Fall Break and Clingman’s Dome

Kevin’s eighth grade class was commissioned this month during a candelight ceremony.  He attends mass before school every Monday and Friday and they have great music and a junior high choir.  Love the first song, “Mountains of God.”  The commissioning ceremony included the eighth graders entering the church carrying candles, while all other grades watched.  It was a first Friday of the month, which is dress day (dress shirt, tie.)  Warning, very fuzzy photos give you general impression and no specifics.

After they lined the walls of the church, their teachers gave readings and the priest spoke of how they are now the leaders of the school and are role models for all the other children.

What a wonderful tradition!  Kevin confessed later his candle blew out as he entered the church, but we both agreed he is still a leader.  We’ve received nice feedback that he is fitting in well with his classmates and that he is a leader in the classroom.

This weekend his school had a five day “fall break” weekend, so Kevin and I took off for Gatlinberg Friday.  On the way, Kevin spotted a Nike Outlet where he stocked up on a few nice sports items and I scored a new pair of gym shoes.  Next, we visited the Space Needle, a tall tower in the center of Gatlinberg, with an arcade game center at the base.

I won $75,000 and $40,000 playing “do you want to be a millionaire” (yes I do.)  He dominated the basketball game (broken scorer, after sinking 75% of his shots he still had ZERO and was awarded one stinking ticket) and he was a triple crown horse racing champion (including a photo finish win.)

1,200 tickets later we laughed at the prize counter, struggling to decide between the FBI play kit (hand cuffs, pistol, badge and glasses), whoopie cushion, or ping pong ball shooting gun (ultimate winner.)  There were regrets later when the ping pong balls were all crushed and the gun broken, he joked that he really wished he had gone for the FBI play kit.  Which is officially on my list of things to get him for his 14th birthday next week.

We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch, and overall, really enjoyed downtown Gatlinberg. It was all dressed up for fall and was a quaint town.

Next stop was the Smoky Mountains, where we grabbed a map at the Sugarland Visitor Center (just a couple miles from Gatlinberg) and headed up the mountain for Clingman’s Dome.  Just 14 miles away, but twisty turny roads take about 45 minutes to get there.   Beautiful drive, the higher we drove the more colorful the leaves, though there is still a lot of green.

Many gorgeous views along the way, with a very pretty stop off a few miles before the dome for those who want the view without the hike.

From the Clingman’s Dome parking lot, it’s a half-mile hike to the “dome” with more beauty all around.

The hike is short but steep, and for the record, it’s official, Kevin is in better shape than me.

He was inspired by the hills, and just got back from a run in our hilly neighborhood.

There have been many, many frasier fir trees killed by an invasive insect,  so you see old dead wood alongside new growth.

We were practically in the clouds. It was not a clear day but the mist added to the moment.

He was a super trooper to do the dome with his mom, and I loved it.

Can’t wait to see the park in two weeks with college girlfriends when colors should be even more fabulous.  We put on a good cd and cruised out of the park in reflective moods (mostly me, Kevin fell asleep after taking a few pictures out the car window.)

And inquiring minds want to know…what’s the story behind the University of Minnesota shoe tree I showed a picture of in my last post:

From the Univ of Minn website, it is one of the Top 10 University of MN Traditions:

“Shoe Tree

Though you won’t find any plaques commemorating the “shoe tree,” it is one of the more quirky and interesting traditions at the U of M. Located near the southwest corner of the Washington Avenue Bridge, the tree’s branches are loaded with the shoes of University alumni who tossed their kickers into the tree to celebrate their graduation.”

Hope everyone is enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful colors of fall!

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2 Responses to Fall Break and Clingman’s Dome

  1. Sandi Kemerling says:

    Great photos! Thrilled you guys are embracing your new home! Love it! Can’t wait to visit and share in the beauty. Carol you look great! Can’t wait to see pictures of your “girls weekend”! Should be fun, interesting and very exciting!! Love you guys!

  2. Aunt "B" says:

    Many thanks for the info on the “shoe tree”. It really has a very different meaning in this part of the world…..it usually means there is a special “store” nearby. Someday after you finish writing your book you can take up being a travel guide as you do one heck of a job sharing your adventures with words and pictures. Luv, Aunt B

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