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The Great Smoky Mountains and the Three Amigo's

Traveling with our sister Gillian in the Great Smokey Mountains

View The Music Legends Tour - April 2018 on littlesam1's travel map.

Mark, Gillian, and Larry - Newfoundland Gap Overlook - Great Smoky Mountains

Families of choice and extended families are wonderful. Our friend Gillian calls Mark and I her Bmore Bros. We think of her as part of our family also. We first met in person while on our honeymoon in Greece 11 years ago. Since that time we have had many adventures together. She visits us in Baltimore frequently. We have shared family events together. And we travel together frequently. She has met many of our local friends. My daughter in Atlanta calls Gillian her Manchester cousin. This past April Gillian flew across the pond from England to Baltimore once more and we took a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.


I love the Great Smoky Mountains. I have traveled there many times. My family spent several vacations in the Great Smoky's when I was growing up. I took my children there when they were young. Mark also loves the Great Smoky Mountains, particularly the Gatlinburg area. So we were very excited when Gillian told us she would like to do a southern road trip through the Smoky Mountains. Although we are very good friends and have spent a lot of time traveling together we had never really done a road trip together. And I was a bit concerned how we all would survive ten days in a car together without driving each other crazy. On an extended road trip there is always one person who tends to drive the others a little crazy before the trip is over. I just never realized that person would be me.

I drove the first day. Everything went well. Mark sat next to me in the front of the car. Gillian sat behind us in the back seat. I was focused on the road so my attention was occupied with road signs and highways. Mark and Gillian chatted and looked at landscapes. The day was pleasant. The second day Mark drove the car. I sat in the front seat and once again Gillian rode in the back behind us. The dynamics were a little different. I was not as occupied with the road and ended up playing with the radio and changing channels and music frequently. I think I even sang along a good bit with the music. Mark and Gillian for the most part overlooked all of this. We stopped at an Arby's for a quick lunch and I bought the greasiest sandwich on the menu. Gillian questioned my choice. And Mark said I would probably not travel well after eating it. Of course I paid no attention and then complained the rest of the day about an upset stomach and indigestion while still playing with radio most of the rest of the day.

Day three was a big game changer. Mark drove once more. But today Gillian and I switched seats so she could ride in the front and see more of the scenery. For sixty five years it never dawned on me that I might have a touch of A.D.D. I was never restless in school. My teachers never complained about me being hyper or anything. I sat in the back seat of the car and grew more fidgety by the hour. I laughed too much. I told too many jokes. I complained too much. And then I realized that I was the pain in the ass of the trip. The bad part is that after realizing this the more I tried to control it the worse it. When we finally arrived in Gatlinburg Mark and Gillian could not wait to escape the car. I won't go into details about the evening activities in Gatlinburg. I will say I tried to make amends for being so antsy in the car during the day. I was well aware that I had been a little bit hyper and tried my best to behave better that evening in Gatlinburg. Returning to our hotel after our first evening meal in Gatlinburg we passed several moonshine tasting establishments. I pointed out the first one but Mark and Gillian did not think it was the best idea. We were all a little tired and it had been a long day so they were ready to head back to the room for the evening. When we passed the third moonshine tasting location I decided to go inside with or without them. They patiently waited for me to complete the tasting. The samples were only in small thimble like cups. But after fifteen samples even cups that small tended to take an effect. Let's just say my hyperactivity in the car was nothing compared to my actions on the walk back to the hotel after the tasting.

The observation tower on the peak of Clingman's Dome

The next day all was forgiven. We had a fresh start. We did a wonderful drive and hike through a an area with restored mountain cabins. Then we decided to go to Clingman's Dome. Mark and I had both been to Clingman's Dome in the past and both really enjoyed it very much. At 6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. The trail is only half a mile. But there are warning signs that the trail is very steep. I first climbed the trail at Clingman's Dome fifty years ago when I was fifteen. Of course there is a big difference between being fifteen and being sixty five. And I felt everyone of the fifty years difference climbing the trail. Mark trudged onward up the steep trail while Gillian and I took a moment to rest and catch our breath. We were sitting on a bench in a rest area talking. A man walked over to us and said "Do you mind if I ask a question." We both said of course not. So he said to us "Can I ask where your accent is from?" Before Gillian even had a chance to answer Mr. Hyper Active Larry blurted out with a laugh "Oh I have a Baltimore accent." The man and Gillian both looked at me like I was crazy. Gillian said "Larry I think he is asking about my accent. I am from Manchester England." Well of course he was talking about Gillian. . Later we saw the same man on top of the tower and he once again made a joke about my saying I had a Baltimore accent. In my defense I have spent so much time with Gillian over the years that I don't really notice any accent. So of course I thought he meant me!

Larry on the observation tower at Clingman's Dome

Mark and Gillian on the Clingman's Dome trail back to the parking lot

We still had six more days left to our car trip. We had three days planned in Nashville and three more in the Memphis, Tennessee/Tunica, Mississippi area. For the most part I behaved myself. Gillian and Mark did not disown me. We returned home still good friends and have more travel adventures planned together this year. Please don't judge me. After all we all know who the real trouble maker is and I will use this photo below in my defense.

Gillian waking Mark up on a train in Germany

The Three Amigos

Posted by littlesam1 07:24 Archived in USA Tagged friends tennessee united_states road_trips great_smokey_mountains car_trips

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