Gatlinburg reportedly has the first Independence Day parade in the nation as it is held at midnight. The adventurer in me wanted to be there, the not as young as I once was person said the grammatically incorrect "ain't happening". And it didn't. We did however go to Gatlinburg on the fourth.
After a quick breakfast James drove as I and my husband sat and enjoyed the drive. James even drove a bit less aggressively, which was much easier to take. We had talked about taking the trolley from Pigeon Forge - but didn't. We saw the sign for a visitor's center/ trolley stop and discussed parking there- but didn't. So much for a free parking, no hassle trip. Driving into Gatlinburg we parked in the same place that we always have and handed over the ten dollars for the privilege. Leaving the car windows down slightly we headed out for the next part of our adventure. The heat we had been dealing with from the beginning was unrelenting. I wanted to shop...not to buy, but for an excuse to escape the heat. We went into a mall that was interesting. Making the circle we headed back out to the street. Back in the crowds we made our way down the street to the corner that lead us to the aquarium. Ordinarily I love the aquarium but it was so crowded that it was impossible to see and photograph all that I wanted to. The people were nice enough even- as some seemed determined to camp out in spots. I was fighting to remain patient even as I watched my husband walk on ahead leaving me to my challenges. I was doing okay until the young girl stepped backward right onto my foot. It was an accident, I know it was an accident..she didn't mean to just as I didn't mean to let out that yelp of pain. Her mother herded her away, telling her she had to be careful.. I tried to apologize and tell her I knew she didn't mean to. I didn't want the girl being lectured over an accident....but it DID hurt.
We made our way through, seeing the various forms of aquatic life, watching the demonstrations and visiting with the penguins. Leaving there we decided that it was once again time to eat. Shoneys sounded good and brought back a lot of memories. Once fed we separated, James heading out to do what ever it was he had on his mind as my husband and I wandered among the shops. The heat had grown even more intense so I left my husband in a fast food place as I searched more of the shops for a souvenir for my parents. Finding what I wanted I headed back, reaching the restaurant at the same time that James did. Leaving there we made our way to the car and back to the hotel. It was there that I found out about Patriot Park and the celebration going on...
James looked up the location for the park and we decided that we would walk there. It was still hot at six in the afternoon but we set out anyway. Before we even reached the sidewalk James spotted a distant rainbow. As he watched it he decided that it was going to rain and headed back for the car. My husband and I continued on. When there was a break in traffic we quickly crossed the roadway to the center medium, then waited for a chance to cross the rest of the way. Once that came we hurried across and then joined the throng of people and made our way to the park. Cars and people were every where and more were coming. My husband and I made our way around the field seeing what all was set up. Once we reached the far side we called James to find out that he had arrived and was waiting near the river. Crossing the field we found James and found a place to sit on the rocks.
It wasn't long before the heat had us thirsting for liquid refreshment. James had grown bored so he volunteered to go off in search of water. When he returned he told us that he hadn't been able to find water but had canned sodas for him and his dad. I-being the all knowing one- decided that I could find water and set off on my quest. Circling the field I was not having any luck. I passed a table that had a sign for iced sweet tea, by this time I was growing desperate and got in line. Just as I arrived at the front of the line the lady behind the table reached across and pulled the sign from the table. When I inquired she told me they had just ran out. Turning away I started off again. Stopping at another table I asked about water to be told that a truck for a soda company had water. Crossing the field to the near halfway point I patiently waited to be waited on. When I asked for water I was told they had ran out thirty minutes before. Why is it when you can't get something, that is when you want it even more. I went back to where my husband and son sat. I stood there looking back in the direction I had been wondering where I was going to get water. Then the light went off, we had walked through a small store when we first arrived, maybe they had water. Leaving my family where they sat I headed for the store. Entering I made a quick circle, no water. Back out on the porch I looked back toward where my family waited, then straight ahead. I wondered if I was going to have to go back to town in search of water. Then I saw it---straight ahead on the front porch of another establishment was a soda machine. Hurrying across the parking area I pulled money from my pocket and fed it into the slot. Pushing the button I prayed and got a bottle of ice cold water. I twisted off the top and took a swallow and it was so incredibly good going down. A lady and her daughter came up- behind me and bought a bottle of water and walked away. Thinking to carry a bottle back to my husband I fed more money to the machine only to have it show sold out. Well, he had drank that soda- it wasn't like he had gone without. Walking back I knew I was going to be a bit selfish, but he was not getting my water...and he didn't.
We listened to live music while we waited on the fireworks display. My husband kept trying to guess when it was going to start. We knew eventually he would have to get it right but until then it was slightly annoying. When the fireworks did begin we found that a tree was part way blocking our view. Still all in all it was a decent show and we did enjoy it. I did wish later that I had placed the camera on a tripod but then I wouldn't have gotten some of the interesting effects that I did holding the camera.
Once the fireworks were over we began the walk back. Crossing the roadway at the light and with the help of the local police was much easier and quicker. Once we were across we took our time walking back. The night air slightly cooler and a full moon rising made the evening nice. Arriving back at the hotel we snuggled in..the next day we were going home.