Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 2 - The Hawthornes Leave Bryson City, Foregoing The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

We covered quite a bit of ground on Saturday - from Linville Caverns to the North Carolina Arboretum to Cherokee, North Carolina, to Bryson City. Why Bryson City? I'll tell you. I spent hours on the internet researching this trip and the places I thought Mr. Hawthorne and I would enjoy. One of the places I researched (apparently not well enough) was the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. 53 miles of track. 2 tunnels. 25 bridges. Explore the amazing landscape of Western North Carolina. Enjoy scenic train journeys across fertile valleys and through river gorges in a spectacular region near the Great Smoky Mountains. Sounds perfect, doesn't it?
We finally got to Bryson City from where the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad departs. The train was just pulling in when we arrived. I'm getting excited just thinking about our trip on the train tomorrow morning. We went to the depot and pulled a few brochures so I could read more about the train which would be departing at 9 AM the next morning, Sunday. Bryson City looked like a neat, little town and we were looking forward to finding a place to stay for the night and walking through the town and eating dinner at one of the restaurants. We checked out the Garmin and started calling around for lodging. No vacancies anywhere. We would have to travel the 10 miles back to Cherokee to find a place to stay. This worries me, since I don't want to miss the 9 o'clock departure. Mr. Hawthorne is habitually late for everything and I'm worried we wouldn't have time for breakfast and make it on time to the Bryson City Depot. We drive a bit through town and I espy a "motel" with a vacancy sign outside. Hooray! We pull in, go to the reservation desk, and wait. And wait. Finally a lady comes in and we request a room, non-smoking, with 2 beds. "No," she says, "I don't have anything." We sigh and turn to leave. "Oh, wait," she says. And she ushers us to a room right behind the office. (Why did she lie about this.) We enter the room and our olfactory senses are immediately assaulted. But we are desperate. "How much?" "$50." Then I ask a stupid question: "Do you have high speed internet service?" "No," she replies. "But I've noticed people sitting out on the front porch (concrete walkway) with their laptops. They're picking up something." (I'm sure they're picking up something, but it would probably require antibiotics to take care of.) I notice Mr. Hawthorne's nose twitching violently. He says, "Thanks, but no thanks." And we leave. The lady calls after us, "You know, you ain't gonna find anything in Cherokee. They're all booked." Does she have a crystal ball? We get back in the truck and head back to find a place in Cherokee. "My God," Mr. Hawthorne says. "I think I have bedbugs just from standing in that dump." And just what the hell did you think you were you going to do about the internet? Sit in the damn rocking chair outside in 39 degree weather? Oh wait, I'd need to buy some Reynold's Wrap and wrap rabbit ears around your head so you could get reception." The man has a point. We head back to Cherokee and I start reading the brochures I'd picked up at the depot. I'd missed this crucial item in my research: We would have been on The Great Pumpkin Patch Express. Can you imagine? We would have spent $106 to go on a 4-hour train ride filled with screaming children, stop at a pumpkin patch, go on a hay ride, and not enjoy storytelling, live musical entertainment, a hay bale maze, a bouncy house, trick or treating, and more.
Enjoy, as Mr. Hawthorne and I thankfully continue our journey away from Bryson City.
Upon finding out about the Great Pumpkin Patch debacle, we sighed a huge sigh of relief, traveled through Cherokee, and I went into navigator mode to get us to Robbinsville, NC, so Sunday morning we could take the spectacular 51-mile Cherohala Skyway connecting Hwy. 143 in Robbinsville to Hwy 165 in Tellico Plains, TN, traveling though the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. We didn't make it. Now, in defense of myself, I'm trying to read maps, my eyes are crossed, I'm hungry, it's dark, and we end up kinda going in circles between Cherokee, Bryson City, and a depressing little crap-ass city called Whittier. The Garmin is absolutely no help, as it has us turning into someone's driveway in a trailer park. Finally, I say, "Screw the Cherohala Skyway. We're going back towards Asheville, find a place to stay on the west side and Sunday morning we'll go off to the waterfalls I have on my itinerary." We are both tired and extremely stressed at this point, but thrilled we won't be on the Great Pumpkin Patch Express. We end up in Canton, NC, west of Asheville, find a Comfort Inn, have some wine, and order one of the best pizzas I've ever had for dinner. Shoe leather would have tasted good at this point.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Ah, we've had days like that while on vacation. Fun times.