After church Sunday afternoon the 12th, we all ran home and had lunch at mama's, then we were off on a road trip...to the Smoky Mountains...my home away from home. The crew this trip was none other than Ginger, Erik, Logan, Tyler, Shelby, Peggy (Erik's mom), Laura (who was an exchange student in Williston in 07-08), and I...of course I rode with the younger crew. Shelby likes to sleep, Laura more or less stays quiet unless you ask her a question (sounds much like a Smith, huh?), Tyler and Logan kept me entertained with their singing abilities.
We stopped for supper north of Atlanta at an Olive Garden since Laura had never been to one (Laura is from Germany). We exit the interstate and as we're waiting for the red light to change, we start noticing the electrical lines overhead are covered with birds upon birds, with more flying in and perching on the wires. Looks like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "The Birds". Scary. I wish I would have gotten a picture of this, only I'm busy watching as the dark clouds gather and looking as though a storm could roll in at any time. As I'm getting out of the vehicle, Ginger runs ahead to see how long the wait will be seeing the parking lot is filled to capacity. She comes out and informs us of a 20 minute wait....but, when she tells them one will be in a wheelchair, they tell her to come right on in and they'll seat us immediately. What does that tell you? You've got to know the right people. If you have a long wait, just ask me to come along and I can get you right in! I have special connections...hmmm, the ONLY advantage I know to being in a wheelchair. As we enter the Olive Garden, the host starts to ask us the number of people in our party, but upon seeing me he says, "Oh, you're in the wheelchair party, come right in." It was a good meal, and the storm starts up as we're eating...and continues as we finish up and try to load up in the vehicles.
Rather than driving the speed limit, we're moving a bit slower due to the rain and the drive seems to be a little longer than expected...like 2 1/2 hours longer. By this time we're completely give out. As we're nearing our destination, I asked Laura how to say, "I am tired" in German. Well, you have to roll your tongue and practically stand on your head to say some words. By the time we unload and everyone goes to bed, it's close to the midnight hour and I thought I had "ich-bin-muel" down pat (or that's what it sounds like in English). I sleep well that night, but I don't get to sleep in late as I was awaken by the phone ringing rather than my alarm clock. This picture (from my phone) is just an inkling of what my view was each morning as I opened my blinds.
On Monday, we travel into town to do a little grocery shopping. We spend about an hour in the grocery store...this is the only store I can go in and stay all day at. A variety of fresh pastries from their bakery, vegetables, etc. The rest of the day we sit or lay around and rest our weary bones. Steaks are grilled for supper with sides of tossed salad, mashed potatoes, rolls and sweet iced tea. It was very good I must say. The weather forecasts showers by the latter part of the week, so we adjust our schedules accordingly....just get me to the water.
Tuesday arrives, the young ones sleep in and us older ones wait for them to come up for breakfast. What is it with young people? Growing up, If we weren't up by the time the rooster crowed, my daddy would tell us we were "sleeping our life away." Seriously, by the time you sleep in till almost noon, half your day is shot (daylight hours, that is). Back to my story...I mix up some pimento cheese and we get the rest of our picnic supplies (minus the Oreo's they forgot to put in the bag) and head to the lake to rent a 25" pontoon boat to go out on.
To be confined to a wheelchair 365 days a year, one looks forward to being able to get out of it when given the opportunity. Since the human body has natural buoyancy to it (or in it), one of the few pleasures that can still be enjoyed for me is being able to swim...and that I did. I was shriveled like a prune by the time I got out of the water. For me, it's much easier to enter the water via being thrown in than any other way. I wish I could say they just lowered me down into the water, but it's heeve-ho and overboard I go...much easier this way. Here at beautiful Lake Chatuge that stretches for miles, wraps around mountains, has hidden coves and averages 80' and 90' depths, catfish have been seen that some say are the length of a car...or I heard a boat....but what the heck, anything over the length of my arm is monstrous. When I went swimming here last year and this particular day last week, all I could think of as I entered the water is, "Is this boat-sized catfish waiting on me?" I did better this time before I was thrown into the water, but last year I screamed for the first 10-15 seconds after hitting the water.
No, I didn't see any fish. Logan took his underwater camera (to which I threatened to drown anyone that takes an underwater shot of this body), and of the shots he got under water, we didn't see any fish...thank the Lord. I had bought a bathing suit that had a stupid silver ring in the top part of it, and was so thankful it didn't attract fish into thinking I was some sort of jig. After about an hour of staying in the water, we got back into the boat, had a scrumptious picnic while anchored at a nice cove, then we slowly made our way back to the marina.
We had BBQ from Rib Country for supper later this evening, and I made brownies and homemade hot fudge sauce to have with our ala modes. Being around water always makes one hungry as a horse. Of course by the looks of me, I must be in the fish family...Orca or Shamu.
I decided to stay around the house on Wednesday and do a little blogging, check my FaceBook, and read on a book while they head over to Helen, GA for Laura to see the way the town is decorated year round...Bavarian style. After visiting the little shops, and eating lunch at the restaurant that sits over the creek, the crew heads back on the winding road home (one that can make you sick) and we eat at my most favorite restaurant later that evening...the Ridges. I was a little disappointed to see by the menu that they had changed owners since our visit in December, and didn't know what to expect, but the food is still prepared by a professional chef/the owner. It was great. Logan, Tyler, and I all had the filet mignon's, Erik had the pork chops, Ginger and Peggy had the best Salmon they had ever tasted (their words), Shelby had shrimp fettuccine, and Laura had the baked or grilled chicken. We finished up dinner and exited out the back to go down by the lake we had been on the day before for pictures. A flock of wild geese fed out on the shaded lawn and we had to dodge duck dung with every turn (say that 3 times fast). We finished up Wednesday evening with a few games of rummy...a must every time we're in the mountains.
Thursday morning arrived and I'm starting to get a little sad being we'll have to start toward home in less than 2 days. We ate a lite lunch at the house (remember, the young ones don't get up until half the day is gone) and we all went to the movie, "The Proposal". Whewww, that Ryan Reynolds was a site for sore eyes. After the movie, Shelby, Logan, and I head to the house to relax while the others do a little shopping. I love to shop but have learned to not like it as much being the little shops up there are so full of stuff I can't get my wheelchair around in them...saved me a lot of money too. I made reservations for dinner for all of us at CrossRoads, and we enjoy an evening of laughs around the table as most of us dine on their fresh lemon peppered mountain trout. These people can "do it up" good too. We end our meal with fresh peach cobbler, and apple crisp...all ala-modes. Don't worry, we just got two orders and eight spoons so that we could all share. By now you can see that vacation time is a bad time to diet when you're around our family. Our cupboards are far from bare the day before we leave for home...
Friday has arrived and we head over to Fires Creek, a 20 minute ride around mountains and through the woods. If the name doesn't sound familiar, you may recall the guy that was arrested after the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. This was where he had been hiding out when he was arrested. Deep in the woods, but beautiful ice-cold mountain streams. We stayed for a little while where the "kids" could take a dip. The no-seeum bugs like to have eaten me, Ginger, and Peggy up as we watched them laugh and "bust it" several times on a slippery rock.
Once we got back home from Fires Creek, a few of them head back to the grocery store (once again) for ingredients that will be used in our German meal Laura (& Logan) would prepare for supper this night. I watched them and took note of everything so that I could make this meal again when I got back to Williston. It was 2 baguettes loaves of "tomato bread" made from scratch..yeast and all. Schnitzel, which is a pork cutlet pounded very thin with a special bread crumb batter. Homemade Au Gratin Potatoes, loaded with whipping cream, cheese, etc. and we had fresh asparagus for our green vegetable. Laura even folded our paper dinner napkins, though they didn't want to stand up as well as the linen ones would have.
The dinner/supper was delicious! And it's always nice to have Peggy around, because she has an art to cleaning dishes...and housework period. Honestly, earlier that day I got some cleaning supplies and started dusting my room & cleaning my bathroom...and Peggy is going around literally whistling and humming as she works. She cleans blinds like nobody's business too!
Saturday morning arrives and everyone is stirring around the house, and we leave NC by about 7:30, and arrive around 9:30 at my niece/nephew's new house they moved to in Cummings, GA. We got to visit with Brooke, Wayne, Camden, and Kinsley for about an hour and we're back on the road again. It was good to see family again...Camden's quiet much like his Great Uncle Wes, while Kinsley talks much like her Great Aunt Anneil. Loud and alot (hey Anneil, you know I love you). So...lunch is at Chili's in Stockbridge....then we pull off a little further down the road at Lane's packaging in Ft. Valley for fresh peaches to take home. We were packed to the gill...looking much like the Clampetts from Beverly Hills, CA.
So how do you like my purse my niece, nephews, & German friend picked out for me?I thought it looked like a cow print, but it's actually giraffe. But, I love it and call it my Swiss Army purse being it has several functions: It holds my junk, and it can be used both as a weapon and bottle opener. Why? You may ask. For one reason, the hardware on this thing is so heavy I could literally knock anyone out with it if they came at me, and the other reason is...we pull into a very crowded convenience store on the way back and while we wait, the kids run inside to get a snack. As we're back on the road everyone is opening their snacks and Tyler got one of the old-fashioned, small-bottled Coke's...and he did not get it opened inside as he should have, so for 10 minutes I was determined to find a way to open it for him. I opened up the glove compartment and tried to use the metal latch that hangs down, but it just barely let a little air & Coke fizz escape onto the CD's, (but I cleaned it up Ginger). Finally, I unlatch the handle on this purse and *bling* the cap pops off!
Well, this is just a snapshot of the fun and relaxing time I had in the mountains with family and friends. It's amazing what refreshment a trip can do for a weary mind, and I thank the Lord for blessing my trip in the way that He did. I've got many memories tucked away in my mind of fun times I've had with friends and my family, especially when my daddy was alive...and this is just one more to add to the archives. Proverbs 3:4 says there's "...a time to weep, and a time to laugh." I had my fill of laughter on this trip...it was a good one indeed.
In closing, each evening in the mountains it's neat to see what kind of sunset God will pull out for us to view from our front porch. I thought this one was especially pretty, and the verse fits it well. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork." Psalm 19:1