Part of the reason I have always loved the mountains in East Tennessee is because my earliest memories of summer time road trips where here. I didn’t need a map after a certain point on the trip up when Tim and I came to look for a house, it was second nature to me after all these years. I’ve talked about how my grandfather was such an amazing man. He was part Cherokee and always seemed to know when it was going to rain and had a way with animals. His love of the mountains was contagious. Every family vacation that you went on year after year had those things you alllllllways did. Always. The Gatlinburg list for a younger me was pretty short, I was an easy to please kid: Sky lift, Ripley’s to see the giant marble sphere they have outside the building, and the Space needle. Those were my tacky tourist must do’s. But the thing I lived for on these family vacations? It involved bologna sandwiches, my grandmother’s Lincoln Town Car, sitting bitch in the front seat next to my grandfather, and driving through Cades Cove.
I’ve lost count of the pictures we have there and the memories I’ve kept with me over the years. And it is hard to make the drive without him and the bologna sandwich for a river side picnic.
To this day, I really think his ashes should have been spread here in the fall when the leaves change…After he died, every time I would see a bear or even the less exciting wild turkey through Cades Cove, I thought of him and our adventures. I believe everything happens for a reason. If there was a hand somewhere beyond pulling strings so that my life landed me here, well it wouldn’t take more than one guess to know who that was.Living here and seeing the mountains every morning, I know somewhere he is smiling, eating a bologna sandwich as I drive through the park.