When my son told me we were once again going to Pigeon Forge, I hoped to check off a few items on that proverbial bucket list. But, would I actually go through with those plans?
When we got up on day two, after getting dressed, I took Bella out for a couple of laps around the campground. I wanted her to take care of her needs before we left. Neither of us wanted any surprises when we got back. Bella taken care of we headed out for breakfast. The pancake place was packed so we returned to the Cracker Barrel for a quick breakfast and hit the road for the first item on the list. A list that has been growing but had few items checked off. Maybe today would be the first.
My son saw a place on the way end that he wanted to try and he knew I had mentioned these before. A mountain coaster. Sort of like a roller coaster but slower and without the loop de loops. I quit riding roller coasters many years ago, but I thought, hoped I could handle this.
We pulled into the parking lot, stopped the car and left all that we didn’t want to lose tucked away within the not really secret places. My son purchased our tickets and we moved to take our place in line. We were early so the line wasn’t terribly long. As we were waiting, my son noticed that a yellow light had begun flashing and that nothing was moving. We were in line, he had paid for tickets, no backing out now. I didn’t time it, but it was maybe fifteen minutes or so later when things began running again. Two of the ‘cars’ were removed from the track after having lost their back supports. How I do not know. Did they lose riders as well? I didn’t ask. Suddenly it was our turn. Fear begone, I’m doing this.
I took my seat in the car and managed to get a stubborn seat belt fastened just as the car began to pull away. What have I gotten myself into? Okay, I’m fine. Its fine. Everything is fine. I’m doing this. Help.
After figuring out the hand controls and knowing that the maximum speed was around thirty-five miles per hour (56.32704 kph according to the conversion tool) I was breathing slightly easier. As the coaster began its climb, I was having another too late round of second thoughts. Where is the excitement and anticipation of my childhood? Where did I lose that? At what point, did I allow fear and anxiety to come into control? As the coaster climbed, I listened and shoved aside all those fearful thoughts. In its place I was reminding myself of the kids I had watched so excited about their turn on the ride.
I did enjoy the ride. I did not allow it to reach top speed because, well, because. But I did enjoy myself. I did check that item on the list. I would do it again. Even though every time the automated voice said to hurry there were bears, I would think, then the bear is going to just get me. The bears were wooden cut outs but still. Obviously I was unable to take any photos and refused to purchase any taken there as..well.. prices.
By the time we exited the ride the line had grown much longer. My son commented that was why he wanted to arrive as early as we did, to avoid what we passed on our way back to the car.
I wanted to go to Cade’s Cove, but my son wasn’t interested. His comments were that it was too hot, it would be too crowded and he just knew we wouldn’t see any wildlife with so many people around. He was paying for the trip so I didn’t argue. Instead we hit a few of the shops in town. One of which was a Jeep store. Stocked with some parts and lots of Jeep themed souvenirs. I bought an over priced shirt and left a small rubber duck with the card on it about our local upcoming Jeep event. My son saw a sign over a shop for NASCAR so we wandered into that building. Unfortunately for him, the thing he was interested in only had one aisle in the entire building and nothing that caught his attention. We did go upstairs to find three quarters of the floor space to be filled with Christmas items. Nah, not yet.
Back at the camper I walked Bella while my son decided he wanted to take advantage of the river that flowed behind our camper. While walking her I found out more about the stabbing in the campground the night before. I was told that the guy had been stabbed six times, was hospitalized but it looked as if he would make it. While what I was being told could be labeled hearsay, I was relieved to know how the camp regulars stood together to take care of the victim.
Once back at the camper I walked Bella down to the river. Bella loves playing in water from a garden hose, the river was a new experience. This river along the camp ground is relatively shallow and she did walk out into the water a short way, she was quick to walk back out. When she saw my son though she thought he was in danger and like any good dog, tried to get to him to save him.
Having Bella with us made it easier to talk with other campers. Dogs, especially good dogs, bring out the friendly in people. Even the times when we would walk past a camp spot and the dogs there barked, gave opportunity for brief conversation. Bella also was helping me return to reaching that ten thousand step goal.
Taking this trip is a wonderful lesson is many ways. I have been more outspoken, talking with strangers like I haven’t in a very long while. Doing things like following my son more expertly than I did last year. Seeing things with a renewed vision. Stepping outside my comfort zone, that box that had become more like a prison. Watching God taking care of us all along the way. I needed this, and I am very glad we did this.
Part One of this is here: https://rebeccasrevels.wordpress.com/2022/07/11/ive-been-away/