Once we really got started the drive up was relatively uneventful. Get on the interstate and drive. Follow traffic, keep up with the flow and stay out of the way of the big rigs. We only stopped once on the way up and that was to fill my husband's thermos with coffee--being that I had drank not only my cup of coffee but finished off his as well. He had told me days before he got home that he wasn't driving at all. He does enough of that for a living and someone else (meaning me) could and would drive. I have no problem with that as long as he doesn't try and tell me how to go about it. That being the case I needed coffee- no matter whose it was. Some stranger driving down the road leaving his cup unattended may have been at risk of losing said cup when mine ran dry. So we stopped and filled the thermos and were back on the highway headed west.
The one thing I do not like about traveling (anywhere) is my total lack of any sense of direction. My son- he has no need for a map and I would swear he has some form of internal compass that has him traveling in the right direction at all times even when he has never been where he is going before. I on the other hand could not find my way out of a paper bag turned over on its side with neon arrows pointing the way. This annoys my husband to no end as he had planned on sleeping all the way up. Needless to say that didn't happen.
By the time we neared Pigeon Forge I was feeling every mile. I was very relieved to see the familiar signs advertising this dinner and show venue or that odd looking upside down house, the Titanic and even the bumper to bumper traffic. That never ending line of tail lights leading the way to our destination was a beautiful sight to see.
Pulling into the roadway leading up to the hotel I breathed a sigh of relief. Parking the Explorer we got out and made our way to the front desk. There we met two of just a few of the nicest people we were going to meet on this adventure. We informed them that James was coming and were told that all he had to do was stop by the front desk when he arrived. Getting our keys we made our way up to our room. There I learned just how important it is to make sure of exactly what you are reserving. It had a king-sized bed, there was the Jacuzzi, but what I thought should have been a couch, was a bench. There was no where for James to sleep. It was also a smoking room. The smell of cigarettes was over powering. The room was clean- it was nice-it was the last one on the floor right near the stairs--but it absolutely reeked of cigarettes. Turning around we headed back down to the front desk. I knew there would be no double rooms, I actually knew there would be no other rooms period but my husband insisted on trying. There Heather and Tabby explained how everything was booked and they were having to turn people away. They could, however provide us with a rollaway bed. They also provided us with some airfreshner for the room which helped greatly. We did have problems with allergies during our stay but there was nothing that could be done. We did not warn James about where he was going to sleep- we saved that for his arrival and us getting to see his expression.
Knowing it would be late before James would arrive we carried everything up to the room and then went to the Cracker Barrel for supper. There again we met some really nice people who immediately led us to a small table. The meal arrived quickly and was very good. After eating we headed out into the Pigeon Forge traffic and returned to the room to rest and to await James. The room had free wi-fi so I had brought along my netbook. I have a love -hate mostly hate for that thing. Its too small to see well, incredibly slow and seems to have the humanistic desire to fully annoy me.On the other hand at least I could get online to wish everyone a good morning or good night.
It was going on eleven when James arrived. Mildly tired but ready for a vacation. He had brought along his video game system and proceeded to set everything up. He had- or maybe I should say hadn't- really packed. He had tossed what he planned to wear in the truck of his car. He brought up only what he needed for the night, tried to get his system online and when that failed settled for watching a bit of television as he unwound. As for the bed, his maturity shown when he simply shrugged and said that it was better than sleeping on the floor.
I realized just how tired I was from the drive when I was able to fall asleep even with the television on and the volume loud enough (I thought) to be heard back in Charlotte. My last thought was of the next day- we were going to Cades Cove..I was hoping to see bear--- little did I know, exactly what awaited us...