My boyfriend, Jesse, and I returned home yesterday at 3am (well, that would technically be today) from our 14 hour drive up from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We spent five days in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park area and it just so happened, it rained super hard all week- the radio was warning about hail too. I had thought that we could go hiking for hours each day, feel the sun warming our skin, Camelback slung across my shoulder, and explore the Appalachian trail... but it poured and hailed smashing those imaginary expectations. Being the innovative and resilient people we are, we used the rain as an excuse to sleep in until 12pm each day and then venture out. On day one, we hiked for maybe a quarter-of-a-mile beginning at the Newfound Gap trail, but spontaneously the heavens broke apart and gushes of rain poured on us. We ran back towards the car getting totally soaked to the bone in the process. Here's a pic after we made it back to the car!
Running in the rain, hopping over the cut logs used to navigate the water off the trail, leaping over tree branches, and avoiding puddles (even though my shoes were completely soaked) I reconnected with my inner child! I was laughing running down the trail in the rain and it was exactly what I needed to start my vacation!
On the second day, we avoided hiking. Instead, we traveled 30 minutes to the must-see Tuckleechee Caverns, which were totally breath-taking. If you ever go the the mid-west, you gotta see the these! They are 400-feet deep in the earth with stalactites, formations beginning on the roof, and stalagmites, which form from the ground up. In addition to the amazing, wondrous caves of calcium, salt, water, and other components, the Tuckleechee Caverns shop sold irresistible homemade fudge! Jesse picked Reese's Peanut Butter and Chocolate and I picked Cookie's and Cream!
I have to say, it was kinda eerie being so far under the earth... yes, we were with a group of all ages, including a couple kids, parents, and more mature adults. All the same, the EPIC earthy formations on the ground cradled a copper-colored river that was rushing (quite loud with the echoes in the cave) and intensified because of the pouring rain above. If I'm remembering correctly, the caverns were discovered by two boys in the 1950's with only a candle light to guide their way along the clay-colored slopes. To me, these stalagmites look like giant drip castles- you know, the ones that you would make as a little kid by the beach. You would plop down by the edge of the waves were the sand was moist and gloppy. Then, take a handful of sand and let a droplet at a time build upon one another creating little drip castles!
Isn't this so beautiful!? Jesse has recently gotten into photography. The pictures of the mountains in no way whatsoever, not even partially demonstrate the beauty, the magnificence, and vastness of the Smokeys. The billowing clouds and mystical fog do look like smoke and add to the beauty, but make driving at night difficult. As we drove up the winding roads up the mountain to the various visitor centers, our ears began to pop. The Great Smokey Mountian National Park is such a beautiful environment, like a fresh bath for the senses, and the park itself is one of our national treasures. On the border of the park is your typical society, neon lights flashing limited time-sensitive sales, soon-to-be-ending discounts, and the must-have "resort wear" apparel.
Our biggest challenge was navigating the eight lane boulevard as our GPS told us how to get from our home for the week, River Stone Resort and Spa, Publix, the food store, to the Pigeon Forge Community Center for yoga, and to the Sevier Humane Society, where we adopted our cat babies just before returning home!
Meet Sarah, our 8 week old cat baby from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. She slept on my lap for most of the 14 hour drive getting up here and there to check on her friend, Catia, age 10 months.
We casually went to the Humane Society as part of our master-mind plans of avoiding the rain and finding something else to do instead of hiking...even though we planned this whole trip around hiking. Jesse and I both love pets, especially cats. We were trying to brain storm what to do and finally decided on the Animal Shelter and simply petting animals that needed some love. Talk about driving over one-lane, windy roads, that make you wonder whether or not you are heading to an isolated place to be murdered or to an actual animal shelter. Upon pulling up into the mile long driveway to the shelter, we were greeted by howls from the pups alerting each other to our presence. After playing with a floppy-eared, lean hound built for running that was far more interested in sniffing the ground and the air than us, we headed over to the cat bungelow- a trailer filled with cats. Some had their own cages. But, the kittens and cats that were happy being friendly with one another were in a room together. A basket of kittens brightened my rainy day! After an hour, we decided on adopting!
Catia, our black mustache cat baby, slept on Jesse's lap while driving! At first, she got acclimated to the car by walking on the dash board preventing him from seeing! The cat-sized cardboard box the shelter gave us was no match for her- She destroyed...hmmm, rather ravaged would be a better fit. She ravaged the box in a matter of minutes. Good thing Walmart was 10 minutes down the road. Jesse ran in and bought a dog crate for the two of them. The whole time they were in it, they serenaded us with meows, chirps, and cries. Immediately after letting them out, they would find our laps, curl up, and sleep. As I type this blog post, Sarah as wedged herself between my belly and my right arm, creating the perfect, little nook for a cat nap. Here's a pic of both of them on Jesse's lap cuddling together!
So, after all the wonderful moments this past week and cat nose kisses, I received two more Katie's Goddess Line online orders. My mom (my #1 fan and amazing letter-writer!) has been mailing my promotional, Katie's Goddess Line postcards to all of her friends. Two women from Maryland, where I was born (fun fact about my life) who knew my mom from her "Mother's Together" support/social group just ordered online! My mom would breastfeed my younger sister at these meetings and likewise I remember her friends doing the same with their babies. But most importantly, I have a vivid memory one of them giving me glitter glue pens to play with while they chatted, which made my four-year-old day! Now their Katie's Goddess Line online orders made my 25-year-old day!