What a great weekend. Mandy and her husband, Joe, daughter Ainsley and son Jack arrived with Gary’s mom, Eunice around 7:30 on Friday night (just a little traffic on the road). We got them settled into their cabin, then brought Eunice home to our coach and the couch. Since we planned to get an early start, we hung out at our campfire for a little while roasting marshmallows, then we all hit the sack.
The weather was perfect for a Saturday in Dollywood. We started with a Bojangles breakfast and then joined the line of others entering the park. Fortunately, Granny (Eunice) has a handicapped tag so we followed the blue dotted line into the handicapped parking area where we could walk into the gates. Everyone had a free ticket, so we strolled right in. Mandy headed up to the serious roller coasters as Joe and I helped the kids drive the 1950’s cars. What little kid doesn’t like the carousel? Poppy thought he’d win a guitar with a bucket of rings. Only one had to stay on a bottle, but not one did. At the top of the ferris wheel our son, Tristan called. So, how many of you have received a call on top of a ferris wheel? Cool. Even Granny enjoyed this ride. After a lunch of chicken and burgers, we looked at the Eagle sanctuary. It was unusual to see so many bald eagles in one place. They are so majestic, no wonder we chose it as America’s Freedom symbol. This barn own was looking at Ainsley a little too closely for her comfort. Before we knew it, we were hungry again, and since we did everything in the park that we wanted to, the kids used their Dolly Dollars to get a souvenir and we headed to the parking lot.
Father’s Day is coming up, and Joe was such a good sport all day, we promised him that we would go to Bass Pro Shop to get him a gift he had been craving and have dinner. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the one he wanted, but he did get a fish scale. The kind you weigh fish on, that is. We had dinner in the shop Grill, and this is what I ate: a pesto cheese and tomato pizza on flatbread with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I could only eat half, so took the other half home for another day.
The kids were exhausted and fell asleep on the way home. We were all tired, and hit the sack early, for the next day was Dollywood Splash Country day. It dawned bright and sunny with record temperatures predicted. We headed out for breakfast to Gatlinburg flapjacks. Delicious! Then on to Splash Country for water fun. We all had a blast and it was challenging to get moving water pictures. But here are a few:
We had a BBQ planned, but first Joe had to drive back to Bass Pro Shop to retrieve a forgotten credit card. Gary and Mandy ran to the store for some veggies, so I took the kids fishing with a hot dog and metal detecting. Before we got to the river, Jack heard a beep and the detector’s light flashed. He had found something! We didn’t think to bring anything to dig with, and there was nothing lying on the surface, so we used a sharp stone and dug like crazy. It still beeped, but we couldn’t dig deep enough, plus we were in the middle of the road. We gave up and headed to the river. We stuck a piece of hotdog on the hook, saw some little fish in the shadows and Jack tossed the line in. The fish swarmed the hot dog and Jack started reeling it in. Ugh oh, it got stuck on a log for good, and I had to cut the line. Bummer. We cut up the rest of the hot dog and fed the fish. They loved it. Now I know what to use for bait. Ainsley found a pretty barrette on the way home and I spotted half a robin’s egg. We had a great dinner and made s’mores using giant marshmallows – which I suggest you don’t use for s’mores, but just roasting and eating. Later that night, our boss called as asked us if we could work at Splash Country at 9 am. Ummmm, how about 12? That gave us some time to have one last breakfast with the fam before they had to head home. Pictures, packing and last time hugs with promises of driving safely and they were gone, and we got ready for work.
We started out in an assembly line for the menu items completing burgers, chicken tenders and grilled chicken sandwiches. It was 96 degrees outside the kitchen and I wish I knew how hot it was inside the kitchen. Our break found us at a patio table behind the host office with a cup of mini-melts for me and two chocolate chip cookies for Gary. We enjoyed our 45 minutes, and when we got back, I went to the Side Porch register, but Gary stayed on line. Then I wrapped 1200 cookies, sorted salad dressings, filled ice containers and then it was time to clean up. Since we were new that day, we got to clean the floors of all the grease. It took about 45 minutes to sweep and scrub them, but we didn’t have to rinse!! At 6:45 we were done (and done-in), limped over to the time clock and limped to the car. Tired beyond belief. Every bone and muscle was screaming ‘what do you think you are – 20??’ Enough of that job.
We actually were able to get up this morning for chemo, and once again, Gary slept and I read (and finished!) my book. We went home and fell into bed again, but didn’t sleep too long. We really didn’t want to waste the rest of this beautiful day, so climbed into the Jeep for some exploring in the cool Smokies. The Sugarland Visitor Center is also a museum and there is a short film about the Smokies which was very enlightening. It also has two hiking trails which we will come back to do on a cooler day and with proper footwear. I picked up a book on waterfall walks in the Smokies and NC mountains that was recommended to me by dear friend, Terri. We can’t wait until they finish clearing the trails due to the recent storms so we can do some hiking. Maybe in a couple more weeks…