What a get-away. completely unplanned - but desperately needed.
Thursday Aaron, Liz and I had an Urban Ministry meeting - we have these 2 times a month. As the meeting came to a conclusion, Liz asked Aaron and I when we were going to take time off -- as we scoured through the upcoming dates, weeks, months ... it looked like JULY.
looking at the dates, if we could line up some one to preach Sunday April 18th ... Aaron and I could get away for a long weekend.
So Liz, in her quick thinking called her dear friend that works in Vacations, to see if there was anything available. By 5pm Thursday evening Aaron and I had a reservation for a condo in Gatlinburg TN. We headed out the next morning.
After driving about 5 hours we found ourselves in Pigeon Forge (yep DollyWood). The streets were lined with chairs and people .... at first we thought are they all here to welcome us! The drive should take about 15 min, took us an hour of rolling through the bumper to bumper traffic, with the sidewalks filled with people. We knew we had left the comforts of home when we saw a truck with 5 lawn chairs, with guys sitting in them - in the truck bed ....
We finally made it to our mountain retreat, and learned there was a BIG car show Friday. The lining of the streets was NOT for our triumphal entry to Vacation. We enjoyed it anyway!
We got settled in our HUGE condo, it is bigger then our house ... well maybe not - but having a second floor make it seem bigger. Got settled and headed to dinner and the grocery store. Dinner was at an Italian place, VERY good. We split the sampler platter - got a good taste of everything. Then went to the grocery ... when we got back to our place Aaron got started on his course work and I flipped through all the cable channels. We are not used to SO many channels.
Saturday we packed lunches and headed out to explore "downtown" Gatlinburg. What a tourist attraction! Ripley sponsors EVERYTHING, yeah from Ripley's Believe it or Not to an Aquarium ... the streets where packed, bumper to bumper traffic and sidewalks covered with people. We loved it!
Sunday we headed into the Smokey Mountain National Park ... I picked a trail to explore/hike. I picked one that was 2 miles with a spectacular view (I am a sucker for advertising!) It was a hard hike, Aaron and I were moving at a serious clip - when my heart was pounding and my breathing was super hard ... I asked to stop and rest (I think we had been walking about 35min?)
While stopped I said "My goodness, I am working so hard - who am I trying to impress?
Aaron replied "He's already impressed"
My heart melted, what a perfect answer! :)
The trail was very rocky, steep - sometimes it seemed that we were walking in slow motion - the streams flowing around us provided tranquility while we pressed on. Several other couples and families were traveling the same trail. And on a few occasions If there had not been others in front of us I would have thought the trail ended ... to get to the top of the Chimney Trail you actually scale the rocks ....when we got there we opted not to go all the way ... 2 reasons: 1) it was crowded, about 6 people on the peak. 2) i did not trust the strength remaining in my legs
The return allowed us to recognize how steep the climb actually was! WOW ... when we returned to the car the hike took us 3 hours, I looked at the guide book and we had hiked 4 miles round trip ... the guide also ranks the trails; easy, moderate, strenuous ... our trail was listed as strenuous - wheew that made me feel better about how hard my heart worked and how my body was feeling!
I am inspired to look for areas around Indy for similar opportunities for Aaron and I to increase our "Recreational Companionship" ...
Today, we are going to tour the "Arts and Crafts Loop" ... Aaron is such a trooper!
Tomorrow we head home, thankful for the time away - a drastic contrast to our 5 days in the city!
Pictures to come ...
GRACE AND PEACE!