Are the mountains calling my name?

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There are times when I think I should be writing a travel column. It could be about odd places that you see on motorcycle trips, or mainstream touring companies that take you behind the scenes where thousands of other travelers have gone before you. Maybe the best travel experiences are when you get lost in a new city, sometime on purpose. My wife, Sherri, decided that we should take a family vacation each year, even after our children got old enough to be seen without us. My joke is that the kids will always vacation with us as long as we are paying, and for 13 years, they have tagged along. As the years go by our family has expanded to nine, which doesn’t seem to be a problem as long as we can agree on a location. We rent a large house, have a quick discussion about which family gets which bedroom, and we settle in to sightsee, fix meals, play board and card games and relax.  I was never someone who took afternoon naps, but on vacation it is amazing how often I find myself sleeping in a rocking chair or recliner. If the three year old can take a nap, so can I. Life is good. We ventured to Nashville and the Smoky Mountains this year. Got a chance to catch up with my cousin, Ron, and his family. Ron went to college in the south and never left. He has been a Nashville lawyer for decades and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to retire any time soon. We did the regular tourist stuff, visited the Grand Ole Opry, a few country music museums and President Jackson’s Hermitage. We even took a walking tour of Nashville. This isn’t my first trip to Nashville and the downtown has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. From just a few blocks of country western bars and restaurants mixed into the downtown, to every building converted to some kind of tourist attraction. Famous country singers have purchased three story buildings and converted them into music venues, with live music on every floor and rooftop bars. Amazing transformation. Something I wasn’t expecting were all of the bachelorette parties. Girls partying in everything from tractor pulled wagons, flatbed trucks, to bicycle powered portable parties. You can tell the bachelorette groups by their matching tee shirts and the white outfits of the future brides. We counted over 20 the Friday afternoon that we were there. Don’t know if it was just me, but the music wasn’t that great this time, just loud. I had my earplugs in most of the time, but my ears were still ringing the next day. Maybe I should write a letter to the city council asking them to change their noise ordinance for inside music venues, or maybe I’ll let them decide how to run their successful downtown. The four hour drive to the Smoky Mountains was more than just a change of scenery. The green mountains were beautiful, the weather was cooler and the lightning and thunder a nice surprise. The view from the rental house was spectacular, worth the long drive down the hill to either Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Robert and Mandy took the three year old, Lukas, to Dollywood, and had a good time. I read and took a nap. We all played Hillbilly miniature golf and enjoyed the quiet of the mountains, and a little fishing. Our flights were delayed leaving Tennessee, with Robert’s family missing their connecting flight to Boise, forced to spend the night in Denver, but I believe everyone had a good time. Good enough to want to join us next year on our 14th last family vacation.  Have a good week and enjoy the rest of your summer.]]>

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