For those of us who like to roam and ramble there is an old saying…’Itchy Feet.’ The prospect of travel has always excited me. I can remember that just going to another town or especially a state or more away from my home state of Illinois…was like a Lewis and Clark Expedition to me when I was a lad. A night in a motel or hotel was so different than what I was accustomed to that I could hardly sleep in view of the strange surroundings that I found myself in. I felt a bit like Aaron who told his mom when we were spending a night in a hotel and he discovered a King James Bible in one of the drawers, ‘Mommy I am going to read this Bible…all night!’ I know that in the late 1990’s when we were in the midst of our Great Eastern Adventure and spending two nights in Manhattan…that there was so much loud and interesting night excitement that was just below our hotel window…that each of us had to look out of our windows on numerous occasions to receive our update on the city that never sleeps.
Travel is the rare spice of life…that you can not find just anywhere that you look. During our early years of marriage and even before Aaron and Jonathon were born we would drive two or three nights journey to the south. We loved Tennessee and still do. MJ and I had breakfast in a Cracker Barrel restaurant this morning in Marion, Illinois. When we were traveling to Tennessee in the 70’s there were no Cracker Barrel eateries much beyond the Tennessee border. Each time that we dined in one…I noticed the life like statues called Tom Clark Gnomes or Cairn and wanted badly to purchase one…but there was no money for such artistic endeavors in those days. Indeed we took short overnight trips because, ‘The gas money could give out in Gurnsey,’ as Cousin Eddie told Clark Griswold in the holiday classic…’Christmas Vacation. Gatlinburg, Tennessee was our favorite destination. We loved to stay a few nights in the picturesque town.that is nestled at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. There is a hotel in the town that is built over the Little Pigeon river and the sound of the rushing water from the river is a delight. Many times we have driven into the Smoky’s and visited the old settlement of Cades Cove. ‘The valley has a rich history. For hundreds of years Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the Cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored 18th and 19th century structures. ‘ Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were so enamored with the Cove that we purchased hand made replicas of each of the buildings and proudly display them to this day.
Several Christmases we had the tradition of meeting our friends, Faye and Steve, for a three our four night stay in Gatlinburg. Usually we would arrive just before the end of Christmas…after enjoying a wonderful holiday feast with Ron and Mary Jane and Tara and Mrs. Moore. I vividly recall Steve and I standing out on the balcony of our condo that we had rented that was located in full view off the Smokies and the brightly lit town below. As the smoke lay on the mountains and the Christmas lights sparkled in holiday reverence below…I considered that I had not felt a more peaceful feeling.
Travel affords an education that you can not receive in the finest universities. It is a bias and prejudice deflator…if you allow it to perform it’s good work on you. You learn that God has many children…and that he loves them all…