Another Monday is knocking on my door! Funny how that seems to happen all too frequently these days. I had several days off and that time went particularly quick. I truly hope everyone had a fantastic 4th! Things for me were laid back and quite relaxing at the Howard Hilton. Keith and Morgan got all involved in the holiday activities…things such as decorating Morgan’s bike for the campground parade and participating in the zany pool games. Keri made an unexpected appearance to my delight so I spent much of my time trying to soak up as much of her as possible.
The campground was filled to the brim and constantly abuzz. While this is one of my most favorite times to visit, it is also my least favorite for lack of quiet. Geez! Now I know I’m getting old! Seems I am in constant search of peace and quiet! LOL! Honestly, my favorite time at the campground is late at night, during the camp imposed quiet hours when the moon is dancing through the trees and the flicker of campfires cast wonderfully eerie shadows throughout the park. Soft spoken conversations and light laughter can be heard while the distinct aroma of wood burning fills the air. Ahhhhhh! Such peace. Leaves me all warm and fuzzy inside.
So what did your holiday include? Lots of family time? Picnics and parades? How about fireworks?
Of course, I just mentioned the family time, but no picnics or fireworks for us. And the only parade we saw was the mini parade of decorated golf carts and bicycles that meandered through the park.
Morgan loves participating in the parade, but she came to the conclusion that this is the last year she will do so via a bicycle. Next year, she plans to graduate to our golf cart where she can ride and toss candy to all the campers lining the park streets. I personally see this as a smart choice. Why use pedal-power when you can use battery-power???
In my title I mentioned campfires, parades and a dip cone. Are any of you fans of Dairy Queen’s dip cones? Friday night as we were finishing dinner, Keri mentioned how much she could “go for a DQ butterscotch dip cone”. Now you all KNOW how much of a sweet tooth Keith has, so he was all over that suggestion. Within seconds, he had Mona (his GPS) out of the car and had her calculating the distance to the nearest DQ. Fourteen miles were between us and dessert. We rapidly cleared the table and piled in the car on a quest for this…
The commute was fun. We laughed at all the crazy stories Keri shared about her summer antics., discussed her return to Georgia and had an overall nice time. As we made our way through Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge, we could already see the chairs lining the streets for the midnight parade. No matter that it is was only 8:00 pm. With only 4 hours to go, everyone and all who knew them wanted to be assured a good spot. In all the years I’ve been going to Gatlinburg for the 4th, I’ve never gone to the midnight parade. We joked about being able to see the parade this year as the traffic going back into Gatlinburg was brutal. With Keith’s hang-ups about slow moving traffic, we were all happy to be moving in the opposite direction of the traffic jam.
Fourteen miles later, Mona informed us we were “Arriving At Destination”. Only problem was, there was no DQ in sight. Obviously, Mona had been misinformed. No worries. She had another one stored in her memory bank…this one 11 miles further. We laughed and slightly moaned about the misinformation but continued on.
Eleven more miles and again Mona declared “Arriving At Destination”. Once more…No. Dairy. Queen. We were now only a few miles from Interstate 40. We decided to give Mona one more chance. The next DQ was 15 miles away…in Knoxville, TN! Within seconds we had decided we had come this far, why not go the literal extra mile. This time, Keri decided to be the smart one and called to verify one actually existed at this location. First call was a misdial and she connected to someone’s residence. On second try, she hit pay dirt. Someone from DQ answered. BUT! In her sweetest Tennessee accent, the employee informed us that DQ had closed fifteen minutes earlier. We were now well on our way to Knoxville, TN to a DQ that was already closed. We could either laugh or cry. We decided to laugh.
We had one final choice. We could cut our losses or we could risk being burned by Mona yet again. Yep. We are gluttens for punishment, so we consulted Mona one more time. This time, we were directed to Newport, TN…the opposite direction of Knoxville. Good news about heading in this direction…at least we were pointed toward home AND we would be avoiding the Gatlinburg traffic…albeit a very round-about detour. Once again, we called to verify. The ice cream shop did in fact exist but it would close at 10:00 pm. Fortunately, the drive-thru would be open until 11:00. It was 9:25 (yes, we had been searching for ice cream for an hour and a half!). The race was on. We could most certainly go through the drive-thru, but at this point, it was all about the principle of enjoying our cones while planting our butts on the hard laminated booths inside the establishment! We aren’t stubborn souls, now are we? LOL!
With 6 miles to go and 15 minutes left to get there, we thought we had made it. Then would you know, we hit a total lock-down on moving traffic. A local fair had ended and they were diverting traffic back onto the highway. Looked as if we were not going to make it after all. But the ice cream gods decided to smile down upon us and the traffic eventually began to move, When we spotted the glowing red DQ sign, we let out a whoop to be heard throughout the state of Tennessee! We pulled into the parking lot at 9:56 and we were eating ice cream by 9:59!
I’m sure you can imagine that was THE best ice cream we had ever eaten. Given we had traveled 2 hours, passed numerous Marble Slabs, multiple Baskin-Robbins and a mutlitude of McDonald’s (my favorite for a quick fix), we HAD to have DQ! By the time we got back to the camper (10:45 pm), I did a quick assessment and realized we could have driven to Asheville (home) and back in the same amount of time! And I know EXACTLY where the DQ is located in Asheville. To HECK with Mona!!!
One final side note…Keri decided to make the trouble worth it. After finishing her first medium-sized cone…she went back for a second! This time she decided to save calories and only ordered a small. As I’ve said many times before….she is sooooooo my daughter!