Day VI (4/4/2014): This morning we did really well. It was still dark out when we woke up. Like a pair of clumsy Indians we broke camp. Indians, because we did it quietly, almost stealthily; and clumsy if we were held to their standards.
We got on the road to Nashville where we were to rendezvous with Whitney's dad, Bob and his girlfriend, Cheryl, at the airport (but more to that later) and on our way down from the mountain we actually got to see a beautiful sunrise.
Back in the car Whitney said, "Well now we can at least say that we saw one sun rise". I said, " I'm sure we're going to see at least eight or ten more." We're currently reconciling our expectations.
We stopped for breakfast at a Flapjack Cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Breakfast was nice. You know, nothing special: eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. (Whit interjecting here... Sam forgot the flapjacks in this food list). Special was the drive down Gatlinburg's main road, Parkway.
Imagine the buildings and businesses to the left and right of Parkway as a sort of an amusement park. There's a "Space Needle", theme restaurants and log cabins that house souvenir shops. Advertising these attractions are almost two story tall (!) neon lights and wood carved signs. All of this along the narrow Parkway, nestled into a somewhat claustrophobic seeming little valley at the doorstep of Smoky Mountain National Park. Now remember, we just had breakfast, so it's about 7:30am so we're driving through this bizarre amusement glimmering and glitzy ghost town.
On our trip to Nashville we left the Eastern Standard Timezone for the first time, which brings us back to the Bob & Cheryl rendezvous part of the story. You see, when Whitney texted her dad that we were on the way to pick him up he pointed out that we both were gaining an hour. He followed up with:
Find some unchartered miracle on the way :)
Without examining the facts too closely, we pulled off I-40 and made our way up a small, windy road following a whim to get to a vantage point and signs pointing to Cumberland Trail State Park. We didn't find a vantage point, which was a bit disappointing, but we did find the remains of a settlement and these gorgeous rock formations. I took a whole lot of pictures (and a 360° panorama which didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped), so I'll just leave these here for you to peruse.
Unfortunately for Bob and Cheryl, our combined time calculations failed completely. We were now a half hour plus the one hour exploration of our "unchartered miracle" late to our rendezvous point. NASA take note: if anyone's trying to pass on our resumes, don't bite. We're most likely going to send your interstellar probes to Lake George.
See you in Nashville!