we decided to take a little day-trip and see some of north carolina's places of interest. the first stop on our itinerary was cherokee. there's an outdoor play that's a re-enactment of the trail of tears, the cherokee indian museum, and a working cherokee village with demonstrations of the way they make things and live. sounded good to us, only when we got there everything was closed for the season. the museum was open, but it was pretty expensive and neither art nor i were really that interested in paying an arm and leg to see some beads and drums. so we decided to move on.
the entrance to the smoky mountain nat'l park was only a few miles away, so we headed in that direction. my dad had told us about an interpretive center that was a working village featuring stuff from early settlers. which sounded fun, but like everything fun in this state it too was closed.
we kept driving to see if anything fun that was open might cross our path. there was a sign that said "mingus mill," so we pulled off to see what lay therein. it was an old grain mill, and we walked around inside and watched the corn being ground by the huge millstone. the boys really liked it, and the smell of the old rotten wood of the building reminded me pleasantly of the museum where we used to live.
after the mill, we drove on. and on. and on, until finally the road spit us out in gatlinburg, tennessee. which was fun, since that's a state i've never been to before. i'd heard lots of good things about gatlinburg, and several people, my brother included, have had their honeymoons there. but after walking around for a few hours in the busy, touristy downtown, i was left to wonder what all was so great about it. everything was expensive--i had seen the ripley's believe it or not museum and was pretty excited to go there, but it was 20 bucks a person to get in, and kids were NOT free. disappointed, we walked on and found a little place where you could ride the ski lift up the mountain. it wasn't cheap either, but it was something i thought the kids would be guaranteed to like. they did. though having a two year old on a rickety ski lift with only a thin bar to keep us in was somewhat scary.
after the ski lift we went to the smoky mountain candy factory, and watched a guy making taffy. i swear, that little rotating taffy pull machine is pretty mesmerizing--i could have sat there for hours watching it turn and pull. we got some taffy for cynde (neither of us are really candy people) and some chocolate and went on.
after awhile we realized there wasn't much cheap or free to see, and the road home was long and winding, so we called it a day. i got the kids in their seats, we sat down, and my dad's truck wouldn't start. i tried not to panic. no AAA card, no way of getting to an auto parts store, and we're a state away from my dad. of course there were no jumper cables in the truck, despite the fact that art had given my dad not one but TWO sets of them when we moved up here. art had some choice words to say about that. we called my dad, who said he'd try to talk to triple A for us, and i prayed. don't ask me why, but every time i saw a truck drive by i thought, "i bet that guy has jumper cables." as if people with trucks are generally more prepared than a sedan owner. sure enough, a guy in a flannel drove by in a truck, and i pointed to him and said to art, "ask him, i bet he's got some!" and he did. he was the nicest guy, all smiles and everything. he tipped his hat at me when i said thank you, and said he was really glad he could help--he looked like he meant it, too, which after living in california and florida seems kind of weird. the truck started right away, and we thanked him again before getting on the road.
i was so grateful to that guy. it may not seem like a big deal, but when you're the one stranded it certainly is.
the road home was quiet and pretty, and after a half hour or so both kids were sound asleep. and that was the end of a pretty good day.