I’ve been a little busy living life and not blogging about it, but am back to conclude the story of our Girl’s Weekend. Saturday morning we woke up early to head to the Smoky Mountains for the day. It was a very foggy morning, but as we entered the park near the town of Townsend, things cleared up.
Driving along Little River Road we were headed to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. It is a beautiful drive along a rocky river that drops off to the left or right of the road. The girls kept wanting to pull over for pictures, though I knew even more gorgeous views were ahead. We enjoyed getting in and out of the car and taking photos, getting fresh air, and taking in all the scenery.
At the visitor center, there is a great 20 minute video that runs every half hour on the hour/thirty, and a small but well done museum display of the animals and plants found in the Smokies. And restrooms. We reloaded for our main destination, Clingmans Dome.
This is the highest point not only in the park, but the highest point in Tennessee and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. I wanted to be sure the Bunko girls got nice and high while in the Smokies, and they did.
A couple of us hung around the visitor center, and another group took the short but steep hike to the dome. They enjoyed spending a little time on the Appalachian Trail which runs throughout the park. Vicky grabbed the walking stick last-minute I’m pretty sure, love the enthusiasm!
Gorgeous views and a dramatic morning.
Next stop was a roadside picnic. We didn’t have a firm destination, and someone called out from the back of the van, how about up there? There were some parking spots, and we broke out the PBJ sandwiches and fruit and waters/pops. We explored a short path which brought us down to the river for more picture taking.
What a fabulous afternoon!
As we left the park, we watched a very long line of cars trying to get into Gatlinburg and the park, probably miles long. The ladies were all grateful I pushed them to the early start that morning, since we avoided traffic and were back poolside by around 3pm.
We kicked back with leftover appetizers and bloody mary’s, enjoyed a rowdy game of LCR, and shared more stories and photos. That evening the plan was to have a more formal dinner. As some of us were inside chatting, one of the (unnamed) ladies who was sitting outside came in and suggested the group outside was really not that hungry and were thinking about skipping the “formal” meal. Hmmmmm. Lisa (who was inside) wondered out loud, who was in the group sitting outside and how many of them were part of the “Saturday night dinner preparation committee?” I went out to take a poll, and sure enough, 4 out of 5 sheepish hands were raised when that question was posed. BUSTED! We laughed hard, and before long, lots of hands were busy prepping for a sit down dinner.
After candles were lit, and another round of group photos were taken, we sat down to a lovely meal of grilled chicken, salad and bread. We prayed together and toasted to our friendship, and future health and happiness. And a special toast for Denise whose birthday was in just two days. For dessert, we split up delicious cupcakes from a local cupcake shop.
Our final event of the day was sharing “Our Favorite Things.” In advance of our weekend, we asked each girl to bring 4 identical items that represented something she enjoyed, aka a favorite thing. After dinner, we pulled names from a hat and described our favorite things, then pulled 4 names to share our items with. It was really the icing on the cake, one more chance to share and laugh that evening.
Our favorite things included padded running socks, Starbucks gift card, Streams in the Desert daily devotional, personalized ceramic pumpkin dish (hand signed by each of us on back), nail polish/file, chocolate covered hazelnuts, avocado peeler, the OvGlove (use in oven, grill, heat proof), and red fuzzy slippers. I got this idea from the blog The Nester, and it was a blast.
All good things must come to an end. On Sunday, we packed our bags and did one more drive downtown Knoxville to walk around Volunteer Landing and then revisit Market Square.
We ended up on Gay Street and broke bread together for the last time, using up the balance of our “kitty” fund. The airport drop-off was bittersweet. We were all so grateful to have shared a joyous weekend, and happy to be returning to good lives, but I for one was very sad to say goodbye to my “besties.” As I drove away to return the rental van, I got teary thinking that the large van was definitely not meant for one person!!
But oh, to have had the fabulous 2012 Celebration of Friendship! I believe you can go to amazing places, and you can have amazing experiences, but the greatest gift of all is being with amazing people who love to throw their heads back in laughter together. My cup was full!
Finally, remember this little package we’re holding in photo below that Denise graced all of us with day 1?
If you look back at the Favorite Things photo shown two photos above you’ll see an adorable custom made black picture frame with beautiful white and silver accents. The framed note listed our names, date and event, with small tags “2012 A Celebration of Friendship” and “50 and Fabulous,” and once filled with a group photo, the note became the backing of the photo.
Then, to top things off, yesterday in the mail I received the DVD movie memory of the week that Laura created. Can you say WOW, too much fun and I guarantee each girl back at home viewing it threw her head back in laughter one more time! Thank you God for this talented and creative group of gals.
Julie and Denise woke up early and took this sunrise shot Sunday morning from my front door. Nice!
p.s. Sandy asked to see a photo of Tom and Kevin’s getaway weekend, they were away zip-lining that weekend in Ashville, NC…would you believe not a single photo came home with them? They had an awesome weekend as well, zip-lining through forests of colorful fall leaves at their peak.