36(ish) Hours in Tennessee

There is no better place to be in autumn than the Smoky Mountains. Even New England and Michigan don’t compare. Greg and I took a little trip this weekend to visit my dad and my stepmother in Cosby, right on the edge of the National Park. It wasn’t the smoothest trip we’ve ever taken, but we did enjoy ourselves. And we brought the whole family.

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We left on Friday afternoon, thinking it would be a five hour drive. It wound up being seven, both there and back. I don’t think anyone can say they have a good dog until they’ve spent fourteen hours in a car with it, but I can now authoritatively say we have The Best Dog. She was on her best behavior the whole time. Mostly she just curled up in the back and snoozed. Occasionally she likes to pop up in the front seat to help navigate.

When we got into Tennessee on Friday night we had to introduce Zora not only to her grandparents, but to some other animals. The hardest to charm was this little diva, Brittany:

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Brittany is not interested in sharing anything – toys, lap space, or her house. But she’s so cute, you sort of overlook it. I was afraid Zora would be hostile to her, but actually Zora was pretty meek in the face of Brittany’s growls and barks. That’s a lot of dog in that fifteen pound package.

There was also Callie the calico:

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She mostly ignored Zora. Zora did not ignore her. So Callie had to be put in her kitty jungle crate whenever Zora was out and about. But really, Zora’s interest in Callie paled in comparison to her fascination with Slim the snake:

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The only time Zora barked the entire weekend was when the snake started moving. I don’t blame her. Snakes are pretty interesting.

We had planned to spend most of Saturday hiking in the park, but I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and was in no condition to go anywhere. I didn’t start feeling better until that evening, and by then it was too late to go anywhere. And Zora wasn’t doing much better; while I was trying to sleep it off, she curled up on the bed with me and then barfed all over the sheets. Fun times.

But, my dad and Judy live on some gorgeous property, and we still got a taste of autumn. And I think Zora had a great time running around in the leaves.

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At the bottom of Dad and Judy’s property is a little creek. One of my favorite things about it is that there are a number of abandoned moonshine stills lying around. Cocke County, Tennessee used to be the moonshine capital of the country, and people still make shine back in the hills.

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Even though we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do, it was nice to spend time with family and enjoy a little bit of the mountains. On Sunday we went and met an old friend of mine in Gatlinburg and then had to pack up the car to leave by mid-afternoon. We had a very scenic drive back through the Foothills Parkway.

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It was a long drive back with unpleasant traffic jams, and we’ve been tired all day today, but it was worth it. I haven’t been in Tennessee during fall since 2008, and it was wonderful to breathe the crisp mountain air, even if it was just for a day.

And speaking of tired from traveling…here’s how our resident travel champ spent most of her day:

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