Last Day in Gatlinburg

I lost a whole day in Gatlinburg to lupus. It started catching up with me Saturday evening, and by Sunday, I was wiped out. I slept almost twenty-four hours as my body fought a fresh bout of inflammation, able to stay upright only briefly before getting dizzy and developing an erratic heartbeat. @Jayna flew home that morning and nearly everyone else left as well. @SirCork, @GMuxx, @Catherine813, and my husband @sk43 weren’t about to let one minute go to waste, though. They took off touring the town, played with the sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium, and ended up shutting down the Hard Rock Cafe that night. You can read more about their adventures HERE, in this post by GMuxx.

We started Monday morning off right with a hearty breakfast at IHOP in Pigeon Forge, the one at the south end of the strip near Dollywood Lane. I just can’t say enough good things about the service we received there. We were traveling with dogs, mine and SirCork’s, and the heat was unbearable. We left both cars running with the AC on full blast, but needed a seat near a window facing the side lot where we’d parked. Hostess Kelley was a credit to her profession and the entire IHOP chain that morning in making sure we found the best booth. IHOP execs, if you stumble across this blog, I hope you’ll take the time to contact management at that store and tell them how much we appreciated Kelley’s friendly smile and helpful attitude.
From there, our dwindling crew split up again. SirCork faced a very long drive back to Richmond, VA, so he left from IHOP headed home. Muxxy’s flight wasn’t until later that afternoon, so we took the long way to Knoxville by way of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. By now it had started to rain, so we weren’t sure how many features on that scenic loop we’d get to see. As luck would have it, we were able to stop at a few of the old home sites and do a little exploring.

This wasn’t my first trip around that scenic loop. My favorite homeplace by far is the Bales cabin that sits near a particularly breathtaking stretch of the Roaring Fork River. The cabin was occupied by Ephraim and Minerva Bales as recently as 1930. The home, barn, corn crib, and hog shed still stand, as well as the rock wall that faces the original roadway between the house and the river.

I would live there today if I could. I love everything about that piece of land. The river, though–my goodness. It is the perfect place to play, bathe, wash clothes, and imagine fiercely romantic historical fiction that I may very well write some day. I would love to know what became of that family. Growing up there had to be every child’s dream.

Above is the image and text from a marker mounted near the Bales cabin parking area. Below is a photo of Ephraim Bales standing in the doorway of this cabin, and below that, a photo of GMuxx standing in the very same doorway. These people must have been tiny. Yes, GMuxx is tall, but the difference is striking. It really makes you think about human evolution, and the role healthcare, diet, and possibly hormones in our food actually plays in our development.

Here is a photo of the original roadway that ran between the house and the barn, which you can see through the leaves at the center right of the photo. The cabin is situated out of frame directly left, several yards from the rock wall. The Motor Trail and parking area is in what once was the Bales family back yard.

Here’s a better view of the rock wall.

And a look further down the original roadway running parallel to the river.

The old hog shed, still sturdy and solid enough to house one of those hardheaded beasts. (Yes, I’ve owned a pig. I know of which I speak.)

Below, you can see what it looks like to lose one of your BFFs to your husband. LOL

When all was said and done, this was one of the most enjoyable and certainly the most productive trip I’ve ever taken. These folks made great company and I would have happily spent another week or five with them if I could have. Sadly,. though, time for Muxxy’s departure drew nigh. We got him to the airport in time to sort a minor kerfluffle with his ticket, and then he was off, past the sign at the Knoxville airport that read “ticketed passengers only.”

I did develop a sudden case of “allergies” and get all weepy-eyed. Yes I did. No point telling a fib about that. Muxxy has been my friend and Writers Block co-conspirator for a year now. He’s just as awesome in person as he is online, and the fact that my husband likes him as much as I do only cemented the idea that some families are just meant to be connected. I got to meet Muxxy’s lovely other half Kim by video chat, and I can’t wait to meet her in person.

Presently, I got a text from Muxxy that showed his plane at the gate, and then one of the pilot whose hands he’d be in all the way to Dulles. Time passed, and I received a selfie of Muxx sitting in a very cramped-looking passenger section. This made me happy that the flight would be a relatively brief one. Far too soon, cell phones had to be switched off and seatbelts fastened. Catherine813 and I trotted outside to a spot where we could see part of the runway, and waved goodbye as the jet lifted off and disappeared into the blue Tennessee sky.