5 years ago today, a group of folks headed down to Gatlinburg, TN for the wedding of Jeff and Liz. I journaled about the weekend once we were home. Here is the journal entry from Oct 17, 2003. It's funny to read now and think about how life has changed. Stayed tuned this weekend as I plan to share more day to day entries!
We left home an hour late. We had wanted to be on the road as close to 7:30 as possible but didn’t actually get going until 8:30. Brian and Christy caravan-ed down with us and Brian provided 2 way radios so we could stay in communication. The majority of the drive was uneventful. Jeff received occasional calls from others travelling to Gatlinburg, updating us on their progress in the drive. We seemed to find every area of slow moving traffic.
As we traveled through Kentucky, we began to realize that reaching Sevierville on time (where we would be getting our marriage license) was going to be difficult. The Sevier Co courthouse closed at 4:30, TN is an hour ahead of IN at this time of year, and we were pushing it! Christy made the recommendation to consider stopping in Knoxville for the license. Who knew that one suggestion would become such an adventure?
We called information and got the number for the Knox County courthouse. Liz called and spoke to a very nice woman and explained our predicament. She assured us that we would be able to reach her before closing and provided directions from our current route (I-75 South). She said to take 75 South into Knoxville, take the Henley Rd exit and then take Henley to Main St. We would find the courthouse at the corner of Main and Gay St.
So we keep cruising along. As we approach Knoxville, the excitement builds- we only have an hour to get there before it closes and we don’t truly know where we are going. We follow the directions exactly. My stomach became nervous when we stayed on 75 South and the other half of the road became 40 East to Knoxville- but I trusted our lady on the phone. We continued on 75 South and wound up sitting in bumper to bumper construction traffic! My stress level is escalating, Jeff is doing his best to keep me calm while remaining calm himself and who knows what Brian and Christy were thinking in the vehicle behind us! As we begin to exit the construction, after crawling in it for a good 30 minutes, Liz decides that we are taking the next exit and will come up with a game plan.
Christy states that she needs gas so we exit and head for the nearest gas station. We pull up to the fuel pumps, Jeff gets out to pump (as does Christy) and I hop on the phone to find out where we are and where the phone lady really is. She is very nice but insisted that I couldn’t have followed her directions or else we would be there. Rather than finding some way to reach through the phone and throttle her, Jeff and I instead ask how we can get to her from where we are. All we know is that we are somewhere off of 75 South. Christy goes into the gas station to find out where we are and comes out with an exit number. Dingbat phone lady isn’t helped by the information. Christy goes back to the gas station and comes back with a street name! This turns something on in dingbat’s head and she realizes that we are in Farragut and that there is a license branch just down the road. She says that if we can find Farragut High School, we can find the license place (did she completely miss the fact that I had told her we weren’t from around here???). Thankfully, as my frustration level is reaching a boiling point, a state trooper pulls in. Christy and Jeff ask him about the high school and the town hall and he is able to confirm that we are approximately 2 miles from where we need to be. We rush off to Town Hall and successfully get our license! Then we go back and face the construction traffic going the other way so we can get on 40 E and go by Knoxville and get into Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. And- I don’t think we ever passed Henley Rd.
After leaving our License adventure in Knoxville, or should I say Farragut, we proceeded on to Sevierville. We were prepared to find some traffic- but no where near prepared for the traffic we faced. Traffic became bumper to bumper before we reached the turn off onto 441 (which is the main drag through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg)!! We finally pass the courthouse- around 5:30.
Our next destination is Pigeon Forge- a stop at Kroger to pick up ordered party food trays and other essentials for the cabin. We are in traffic FOREVER waiting to get to that Pigeon Forge Kroger! We finally arrive, Jeff and I both COMPLETELY stressed. Our timetable is ruined. We have friends already in Gatlinburg that are waiting for us as they can’t check into their cabin because the cabin is in my name! By the time we leave Kroger, the sun is almost set and the hour is drawing later and later. We finally get into Gatlinburg as darkness falls (around 7:30). We are supposed to be at Hard Rock for our big dinner by 8. Thankfully, I was able to call the cabin rental office and have them turn the keys over to Jim. And as luck would have it, we wound up directly behind Jim and Dave on their 2nd trip up to the cabin!
Jim, Dave, Brian, Christy, Jeff, and I burst into the cabin together and ran around checking out the place! While it was obviously built a while back, the place had character and lots of room and a fantastic view of the town. Then it was time for Jeff and I to run off and check into our own cabin before heading to Hard Rock! Christy insisted on joining us so we would have someone to help unload (Thank You Christy!). Then we discover that we have to drive BACK TO PIGEON FORGE to check in to the office for our cabin!! ACK!
Thankfully, that stretch of road had considerably less traffic and we were able to fly to Pigeon Forge, rush off to the cabin, be completely astounded by its beauty, unload the car, and find our way to Hard Rock. And we were only 30 minutes late!
Dinner was fantastic. I don’t really think the food was that great but it was so wonderful to be surrounded by family and friends. Everyone was so excited and happy!
In attendance were: Vonda (Jeff’s mother) Lindsey (Jeff’s Sister) Jillian and Corbin (Lindsey’s 2 year olds) Bob and Charlie (Jeff’s Dad and Mom) Billy and Lurene (Jeff’s Dad’s cousin and wife) Christy (Liz and Jeff’s Belfry friend) Brian (Jeff’s friend since 3rd grade) Jim (Liz’s friend since college) Dave (Jim’s partner) Dan and Tim (Belfry friends) Connie and David and their daughter, Joey (Liz and Jeff’s friends from the Belfry) After dinner, several friends accompanied us back to our cabin with the intention of helping us set up the decorations for the reception the next day! Unfortunately, most were blinded by the fun things at the cabin- the hot tub, the Pac Man/Galaga video game, the Pool Table, the Foosball Table, etc. Eventually, everyone settled down and we were able to get everything set up. Jeff had managed to fall asleep in the middle off all the rumpus so I shooed everyone away and fell asleep- very excited about the upcoming day!