Road trip #2 was ten days in Tennessee, one of our favorite places, even with the allergens attacking us.
Our first few days were spent with the Cartwrights, who are like balm to the soul. We really cherished late nights of conversation with them, wise words, wise prayers, challenging topics, and laughter. They also organized an evening with all of the Karen community in Smyrna. We spent many days with this community when they first resettled in 2008, and it was absolutely bizarre to see them now. The kids are so tall, their English is stellar, and we have really just traded places with them: they have houses and cars and have adjusted to the cold; we have our little motorbike and live in the jungle. It was a really lovely evening.
Stephen and I then headed off to the Smoky Mountains, where we were meeting his family. We had the great joy of being there a couple days earlier, camping at Elkmont and doing a couple day hikes just the two of us. While the nights were very, very cold, it was a really nice time away.
We started early on the second morning, waking about 5am to pack up our campsite. We were on the trail before 7:30am and hiked LaConte, reaching 6,593 feet above sea level. It climbs fast, but we beat the recommended times on the pamphlets and were pretty proud of ourselves.
Our time with the Spurlocks was wonderful. With day hikes, visits to downtown Gatlinburg, the Donut Friar, and beautiful mountains out your back window, it’s hard for things to go too wrong, even when Poison Control is called after a three-year-old drank half a bottle of children’s Claritin.