Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Week Getaway + Vow Renewal = Best Vacation Ever!

Brent and I had an anniversary in October. It wasn't a 10th or a 15th or any of the usual "big" years. But we felt like it was time to mark that special day in a big way. We loved our real wedding ceremony which was informal and outdoors on the edge of Otterbein Lake at Brent's grandparents' home. But we felt that we would like to have the experience of getting all dressed up and reminding each other that we would be happy to do it all over again. So we did!

We planned a week long getaway to the Smoky Mountains. I told everyone how excited I was and I don't think anyone really understood why. Brent and I had never spent a week alone ever. I already had kids when we got married and it just never seemed like something we could do. We didn't mind this but we started thinking that maybe it was time. So we lined up grandparents and wrote out schedules. I found great helpers to watch River Knits for the week. And with much excitement, we headed south! Before we left Brent had secretly put a new message on our car. It took me a while to catch on.

We planned a lunch time stop in Berea, Kentucky and ate at the unique little restaurant called Papa Leno's. I never knew that it was possible for garlic bread to be called decadent, but this was before I had eaten at Papa Leno's! If you are ever driving by Berea, treat yourself to lunch there and find out why.

While in Berea we saw that there was a solar tour of homes going on. We didn't have time to take the tour but we did stroll around the EcoVillage on the campus of Berea College. This is what apartment living should be like!

We finally went on our way towards the Smokies, made our way through the bewildering assemblage of carnival like tourist traps that make up Pigeon Forge to find our cabin, the Snuggy Bug. We laughed that the Snuggy Bug was really a lot like our own house. Who else drives two states away to stay in a house that is a lot like home? Apparently we do anyway!

The Snuggy Bug was advertised as being a one bedroom cabin in wooded setting. This was a little bit of a misnomer since it was really a one ROOM cabin. It did show us that you can do a lot of living in a small space. The open beams in the ceiling made it feel spacious and open even though it was about the size of our living room. We loved it!

One of the first things we were looking forward to was our vow renewal. Amanda and Michelle had helped me pick out a beautiful dress. I even had something borrowed--Amanda's cashmere shawl! --to go with the something old, new and blue. I had a true Tennessee experience by having my hair done at a local salon. While I was there Brent rented a tux, bought flowers and waited patiently. It was really fun to have my hair done fancy, but I was really looking forward to seeing my handsome man in a tux. I wasn't disappointed!

Our vow renewal ceremony was simple and short but left me with misty eyes and an overflowing heart. We have a (not digital) picture taken by the photographer that I love. Brent and I are facing each other and he is looking at me with a smile and holding my chin as if he is about to kiss me. There is a special sparkle in that picture that sums up my feelings about our special day.

After our vow renewal ceremony we ate a delicious meal at a neat little restaurant called the Greenbrier Inn. It was a lodge for travelers long ago, but is now a restaurant overlooking the mountains. Brent found a description in a travel brochure, or we would never have found it since it was at the end of a dead end road that looked like it went no where. I surprised Brent by eating every bit of an enormous steak. The food was good, but the company was better! We strolled around Gatlinburg that evening in our fancy clothes. Well wishers cheered us on and newlyweds held up their new rings in a sign of solidarity. We didn't care that we had been married for years; it felt exhilarating. I especially enjoyed knowing that my husband cared enough to do it all again, and in some ways, for the first time.

The rest of the week was as leisurely and decadent as we could make it. We ate at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant not once but twice because we just couldn't stay away from the apple fritters with fresh applebutter. We toured the Great Smoky Mountain National Park--from Cade's Cove

to Clingman's Dome.

We stepped on the Applachian trail just to say we did.

In fact Brent jumped the Appalachian Trail...

We took a sky lift up the mountains, and I bought a pair of new shoes (that will show off handknit socks of course).

We decided we've seen enough of old farm settlements that are designed to recreate history though. We're ready to blend the best of the old fashioned ways, with the best of the new, so we can do it ourselves! So I made Brent promise that this stop at this farm recreation by the welcome center on the North Carolina side was the last time we really need to see how they farmed in the 1800's. We've seen it all, in every state we've ever been in, and really we've started to figure out that we already know all that stuff and more. How much corn do you really need to look at anyway?

My favorite thing we saw was the Motor Nature Trail, a winding one lane trip through rather dense forest. We saw ruins of old cabins,

dense forest,

primeval mountain streams

and even 3 bears!

All too soon our week was over and it was time to come home. As we headed north, looking forward to seeing our kids and thinking about what a great time we had, we realized that we were getting hungry. We figured we were pretty close to Berea again so the pull of Papa Leno's breadsticks guided our car into town once again. We were pretty used to being decadent by then, so it was an easy choice!

We were of course glad to be home but we returned a little different from when we left. We were happier, lighter, and we knew more than ever that we have something very special. Most of all we knew that we won't wait 11 years to do it again!