>Our vacation didn’t end in New Orleans. We were back for a day to rush around and try to get some work done, then we took off for Gatlinburg because our nephew Damon had a choir competition. It was our 4th trip to Gatlinburg in the last 5 years because of this competition, and it will probably be our last one for quite some time. It was the first time in those 4 trips that it didn’t absolutely pour the whole time we were there. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!

We got into town on Thursday evening, after making some stops at the Lodge outlet store, a Christian bookstore and a couple more outlets. We stayed at a different place than we have before. This one was right across the street from the Convention Center where the competition was being held, so it was a lot more convenient than the places that we stayed before. We shared a two-room suite with my sister, her husband and their youngest daughter. It was a lot of fun to just relax and spend some time with them.
On Friday, we went into the park and saw Cataract Falls. It’s the first time that Katie and I have been into the park because of the weather. We had a nice, easy hike to the falls, took some pictures and made our way up the mountain to the Newfound Gap. It was an absolutely beautiful view up there. After lingering for a while, we headed back down and took showers to get ready for the competition.
Katie and I had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, which was pretty good – not nearly as good as the food we had in New Orleans, but it wasn’t all that bad either. It’s interesting to me how “cajun” means “really spicy” everywhere but in New Orleans. It’s something to ponder.
Damon and his choir did a fantastic job at the competition, winning first place in their division… of course, they were the only one’s in their division, but the kids were so excited about winning first that it’s okay not to tell them. Afterwards, we spent the evening walking down the parkway with my sister and her family. It was a nice, relaxing evening.
It was a short trip this year because I couldn’t make myself take 2 Sundays off in a row, so after breakfast on Saturday morning, we headed back. It was quite a trip. We stopped just north of Knoxville for gas, then we went straight to Lexington, where we had lunch with a friend and met her new baby, who was born right around the same time as our little Sqooshy would have been born. I caught myself wondering what it would be like now if we hadn’t lost the little one back in August. After we left Lexington, it was a straight shot to Katie’s parents’ house to pick up Pork Chop, and then to home.
It has been a fantastic 10 days of vacation, but I am certain ready to get back to the grind. As you know from a previous post, I’ve started a series on the Holy Spirit at church, and I’m really excited about it. I can’t help but think that God is preparing us for some awesome things on the horizon.