Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good-bye Rocky Top

Today was a travel day. We moved down I-81 and I-40 to Sevierville, TN. Even with four weeks here, there are several items on our “must see” list that have not been checked off: The Breaks Interstate Park (the Grand Canyon of the South), the Exchange Place in Kingsport where currencies of different states was exchanged in the early 1800’s, the village of Blowing Rock in North Carolina, and many more restaurants. A bout with strep throat (Chuck) and a sinus infection (Kate) will knock out some opportunities for new experiences.

But the glass is more than half full of memories of new sights, good food and music, and some special people. As we traveled the westernmost portions of The Crooked Road, we saw this tribute to the Road outside the town of Duffield. Many of our stops along the Road were identified before we left Pennsylvania. This was the portion of our travels that The Organizer part of me had planned. We certainly found our way to many of the known activities, but more often than not it was a comment at a diner, a suggestion at the Visitors Center, or a newspaper story that led to true discoveries of the life of a community and the people in that community.

We thought we would be spending much of the recent four weeks in Bristol, VA/TN, but instead we spent much more time in the Kingsport area. Much of the reason for this change was our conversations with Betty McLain, our fellow Elderhostel traveler. We spent a second day with her before leaving, and as we toured Kingsport we learned about the economic and political vitality of the town.

And it was our campground hosts whose energy and devotion to providing the perfect setting for their guests that generated an atmosphere of conversation and interaction among the campers. Sue and Joe constantly seemed to be on the go getting people parked and settled, answering questions, running errands, and waiting up until 3:00 on race night until all “the kids” were home safely. The campground with its 34 RV sites, 4 cabins, and 5 tent sites, was small enough to get to know many fellow campers, yet large enough to be a challenge to meet the needs of a number of different people each day. This photo was taken at one of the rare times when Joe and Sue were in the same area, but even then they were moving.

On the last weekend, one of the guests asked Sue if she could play her auto harp for any guests who would like to stop by. Sue made the rounds to let everyone know of the impromptu performance. Not only was the guest’s playing flawless, but she told stories between numbers and was able to get the group to join in on several songs. The music fit the night magically, forming a pleasant memory of a wonderful time at Rocky Top Campground in Blountville, TN.

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