Gaylon and I had an amazing weekend in Gatlinburg! We stayed at the Edgewater Hotel, which was okay. The elevators were agonizingly s-l-o-w. But the view from our 8th floor room was awesome! The staff was very nice, friendly and helpful, and the rooms were nice and clean. Their “bountiful free Continental Breakfast” was, in a word, horrible! Especially the coffee and the gravy. After trying it the first morning, we gave it up and went to Shoney’s which was pretty good. (Still weak and flavorless coffee, though.)
We ate dinner at Linebergers Seafood the first night. We both had steak and lobster, since we had a $30 gift card from the hotel for that establishment. The lobster was great, but the steak was a tad on the dry side. It did have great flavor, though! And, happily, the coffee was good! Then we wandered around town until it was time for Gatlinburg’s 33rd Annual 4th of July Midnight Parade. People had started setting chairs up all along the main street early the morning of the 3rd, and so we didn’t really think we would get a decent spot to see the parade. But amazingly, we managed to find a perch on top of a barricade and got a great view of the
entire thing! Right before the parade started, they closed the street to traffic, and we started noticing that coins (real money) were falling into the street, seemingly from nowhere. All up and down the street, children were running around like crazy chasing these mysterious coins! After several minutes, we were able to figure out that various shops were throwing their tip jars into the street for the children! It was absolute pandemonium, and the kids had a blast!! The parade itself was excellent, with some really amazing floats. My favorite part was the bagpipes!!
We spent the next day (Friday) at Dollywood. That was nice, and we took in a show, which was a lot of fun. After leaving Dollywood, we headed back into Gatlinburg for dinner. We got an amazing deal on some Mexican food at No Way Jose’s Cantina, and finished out dinner in perfect time to walk out into the parking lot and just stand there with several hundred other folks and look up into the sky to witness the most magnificent fireworks display I’ve ever seen! It was right over the restaraunt, and we could physically feel the mortars going off, we were so close! The grand finale lasted probably 3 or 4 minutes, and we could hear the most amazing roar echoing off of the mountains! It was so incredible, I really don’t have the words to describe it! When it was over, a woman next to us shouted “God Bless the USA!” and a lot of people started shouting “USA! USA! USA!” It was fantastic!
Yesterday we woke up to rain. But, rather than be discouraged, we thought maybe the Pancake Pantry we had been wanting to eat at might not have such a long line! So we rushed over there (about a 3 block walk from our hotel) and sure enough: the rain had chased everyone away! So we got right in and had an awesome breakfast. Their coffee wasn’t very good, but the pancakes made up for it. After breakfast, we drove over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and went hiking. We hiked up to Grotto Falls, which is about a two and a half mile hike, usually, but we had to park quite a ways from the trail head, so we figure we hiked right at 3 miles. The falls were really beautiful! And the weather was awesome, too! It threatened to rain again all day, but never did, and we had some really nice breezes going up the mountain, which was great!
Last night, we made it to Mass at St. Mary’s, managing to get the absolute last parking spot available at the church! After Mass, we randomly picked The Park Grill restaurant because it looked really nice, and actually got front-row parking and walked right in! The steak was melt-in-your-mouth perfect, and their coffee was divine!! (Can you tell that coffee is what really matters to me?)
This morning we knew we’d never have time to wait in line again at the Pancake Pantry, so we thought we’d try out Flapjacks on our way out of town. Well, the eggs, biscuits and gravy were really good! But the pancakes, ah, tasted like they had added cake batter to them! NOT the taste I want in pancakes. . . it was really weird. And the coffee, well, not so great. But it was hot and caffeinated, so we were happy!
Our drive home was mostly uneventful. Just 3/4 of a mile from our exit in Asheville, traffic inexplicably went from 70mph to PARKED. I had just enough time to lock down the brakes and avoid hitting the truck in front of me, and the poor guy behind me had to swerve into the shoulder toward the retaining wall (is there a law that states that I-40 MUST be under construction at all times, coast-to-coast?) and narrowly avoided plowing right into us! If we’d been literally 20 feet farther up the road, there was no shoulder, and he would have had to hit me and the wall. Which brings me to my main point: God is so good!! Gaylon and I had an awesome time all weekend long, and the whole time we could see God’s blessings all around us. It was terrific, and I really hope we get to get away again soon!