Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Great Smoky Mountains Adventure Day 8 - Heading Home

[Composed 7/16/2019]

I'm sitting in the Charlotte, NC airport taking stock of the day. We were out of the house before the sun was up. Arriving at the Knoxville airport, I waved goodbye to D and Shira as they rushed off to meet their flight. J and I had some time to chill while we awaited his flight. He was a responsible young man and knocked out some homework before beating me in a game of chess. I gave him one last hug and handed him over to the flight crew who would deliver him safely home. And then it was more waiting till I could catch my brief flight to Charlotte.

And so here I am, just about 2 hours away from home and the official end of our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure.

Looking back, this trip has been a solid one. I overcame my fear of heights on two notable occasions. We got in high quality hiking. Shira and the kids got to ride roller coasters to their hearts' delight. We got to see bears in the wild, sharks up close in an aquarium and have a bonding experience with a very friendly moth. We enjoyed Knoxville's only vegan cafe and played tourist on the streets of Gatlinburg. Good times!

My only critique of the area is that the eco-system is just too similar to ours. While the hiking was great, the experience was awfully similar to what we'd find in nearby Shenandoah National Park.

The real joy of the trip was watching J and D thrive. From their epic lego battles to their zip lining antics, they're what made this vacation such a gem!

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