Thursday, July 12, 2012

Holiday Shocks and Adventures

Our family had a fun July 4th celebration last week as we traveled east towards the Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg, TN area to explore the Great Smoky Mountains.  It was the three of us, a brother-in-law's family and the main planners of the trip, my sister-in-law and her hubby.  We all stayed at a nice cabin in the mountains and there really isn't anything bad to say about our accommodations.  Everything was wonderful!

The main objective of the trip was for the 'boys' to be able to ride their motorbikes through the well-known Tail of the Dragon.  For those who have not yet heard of this place, this is actually one of the most well-known roads for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts.  The Tail of the Dragon is an 11-mile stretch of US129 and it has 318 curves. And when I say curves, I mean REAL S-CURVES.  These pictures don't do justice to how crazy scary those 11 miles are but I swear at some point, I thought I was going to throw up.....

There's the hubby on his Harley...


the three 'boys' making that mean turn...my BIL & his beloved Ducati taking the lead



The curving and the turning just never end...


It was Thursday, July 5th, when we headed out on this crazy ride.  Little did we know that what started out like this......
beautiful, clear skies



Would end up like this.......


Severe weather ripped through the mountains that late afternoon and we were terrified....or at least I was!!  I started noticing the thickening and darkening clouds as we began our descent and we all knew it was just a matter of time before rain starts pouring.  But actually, the winds were more terrifying more than anything else.  First, it was just leaves falling.  Then the thin, smaller branches started appearing on the roads before us.  It didn't take too long before the thicker ones started breaking and falling from above us.  We were VERY VERY blessed.  There was one segment during our drive when this really thick branch fell right before us.  Had we driven on that spot 2 seconds earlier, it would have fallen directly on our van, or worse, on one of our guys riding their motorcycles.  My SIL, who was driving the van (with me and five children as passengers), had no choice but to plow through that branch and just hope for the best. 

Suffice it to say that no one got hurt and we all made it out of there in one piece, unscathed.  The next day, we heard in the news that some people were not so lucky.  We did encounter a couple or so of road closures, and countless police and other emergency vehicles during our (what seemed like endless) drive back to our cabin.  Then when we got there, we found that there was no power.  However, in the grand scheme of things, seriously, what's to complain about, right?

The following day, though it would've been our last opportunity to enjoy the mountain scenery and all that is rustic about the area, all the ladies/moms with the kids, decided it was best to stay within 'civilization' and just drive to town.  The men still decided to ride their motorcycles although they weren't able to go that far either due to the road blocks.

On that day, we ended up taking the kids to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.  There were a lot of fascinating marine life, of course, but these two tidbits below really surprised me, ESPECIALLY the second one....


This is DEFINITELY something to further blog about.....TO BE CONTINUED....


Now brace yourselves because I've saved the most dreadful for last.  The picture of the storm's devastation is nothing compared to this.  When I saw this, it almost felt as if blood completely drained from my face........
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Do you see that??!!!! Rather, do you see THEM???!!!!.....Those God-forsaken white hairs are indeed showing, aren't they?!  Eeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!  Horror of horrors!!!     Could it be that the overwhelming 'excitement' at the Tail of the Dragon aged me that much???  I guess I have to log off now and go get myself a box of hair dye.  *sigh*