. I am posting some of hers but hope that she has time to post a blog on her site.

This is one of her pictures. We played with the leaves. It might not look like it but William thought it was a hoot.
And no girls this time. Yeah!
Mango cream for dessert. Helen took his shirt off because dinner was "taco salad" (chilli with some spaghetti sauce). 
The adults wanted to do some playing after dinner too.
William played his own game but it didn't matter since he only used the balls which had already fallen. Of course once in a while he needed to be reminded, ha-ha.
And he also helped Omi play a game of ping pong with Mommy (Helen).
Of course his arm was a little short.
But he was very interested. Just wait a few years.
I had brought the bananagram game with me from England. Sarah and especially Wade liked to play it. I think Wade just won here.

Friday October 26

Our three men left early at 9 am with their lunch packed and hiking boots on.
Helen, Sarah, William and I went through Gatlinburg to a Smoky Mountain Park Center to go on a ranger guided hike which really was more like a stroll but very nice and very interesting. William was as good as gold.

We went to a little waterfall too.
Sarah took lots of photos again. I think she is checking here what she did.
My iPhone is taking nice photos too. I am pleased. 

 This and the next three were taken by Sarah.

And on the way back to the car ...
... and to lunch. Helen recommended The Wild Plum Cafe. Nice choice. William liked the orange slices which came with our teas while we were waiting for the food.

More pre-lunch food. There used to be 8 wild plum mini muffins ... but most were gone before I could take the picture. They were served with wild plum jam.
It was a very nice place. The four of us really enjoyed it. And I had the feeling the guests around us really enjoyed William.
And here are pictures from James. The men had strict instructions to take some photos on their hike too.
The  sign says "closely control children, 4 deaths here from falls".
They did it!
Mmhh, this waterfall is a little more impressive then ours was.
James proudly shows the altitude because it was quite a very steep hike, 8 miles round-trip.

And he even took pictures of the flora.
James decided that a soak in the hot-tub to loosen the muscles was a good idea.

So did Wade. And Ben later too.
Well, and now comes the "official" part.
The girls (and their husbands) had prepared a basket for James.

A certificate to get wine-of-the-month for a year and loads of different things to go with his new wine storage from me. They also prepared a picture frame with a "homemade" poem and a cut-out in the mat for a group photo which will be taken tomorrow.
Needless to say, James was very happy and touched.
Oh, yes, the girls also arranged to have a cake.

William is fascinated ...

... and supervising the cake-cutting.
Hip, hip, hip, hurray! The Burr-way
Another picture from the loft down to the dining table.

This evening Wade and Ben grilled.

Saturday October 27

Ben had talked about a challenge of mini golf so we "had to" do that on Saturday. It was our last day and the sky tried to make leaving easier for us. The weather, which had been perfect all other days, turned gray. We drove a back way to Pigeon Forge. I had a feeling I had been here before ... many years ago with the 5 Crumplers?

William was very eager to go in but we had to pay first.

Sarah took this picture, got herself into it and her father playing with his ball. Can you see it? Interesting!
William is waiting his turn. He got a little putter too.
Most of these pictures are from Sarah. If I am in it, I probably didn't take it!

After this William lost a little his concentration because of the rides in the back ground. He was fascinated by them.

 I love this one Sarah took.

In the afternoon we played bananagram again. I still had some tiles left (not in the picture).

But Wade was done.
Before we left for dinner, Sarah set up her tripod.  She set her camera to take several pictures in a row. Didn't know you could do that.

Later she also told us to make faces ... but I spare you to look at those, ha-ha.
Where to go for "the special dinner" was discussed in length. There is no shortage of places to go. James wanted to avoid the traffic and stay on our side of the town. Here the selection was not so great. We decided on the "Fox and Parrot Tavern", billed as an authentic British pub. 
The food "sounded British", but ...

This is my bubble and squeak. Really? It was tasty though and we all had good laughs.
The menu said that you have to have patience because it is cooked especially. And I must say we all did and especially William. You can take that boy anywhere. (do I sound like a proud grandma?) You know that things can be a little more difficult when little children are involved. Not a problem here.
There was a sign over the door:
Freibier gibt's morgen
(free beer tomorrow)
William was feeding his father.
The "authentic British pub". It had not been what we expected, but we had a great time anyway.

And tomorrow morning we have to pack and drive home in different directions. Sigh. James and I are very grateful and happy that our children like to spend time with us. We had a wonderful time, even if there had to be some bugs to be worked out.

The END.    (not quite)

While we were in Gatlinburg we kept hearing about Sandy, the hurricane approaching the East Coast. While James and I were driving home we overtook several convoys of utility trucks from different states (Texas, Alabama, Tennessee) getting ready to help out during and after Sandy. I am happy to report that we and the Wallers were spared. We got a lot of rain but that's it. Our hearts go out to all those not so fortunate.