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» Friday, November 15, 2013Grey Day for a Journey
So the dog barked, needing to go out. So James took her out. And, ideally, we could have gone back to bed until nine, but it never works that way. Lay in bed for an hour, stomach growling; when James finally gave up, he admitted he hadn't gotten to sleep either.
Leaving on vacation this morning should have been easy. I'd already packed the snack/side dish bags, the dog's crate, and the pee pads. James brought the suitcases down, and his c-pap machine. Lastly, the dog, and she was just heading around the side of the car, having just been outside. "Up!" I said to her brightly.
She took me literally, fled in the house, upstairs, and all the way back to the kitchen. I ended up chasing her around the whole second floor before grabbing her collar and directing her downstairs. Evidently, she thought a visit to the vet was in order.
So we didn't get anywhere to eat that was serving breakfast, and ended up eating hamburgers for breakfast.
As soon as we got on the road heading northeast proper, I put on the new Big Finish Doctor Who audio, The Light at the End. The eighth Doctor and Charlie see a red button blinking on the TARDIS console, one the Doctor says he has never seen. It gives them a coordinate in Britain on November 23, 1963, but when they arrive there, Earth has two suns and is inhabited by friendly plants, who are just then attacked by giant earth-eating machines. In short order, the fourth, the sixth, the fifth, and the seventh Doctor and each of their companions (Leela, Peri, Nyssa, and Ace, respectively) are drawn into the story. The first half, of course, ended in quite the cliffhanger! Quite spiffing, as Daisy Dalrymple always says!
In the middle of the story, we stopped in Ellijay, at Panorama Orchards, where I bought a peck of Granny Smiths, some small jars of jams, a big apple pie, some sugar-free taffy, and a bottle of goat skin moisturizer. (The skin on my hands are like paper because I wash them so much.) James walked the dog, then took his turn at the gents when I got back.
At first we thought we weren't on the correct road; it seemed too freeway-like, then the road twisted through the Natahoula Valley, paralleling rocky streams, with mostly bare trees along the road. We passed now-quiet rafting concessions, closed restaurants, little stores. Eventually we reached freeway-like roads again, then took a hard left in Cherokee, passed all the Native American concessions, and finally climbed into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I'd like to say we saw some spectacular scenery despite the trees being bare, but the brief rain shower in Ellijay was a harbinger of the remainder of the afternoon. It spattered and rained and drizzled and rained and spattered and then rained again. It rained through the Natahoula Valley and all through the National Park; my only solace was that I had put on instrumental Christmas music after we finished with the first half of The Light at the End, and it was a soothing accompaniment to the scenery. Once we got up to the summit and then down the Gatlinburg side, we could see the remains of the snowfall they had (I found out later) on Wednesday. It was in the folds of the roadsides and next to the rocks at the edge of the streams, and in the crease of the curbstones, and, on the stone cuts where the road had gone through the mountain, there were long icicles, some nearly as tall as me, and ice clinging to the rocks.
Literally, the National Park ends in Gatlinburg. You pass the last exit and hit the first traffic light. The town is all decorated for Christmas, with swoopy lights and snowflakes fastened to the light poles, Christmas trees in every hotel lobby, wreaths and swags and ornaments on door fronts, and figurals all the way down the road, even when we turned on the East Parkway.
We rented a cabin from the Stony Brook folks again, like six years ago. (Sigh...this time, no Schuyler with us.) Rather than a cabin up on a hill, I thought I'd save Twilight having to climb like a goat, and got a little cabin on a creek instead. We're about sixteen miles east of downtown. We got to the office just in time to check in, then had to drive on further to the cabin.
We were already knackered, not just from six hours sleep, but because James has had a cold since he got his flu shot on Monday, and now it looks like I've got it, too. It's a good thing we decided on a relaxing trip this year, and not Washington, DC!
The cabin is cute and solid but a bit worn out. One of the drawer fronts is off in the kitchen, and I never could find the light switch for the lights on either side of the fireplace, so I just unscrewed the light bulbs. The tiny kitchen is on your left and a little living room on the right; there is a jacuzzi tub in the corner of the living room, and the full bath is downstairs, even smaller than our bathrooms! The bed is up in the loft with a half-bath.
By the time we got in, we were starving again. We'd stopped at KFC in Cherokee for a two-piece chicken for me and a sandwich for James about three, and now it was after five. There was a grocery nearby, but we didn't know if they had things like rotisserie chickens like Kroger does, so we drove into the Kroger in Pigeon Forge, and only made it back by being fortified with peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks.
So we ended up eating after seven; we both had hot chicken vegetable soup, James with crackers, mine with a piece of baguette, which was what our sore throats needed, with an apple pie chaser. (And milk, of course.) I've been tired enough to go to bed right then, but survived to plug the charge cords in and take more ibuprofin. Last time we rented the little mountain cabin, the wifi didn't work for beans; now we're on Xfinity. Much better for blogging, at least.
(We managed to exhaust Willow. She won't fall asleep in the car; the closest she got was lying down leaned against the food bags. Once she ate her dinner--I found something from Beniful which is tiny cans of chopped meat and vegetables; I suppose you could give it to a tiny dog as a meal, but it said it was good for mixing, and, sure enough, I mixed it with the dry dog food and she vacuumed it up--and cadged ours, she just went back into her crate and sacked out.)