Home Away From Homeless (part 1)

condo

So we had this great, yet small, condo (1,000 sq. ft. +/-) situated at the front door of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, our long desired retirement location. 

After much prayer and angst we decided to sell it to find something with a bit more room and a lot more autonomy (a unhappy association with our many investor neighbors was also a huge consideration).  In this decision, we failed to take into account the recent fire in Gatlinburg, which resulted in the shortage of available homes to purchase at our price point…DUH!

SIDE NOTE OF ADVICE:  If you buy a condo in a resort area, make sure that there are a large number of owner-residents onsite. We had a poor experience living in a condo community owned mostly by investors. Investors and homeowners are two different creatures…one treats it like home the other treats it like monthly income.

Pictured below are two examples of the devastating fire that swept through our beautiful park and the upper neighborhoods of Gatlinburg.

We had made plans, prior to selling, for a visit family and friends, out of state, and to go on a cruise out of New Orleans with close friends. Therefore, not being successful in finding a home to buy, in a timely manner, we packed everything and put it all into storage in time to head to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

First stop, Orange Beach for Mardi Gras with friends. Sweet husband’s 70th birthday fell on Mardi Gras this year and his youngest daughter gave birth to her first child that very day.

Did you know that south Alabama has a replica of the Stonehenge, called “Bama-Henge”?

Above Bama-Henge

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Second stop, Biloxi, MS for a Yellowstone Employee Reunion. Wonderful friends we had made in 2015 who lived and worked with us at Grant Village.  Two fun-filled days of catching up.

YS Reunion

Prior to this trip and because housing prices were on the rise daily in Pigeon Forge, we decided to move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (for many reasons, much too long and an unnecessary rabbit trail for this post).  WE placed an offer on a house and started the painful mortgage process…UGH! So while on the coast, we went to tour the house in Long Beach, MS we were purchasing…yep, made the offer sight unseen.  (This purchase has another chapter to it to follow in Part 3).

From there we drove to my youngest daughter’s home south of Baton Rouge for a long needed visit with a cruise sandwiched in the middle of our visit there.

Cruise blog and pictures to follow in Part 2

The Great Smoky Mountains

So much beauty, so much to see and do…every season.

RIPLEY’S AQURAIUM

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DOLLYWOOD

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PARIOT MOUNTAIN

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CREEKS TO PLAY IN

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WATER FALLS

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FLOWERS

VIEWS IN EVERY SEASON

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THE ISLAND

TENNESSEE FOOTBALL

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CRITTERS

Cougar

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TITANIC MUSEUM

WONDER WORKS

WONDERWORKS

MUSIC

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CADES COVE

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GOLF

CAMPING

Fifty Shades of Green

Friday we left Richmond driving west on I-64 across the Appalachian Mountains across West Virginia into Kentucky. We spent the night at a motel on an interstate exit east of Lexington. Saturday our destination goal was St. Louis via a stop in Louisville to see Churchill Downs and a couple of other side trips off the beaten path. However, in Lexington the interstate was closed and giving us no alternative but to ask our trusty GPS for an alternate route. What a stroke of luck. I will tell you about it, but first I must back up to Friday and that portion of our trek.

Friday we crossed into The Shenandoah portion of the Appalachian Mountains. Shenandoah is a Cherokee name, which means Bright Daughter of The Stars. She is. I love these mountains from Maine to Georgia. They have many names, but it is one continuous range and is ancient.

Spring has come and gone in the lower portions of the southern states, but is breaking forth with great passion in the area we are driving through. Wild flowers of every color and every shade of green only God could paint. Locust Trees in full bloom from one side of the state to the other and ooooooh the fragrance! We had mild temperatures and a constant breeze all the way from Richmond to Iowa…

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West Virginia and Kentucky will take your heart forever. I am told by our media that there is death and some environmental destruction from the coal mining. Even our Mississippi John Grisholm preached on it in his latest book…I did not see any of that…perhaps it is there (?). I did, however, see a train with cars filled to the brim with coal at one point near The New River.

The New River Gorge

The New River Gorge

The New River and rail road

The New River and rail road

We spent the night at a small town motel in Farmers, Kentucky and met a nice couple from Norfolk, VA on their way to Santa Fe, NM (They will love it!).  God lets us meet the neastest people!

We were rerouted in Lexington due to interstate closure and saw some of the most beautiful horse farms in the entire world. Farms walled substantially in stone, white or black wood with vast fields of grain and miles of pastures. There were barns, oh my the barns, nicer than most homes. We passed a sign directing us to Woodford Reserve Distillery and whipped in. As you know, Kentucky makes Bourbon, everyone else makes whisky and they are quick to tell you. They are the OFFICAL Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.  Unfortunately, there was a 90 minute wait to take a 70 minute tour…NOT…and didn’t happen for us. We just went back to enjoying the beautiful drive and headed on to St. Louis for a good nights rest and the rendezvous with sweet granddaughter the next morning.

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St. Louis is impressive. Forest Park is where the art museum is located.  It is shared by the zoo, the history museum, sculptured acres of fountains and blue grass and manicured gardens. The art museum houses a large, varied collection of art from all around the world and from many periods.

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Afterward we drove downtown by the river where sweet granddaughter could see the Arch and view the same beautiful river that flows right by her home of Baton Rouge.

We skirted through the lower hem of Indiana and Illinois.  Mostly farm land.  Thank God for our farmers.

Next: Iowa