We've been vacationing.
One short trip to The Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Another quick trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
We were home for a couple of days in between. Just long enough to wash the laundry, and repack everything. Now we are home for keeps, and it feels great. I am clear that I have gotten to be a serious homebody, and I am simply happiest here. If it is left up to me, I would never leave again. Ever.
It has been a whirl. I feel like my head is a kaleidoscope full of random impressions. I don't know that vacationing has any great import, or serious implications. It was, for us, a break in the routines -- which is what I think vacation is meant to be, after all. So, without any attempt to make it mean something, here are impressions from about 11 days of vacationing:
So much gets done in the days before vacation starts.
Funny how that works.
Packing our own food.
Breakfast cereal and almond milk.
The makings for French toast.
Tiny little grill for burgers and steak.
Do we really need to leave on schedule?
It is vacation.
Clean socks, and clean underwear.
Shoes, jackets, hats...
What might I have forgotten?
Cool, quiet mountain nights and mornings.
So green. Hardwoods and evergreens.
Rushing, burbling, mountain streams.
Leaping from stone to stone to stone.
Children riding brightly colored tubes along the current.
A picnic lunch on top of the peak.
Looking down into valleys full of drifting clouds.
It DOES look like these mountains are "smoky."
Meeting a volunteer in Cades Cove who shared way more than was expected.
A t-shirt for the grandkid.
With glow in the dark animal tracks!
The required visit to the "knife cathedral."
Great bbq ribs, and amazing fresh trout.
Breakfast at the Apple Barn.
Listening to baseball on the radio.
Late at night when the ionosphere bends the signal just so.
Ants making their busy ways across the cabin floor.
A firefly trapped high up in the rafters.
Sending out midnight distress signals to amaze a sleepless visitor.
Long drive north, and home for a quick respite.
Before we are off again.
University town, extraordinaire.
Home of the annual Arts Festival.
Block after city block of tightly packed white tent booths.
Each with its offered artistic endeavor.
Water colors, oils, acrylics.
Carved stone, wood, metal, leather, fabric.
Colors, bold and muted, splashed, swept, carefully applied.
Music wafting around corners and down alleys.
Restaurants and shops along the streets,
Behind the booths,
Spilling goods and myriad scents out onto the sidewalks.
Small boys, pulling carts, selling water for a dollar a bottle.
Ooohhhs and Ahhhsss.
Amazement and puzzlement.
And after a time, simply overwhelmed weariness.
This is a city of people who will help.
Stand on a corner, and look confused.
Someone will say, "How can I help?"
"Go that way."
Or, "Try over there."
Eager to help, but also eager to tell their stories.
To own this place; this town.
To tell the visitor how glad they are to meet.
And how lucky it is to be here.
A long warm day.
Bracketed by amazing Lebanese offerings at dinner.
Tio's Mexican food at lunchtime.
Most amazing rellenos, ever!
Dinner at The Gandy Dancer.
Did not disappoint.
Tired to bed.
Rising at nine, we loaded the car.
Turned our faces homeward.
Glad, at last, to be back with our kitty cats.
Our own beds.
Bits and pieces unpacked and put away
Home seems good.