Tag Archives: Vacation

Travelogue-Day 2: The Great Smokies

So, today we traveled from Nashville to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to stay in a beautiful mountain cabin for four nights. This is the main part of the trip, and a person could do some serious relaxing here!

The drive from Nashville to Gatlinburg is beautiful! You steadily notice that you’re climbing in altitude the whole way, and you begin seeing the foothills followed by the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Once you get off the interstate in Sevierville, the scenery gets even more beautiful. To get here, you have to drive through Sevierville and then you reach Pigeon Forge, the first major tourist town.

20140126_132237 20140126_133712The mountains where I live look like hills compared to the Smokies. It’s beautiful.

Once you get through Pigeon Forge, all the restaurants, show auditoriums, gift shops, mini golf courses, and go-kart tracks disappear and you start driving up a winding road through the woods as you enter Smoky Mountain National Park. The road has a meandering stream following it the whole way.  After a few miles, the forest opens up to another city strip filled with restaurants and tourist attractions. You’ve reached Gatlinburg.

Once we got to Gatlinburg, we checked into our cabin, settled in, and made our way to the back decks of the cabin.  The view we were met with was breathtaking.  A gorgeous scene of the Smokies, directly facing Mount Le Conte, all 6,593 feet of it.  Here are some photos of the view from the cabin.

20140126_140453 20140126_140820 20140126_140824At night, the lights of the cabins shimmer in valley, and off to the right, the sparkling lights of downtown Gatlinburg shine brightly. I wasn’t able to get an adequate photo of that.

After settling in to our cabin, we went to a park, where we drove up a mountain and saw an old homestead, some snow, and a few deer.

20140126_161534 20140126_16193920140126_161644Finally we stopped at the foot of the mountain to take a few photos of a lovely stream flowing through the woods.

20140126_160137 20140126_160158 20140126_160303 20140126_160700

After seeing the park, we went into town for a bit to get the lay of the land. We had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (which I do not recommend, by the way–exorbitant prices for mediocre food). After dinner we went to a candy shop where they make taffy, even moonshine flavored! We were going to make the trip to Asheville, North Carolina tomorrow, but now there’s a chance of snow. We’ve decided to stay in Gatlinburg tomorrow. If the snow isn’t too bad, we will visit some of the shops in town and eat out and visit Asheville Tuesday.  I’m looking forward to seeing some snow, as it’s so rare at home, but I hope it doesn’t keep us cooped up the whole time!

Until tomorrow…

 

 

 

 

Travelogue–Tennessee/North Carolina Style

Keep an eye on florencefallon.com for updates and photos from my adventures in Tennessee and North Carolina.  Probably will consist of photos mostly–unless some really exciting/funny stuff happens.

Tonight we’re in Nashville. Made a stop at Loveless Cafe before heading to the Ryman.  The Loveless Cafe was amazing. It was completely full with an hour wait at 3:30 in the afternoon! I hate to think of how busy they are at dinner time!  The food was so good. If you like southern food, you must stop there next time you’re in Nashville.  The fried chicken is out of this world, as are the biscuits and fried green tomatoes.  I didn’t try one thing that wasn’t good.

nash1It was a fast and furious afternoon/evening, and it isn’t over yet! Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for picture-taking here in Nashville, but I’ll have time for that at the other destinations!  I was able to snap this lovely picture of the sunset before it got dark.  More tomorrow.

nash2

SAG Awards, Vacation, and Other Useless Information

So, just coming off the emotional roller coaster that was the SAG Awards.  And by “emotional roller coaster,” I just mean the three times I got excited during the broadcast: Phyllis Logan and Michelle Dockery being interviewed by Giuliana Rancic and the “Glam Cam” pan of their dresses (and by “their dresses” I just mean Phyllis’. She looked GORGEOUS); The opening of the SAG Awards when Rob Lowe did his little spiel and Phyllis Logan was behind him being 500% adorable; and when Maggie Smith won the award for best actress in a drama series followed by the fictitious Dowager Countess twitter account tweeting “What is a #SAGAward?” That was pretty much the extent of my excitement for the evening.

(This also happened:

Thank you internet.)

I’m beginning to get excited about my vacation coming up in six days.  I’ve strategically made the preceding week extremely busy to make the time pass faster…because, let’s face it. Time moves slowest A) the week before a vacation and B) the last hour of a multi-hour car trip.  During my week, I have a couple of matters of business to attend to but overall it’s all VACA BABY.  I’ll be visiting the lovely cities of Nashville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; and possibly a stop in Virginia.  I will be spending most of the time gazing at sprawling mountain views from the 3 levels of decks at a rustic cabin.  The cabin does have wifi…and flat screen TVs in every bedroom…and satellite TV. That’s still rustic, right?  It’s in the woods, it’s rustic dang it!  Anyone with suggestions on places to visit or eat in those locations, shoot them my way! I’m already visiting the Biltmore estate, other than that, I need options!

I have been put on a medication that has a side effect of increased blood pressure.  To try to keep the BP down, I’m also taking a BP med and was told to avoid foods with high sodium content. Well, I can’t avoid sodium all the time!  A friend told me to eat copious amounts of ice cream to offset the sodium.

Sounds legit…

Oh, and before I go, here’s Phyllis Logan’s dress everyone is going gaga over:

Just keep looking at it like:

Oh, and Michelle Dockery’s there too…

(Gif credits:
Gif 1 x
Gif 2 x
Gif 3 x
Gif 4 is mine)

1 Week Down

I’m officially over a week out from my surgery.  It feels nice to reach this milestone considering how long I had to wait for it.  I’m still in a lot of pain, but it is gradually improving.  The leg pain from compressed nerves I was experiencing before surgery is still gone.  The majority of the pain I’m experiencing now is bone pain (the surgeon shaves some of the bone off the vertebrae near the affected disc to help take pressure off the nerve being compressed) and muscle spasms.  The pain is forcing me to use muscles I usually don’t use to support my upper body.  These muscles are screaming and spasming in protest!  That will eventually go away, muscle spasms are a very normal part of recovery from spine surgery.  Doctors regularly prescribe muscle relaxers in combination with narcotics for pain control.

I was talking to my dad earlier about my pain and we discussed the differences between my last two spine surgeries compared to this one.  While the operative pain is a bit worse this time due to working on more than one disk, my legs are much stronger this time than they were after the other surgeries.  They feel stronger now than they have in months!  The surgery was definitely successful in that respect.  While there’s a chance I won’t ever be pain free, I have high hopes that I’ll be pretty close to pain free after 6 weeks or so.

My last spine surgery resulted in an allergic reaction to SOMETHING used in incision closure.  Whether it was the dissolving sutures or the topical glue I don’t know, but I’m having a similar reaction this time.  The wound and surrounding area itch something terrible and are red.  It isn’t infection, though…I’m just concerned that the reaction will hinder healing.  Last time my incision didn’t heal properly and remained open on the top layers.  That combined with a hematoma developing resulted in a second surgery.   The surgeon closed the wound with non-dissolving nylon sutures and it healed beautifully.  I wish she had done that this time, but she didn’t.  We’re watching it like a hawk and first sign that the wound is opening up we’re going straight back to the surgeon.  I refuse to go under the knife again!

In other life news, I’m getting excited about the holiday season.  The Christmas commercials have begun and I have my fall scents all over the house.  I love the warm, spicy scents of fall.  One of my favorites this year is Yankee Candle’s Apple Pumpkin.  It’s fabulous.  I’m beginning to search Pinterest and my new cookbooks for a different recipe or two to make for Thanksgiving.  I’d love a link if anyone has a suggestion for me. I’m also looking forward to a trip to Branson, Missouri sometime before Christmas. My mom wants to take me up there for a little shopping and enjoying their Christmas decorations and activities.  I hated Branson as a kid.  It was a place everyone went to shop and I thought it was a haven for old people and extremely cliche and I hated going.  I even boycotted it and refused to go for years.  Now that I’m older I appreciate it more.  It’s a lovely place with good shopping not too far from home but far enough to seem like vacation.  I still don’t enjoy the shows or any of that aspect of it, but Branson actually has a lot to offer besides their kind of cheesy stage shows.

Summertime: Looking Back at My Favorite Summer Activities and Reminiscing About Growing Up

I was an unusual child.  Unlike other kids my age, I loved school.  While I didn’t enjoy waking up early to go, once I got there I almost always enjoyed my day.  I was shy (I still am!), but despite the fact I was quiet and didn’t have an over abundance of friends, I still loved being at school (I even stretched my four year college degree into a six year experience!).  While I enjoyed school, I still loved summer break and looked forward to it every May.

As a child, my parents both worked so I spend a good deal of my summer with babysitters.  When I was very young–kindergarten through fourth grade–I spent my summers with a family who lived across the street from us.  It was my best friend Ronnie’s house, Ronnie was one of the only kids who lived on my street so we spent a huge amount of time together.  His mother had two boys–Ronnie and his older brother B.J.–and his mom loved me.  She treated me like the daughter she never had and to her I could do no wrong.  We were all relatively poor in that neighborhood.  We lived in tiny two-bedroom houses which, looking back, seemed big to me.  Now I realize how tiny our home was, now that I live in a home of my own–by myself–that is substantially larger.  Money was just not something we had, so Ronnie and I–and sometimes B.J.–had to make our own fun.  Born in the mid-eighties, I was one of the last generations who were born before the age of technology.  We did have video games, but neither Ronnie’s nor my parents would allow us to sit and play them all day.  We spend the majority of our time outdoors, tearing up the pavement riding our bikes up and down Blossom Street.  We also spent countless hours playing games in our backyards.  Mostly my backyard, because we had a large shrub that leaned over, creating the perfect tunnel, which we used at our house.  Ronnie was one of the few boys I knew who was willing to play house.  Though, it wasn’t really a girly game.  And there was no one else to play with on the street so it’s all we knew.

I have memories of doing so many fun things there.  Jumping on my trampoline–being an only child, I was the envy of the neighborhood with my full-size trampoline–and playing on the swingsets in our backyards.  I even remember vividly playing some dangerous games, like shooting roman candles and bottle rockets as we held them.  My mother–and his–would have killed us if she knew we did that.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, my family still went on a few really great vacations.  The first vacation I really remember was our trip to San Antonio, Texas.  It was my first trip on an airplane.  I remember I had a stuffed “Littlefoot” doll from The Land Before Time.  I clutched him the entire time, and he had to go through the x-ray machine at the security checkpoint.  My parents let me sit by the window, and I sat glued to it, staring at the landscape below with wonder.  I remember seeing the Alamo, riding in a boat on the river, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city.  We also went to Sea World, the highlight of the trip.

Other great vacations we took included a trip to St. Louis, where we saw the Budweiser Clydesdales and spent a day at Six Flags.  Other memorable vacations from my childhood include a trip to Orlando, Florida for Disney World; a trip to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine;  and a trip to New York City.

We eventually moved away from the tiny house in the city to live in a quieter, safer neighborhood in the suburbs.  My parents were making more money and had been toying with the idea of moving for a while.  They made up their minds firmly one evening when a gang had a party in the area and a rival gang showed up and started a fight.  Shots were fired–numerous shots–and the police actually found several of them hiding in our backyard.  Our house was for sale very soon afterwards.

Our house sold long before the new home my parents were building was ready, so we had to find a rental property until the house was completed.  I remember looking at several apartments downtown, right in the middle of the city, in a historic district.  The apartments were very unique and different from our house, but ultimately the house directly across the street from the one we lived in came up for rent.  So we packed or stuff and walked it across the street to the house where we would spend the next several months.

That house was absolutely horrible.  It was disgusting from the family who lived there before.  I had never lived anywhere but our tiny house.  The rental house was much larger.  It had a living room, a den, a dining room, and three bedrooms and two bathrooms!  I had a nice bedroom, but I never slept in it.  I was terrified in that room and didn’t sleep one night in it.  I would always end up begging my parents to let me sleep in their room, so my dad ended up moving my bed into the formal living room.  I slept better there, because it was right next to my parents bedroom.  They would keep their door open so I could even see them from my own bed.

It was a miserable time.  I was right next door to Ronnie, which was ok, but I hated everything about that house.   It could have been great.  It was so much bigger, it had a large enclosed front porch, it had two bathrooms–making it much easier and more efficient to get ready in the mornings–it had two living areas so we didn’t have to all agree on what to watch on TV, and the yard was huge.  The weird thing about it, though, was the “backyard” was actually on the side.  The backyard was fairly small, but apparently the original owners had bought the lot next to the lot where the house was built, thus making their yard twice as large.

The negatives outweighed the positives, though.  We lived very minimally in that house.  75 percent of our things were in boxes and all stacked in one of the bedrooms.  The downstairs den was large, but the previous renters left it in a horrible state, including an infestation of fleas from the two large chows that lived INSIDE the house.  It took a substantial amount of time for my parents to get that room clean and flea-free.  We still ended up spending most of our time in my parents bedroom and the living room which had become my bedroom.  It was miserable.  I cried the day we moved out of our first house, but the day we moved out of the rental I had never been so happy!

When we moved to the suburbs my life changed.  My family started going to church, where I met my current best friend.  I liked the small town life.   The town has since grown to be quite large, but when I was a child, we couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone we knew.  The people there were different, they had more money.  We didn’t have to worry about someone breaking into our house or getting shot in the street. Life in the suburbs was good.

Overall, I had a terrific childhood.  I made many memories that will last a lifetime.  I was luckier than many children.  I never had any siblings, the only part of my childhood I wish were different, but I had parents who loved me and included me in everything.  I always had something to do and never had to work for their affections.  I had numerous health problems, which required major surgeries, which resulted in my being forced to stay inside a lot.  I think it was this which helped me discover my creative, artistic spirit.  I loved to write stories, paint pictures, and pretend.  Being an only child, I played by myself a great deal of the time, so pretending was necessary.  Though I had problems and setbacks, I believe my childhood–especially the special things my family did during the summers–helped shape me into the person I am today.

Pulling An All Nighter

Well, I’m not sleepy in the least.  I have to get up for work in the morning but I can’t settle.  Too much going on in my head.  I had hoped this post would be a mass review of Martha Long’s 3rd-6th books (which were phenomenal, no surprise to me), but I can’t focus on getting it written.  I know what I want to say but can’t say it the way I want to.  I’m having major focus problems, no doubt due to back pain, hormones, blood pressure fluctuations  and the whole passing out at work thing that happened today. Yes, I passed out at work.  Started feeling dizzy and sweaty (diaphoretic)  in the middle of a procedure and was fortunately able to complete it.  I then excused myself to the bathroom where I got sick, dizzy, and fell forward giving myself a nasty knock on the head.  I’m feeling better now, but my brain is literally going a mile a minute.  Not to worry though, I’ll get the review finished, it should be my next post.  I have a lot to say about these amazing books, and I can’t wait to share with you all what a remarkable life Martha Long has led.  Her next book is out in September and I don’t know how I’m going to wait that long!  Fortunately I’ve found some other subjects I want to read about, and Carol Burnett’s book Carrie and Me: A Mother Daughter Love Story comes out April 9, so that should fill some of the time.  I although I already own the first edition, I am also eagerly awaiting the mass market edition of  Ma, I’ve Reached for the Moon An I’m Hittin The Stars to be released in May for reasons Martha knows ;).  But it’s only being released in the UK and Ireland.  I MUST obtain a copy of it.  How will I be able to do that?

Anyway, I thought I’d spend this time blogging about something else.  Vacation opportunities.  I have a friend, Melissa, who may be coming to visit me during my week off in May for a trip to see Little Rock and Dallas.  I haven’t shared this with anyone as it just developed about an hour ago.  We realized she could fly into Dallas relatively inexpensively and we are beside ourselves excited thinking about the possibility of her visiting the South and us having Barbara Stanwyck and Carol Burnett marathons.  Why can’t I have more friends like her who live close to me??  I was also able to find very inexpensive tickets to New York if I wanted to visit her instead.  I haven’t a lot of money, but I’m getting a tax refund and the price would barely put a dent in it.  Mom and Dad, I know you don’t think I should spend my money on a vacation, but I want to splurge just a LITTLE with it! I will still be able to pay for the things I need.  😉  I need something fun to happen, it’s been such a crazy, sad, stressful, overwhelming 6 months.  I need something to look forward to…

On yet another note, I’m afraid I’m going to have the arduous task of job hunting again.  My back has been injured yet again, and although I love where I work, I can’t continue working in patient care if I continue to injure my back.  My spine is sort of necessary for walking, functioning, etc.  It’s always been my worst nightmare to leave patient care and enter some kind of desk job/administrative position.  I have never had a desire to work in that branch of nursing but the reality is, it’s going to have to happen and soon.  I imagine I’ll need to talk to my boss soon.  They are probably fed up with me hurting myself and getting sick, losing loved ones and all the other horrible things that have happened in my short time working there.  I’m not sure what in the world I could do…or if I’ll even stay in nursing.  I’m very upset about this whole situation but am trying not to let it drag me into the pit of despair I seem to find myself in quite frequently lately.

So, anyway, be watching for my Ma series review coming soon.  I’m really looking forward to sharing it. 🙂