This world. This place. This life.

Hot. Hot. Hot.

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It was 90.3 degrees today here in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  For this Alaskan, that’s about as hot as our 8-week, mid-summer archeological adventure in Roswell, New Mexico.

So if the rest of this post doesn’t make sense, just chalk it up to the heat and humidity.  A front is coming through tonight, and tomorrow and Sunday should be cooler.  There’s a good breeze building outside.

We’ve done quite a bit here in the Gatlinburg area.  One of our first forays was the Cades Cove Loop, which was fun for someone interested in agriculture.  The settlers of that area, assisted by the Cherokee, I’ve read, found in Cades Cove a broad and relatively flat valley, a rarity in this part of the country.  You can still feel the echoes of a pastoral way of life there.  There were times on our drive when I thought to myself, “I’ve seen land like this—but it’s got strip malls and subdivisions covering its beauty.”

Speaking of strip malls.  We found ourselves doing more touristy stuff than we wanted.  In the “Mountain Mall” we spent some time in a Western store, where my partner tried on Stetsons, and I tried not to get too upset about the conversation the owner was having with another customer.  In a syrupy tone the owner was describing how he’s allowed to go into the schools and share Jesus with the children, and with a slightly more biting tone the customer talked about how, “You just wouldn’t be able to do that up north.”  Amazes me sometimes how deep the regional differences run in our country.

My partner found an interesting tea shop, and she might go back to the tobacco shop.  Today we went to the Pancake Pantry, where I had buckwheat pancakes and she had raspberry crepes.  Then, because we’d paid $6 for parking, we did some window shopping in the 85 degree heat.

Then we went to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, where we ran into our usual problems with my partner’s love for the outdoors, combined with the inaccessibility.  She loves nature more than anyone I know, and not being able to get out into it frustrates her beyond words.  We did the short accessible trail, which was interesting, but she wants more.

We plan to do the Arts & Crafts Trail tomorrow, which I’m looking forward to more than she is, I suspect.  And we want to try the Laurel Falls Trail, if there aren’t fifty bazillion people there with us.

Other than that, we’ve been hanging out at the cabin, playing pool, and relaxing.  We leave on Monday to go back to Michigan.


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