Road Trip: Mountaintops and Recoils
This is the first in a series of posts about a road trip I took in June 2016 through several states, with several days spent in the Smoky Mountains. This was my first vacation since the trip to London the previous September.
Friday PM: We got on the road Friday after putting in a near-full day at the office. After dealing with traffic congestion due to accidents on I-66 and I-81, we made our detour of a turn toward Big Stone Gap (BSG). But first, we stopped at a small town called Castlewood. The UMWA and the Funds share a field office there, but we got there too late to say hello to the staff. A little while later we go to our hotel in BSG. From DC, the total time on the road was nearly 8 hours. Dinner was at a diner at the hotel called the Huddle House.
Saturday AM: We met up with a fellow Funds employee, Cathy Johnson and her husband Gary. They are BSG natives and community leaders. Gary graciously drove us around on a tour of the town, up to a working (non-union) mine, and even to a high point in Kentucky that allowed us to see the devastation left behind from mountaintop removal mining. They brought us to a little lake they hangout at, and showed us the guns they use. Even a 9mm has a loud crack and a bit of a recoil that is nothing like what Hollywood pretends.
Saturday PM: After saying goodbye to Cathy and Gary, we got back on the road and ended up in the middle of nowhere. Well, I knew it was rural eastern Tennessee, but that was about it. We stumbled upon a Gray Fossil Site and Museum where paleontologists have found red panda and rhino fossils from 5 millions years ago. Later, Ann found a cemetery and The Telford House, sites associated with her ancestors. It reminded me that I missed a work-related job in Fairmont that would have afforded me a similar chance, had I been paying attention. But then we kinda got lost in some torrential downpour.
We finally got to The Greystone Lodge on the River in Gatlinburg around 6:30. Not as great as it sounded, but so far it’s fine enough. Every room is supposed to have a view of this creek-like river from the balcony, but ours ain’t much of a view.
Sunday AM: Ann is at one of those timeshare marketing drags, while I’m catching up on the blog. We have until Wednesday AM here in Gatlinburg, but still hadn’t figured out what we’ll do.