We had a great homecoming day with the good people of the Chester United Methodist Church in Dodge County. I was their pastor from 1982 until 1986. They graciously invited me back to preach their homecoming sermon. Some of the members treated us to a fine dinner in Dublin on Saturday night. B. J. and I had a great ministry there and being with them on their special day was fun.
I reined Big Red away from Chester around 3:00pm on the way to Sevierville, Tennessee for a week in the Smokey Mountains. We were not due to check into our condo until 4:00pm Tuesday so we would swing by our other “second home” Helen, Ga., spend the night, rise early, stop by Betty’s Country Store, drive through Georgia’s Blue Ridge and behold the colorful leaves.
We dragged our sleepy bodies out of the sack around 6:00am. It was cool in Helen. We slipped on some jogging clothes and made our way to the tasty continental breakfast. After dining, we went for a brisk walk across the Chattahoochee while we waited for the sunrise over the mountains. We wanted to get pictures of that awe-inspiring spectacle.
Shortly, we were on our way north. We would drive scenic highway 75 through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Hiawassee and then take highway 76 across the top of Georgia to Clayton. The colorful leaves were in full array. We were spellbound. Big Red was feisty and ready to ride. At Clayton, we would access U.S. 441 into North Carolina. At Cherokee, NC, we would continue through the Smokey Mountain National Park to Gatlinburg (actually we would bypass Gatlinburg), Pigeon Forge, and to our home for the week, our new super condominium, the Wyndham Smokey Mountain Lodge in Sevierville, Tenn. B. J. had reserved a plush presidential suite that sleeps eight people. Since we had so much room, we invited our fun-loving friends, Nelda Padgett and Rita Williams from Baxley, Ga. to vacation with us. They would join us on Wednesday and stay until Saturday.
Cherokee is one of our “old stomping grounds” so B.J. and I had to stop and spend some time there and visit our Cherokee friend, the leather crafter at the leather shop. He has made a number of belts for me across the years. Although, I did not need a new belt, we wanted to drop by and say hello. He was delighted to see us and thought I wanted another belt. He was a little disappointed when I told him, “Maybe next time.”
After rambling around Cherokee for a while, it was time for lunch. Our favorite restaurant in Cherokee is the Little Princess. It has an attractive Native America decor. You can order from a menu and be served by pretty Cherokee servers or feast at the fundelicious buffet. We have eaten there a number of times. The food and service gets better with each visit.
The weather was great. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was Big Red’s first trip to the Smokey Mountains and he was ready for some excitement. We removed his toupee for the ride through the Park. He was beside himself.
The Smokey Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the U. S. B. J. and I have crossed it many times but never in a High Performance Mustang convertible. We eagerly embarked on the new adventure.
People throng to the Smokies during the “Color Season”. They fill the “Scenic Overviews” and line the shoulders of the road with cameras in hand. Enthralled, they photograph the breathtaking landscape in all its splendor. The only thing that might have been more colorful than the leaves was Big Red. He strutted his stuff as he took the Smokies with the greatest of ease.
We found a hitching rail for Big Red in our favorite stopping place in the Park. We “got down” from the saddle with cameras ready; the scenery was gorgeous. We were glad we were there.
After snapping pictures to our heart’s content, we moved on to Newfound Gap where we had another picture-taking episode. Newfound Gap, near Clingman’s Dome, affords some great photo opportunities.
I reined Big Red down the Mountain, through Pigeon Forge and to our pad for the week in Sevierville. We would take in Gatlinburg later with Rita and Nelda.
Our keys were ready for us. We picked them up and carted our travel rags to our suite on the sixth floor (top floor). We wanted to get settled in and go in search of some mountain vittles.