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I'm back and believe me, I'm not in as good as shape as I thought!

We're back from Tennessee all safe and sound and SORE. I had this bright idea that we should do a lot of hiking. You know, because I am a fitness freak and in such good shape. I can hike around the lake so show me a mountain trail and watch me go! *ahem*

I generally walk/jog/run quite a few miles every day and a lot of this is on the steep hills by the lake dam. The trail to the highest point in Tennessee is paved and only half a mile long. I knock off a half mile in six minutes or less every day on steep hills. Geography must have flew right by me in school because there are hills and then there are mountains. BIG difference. For one thing, I can see the top of the hill I tromp around on here. There are no twisty turns or steep drop offs.

Although it might be really windy on top and not so much at the bottom, the temperature stays the same. Not so on a mountain trail. There will be wind, calm, sunshine, fog and rain all within a mile or less. The brochures said to be prepared for extreme differences in weather and temperature and dress accordingly. We all read that and yet still showed up in shorts and tank tops. It was 88 degrees on the bottom and a cool, damp 56 on top. The hike was so steep that I kept getting winded and had to stop to catch my breath. The next morning everyone had sore butt and calf muscles I think. It was quite the climb. Beautiful but I don't know that I would do it again.

Same way with the hike up the mountain to the waterfall. It just went on forever and ever and no one seemed enlightened on their way down despite the brochure talking up the negative ions of a waterfall and how good it was for the spirit. We pressed on and made it to the top and took pics of the waterfall. Again, a beautiful site but I probably wouldn't do it again. On the way down we passed a young man pushing an elderly fellow up the trail in a wheelchair!!

There was one tragedy while we were there which deflated us all for several hours. We had stopped at one of the swimming holes on the river to let the boys get in and wade around. A deputy sheriff pulled up alongside Todd and asked if he had a cellphone signal. Someone had drowned and they were searching the river. I hoped and prayed that it wasn't someone who fell in because there are signs and postings everywhere about how slippery the rocks are and that drowning is the second leading cause of death in the park. For whatever reason, preventable deaths really shake me up.

We got back to civilization that night and found the news story that indeed someone did slip on the rocks and fall in. So incredibly sad for his family and friends. I kept imagining what it would be like if it had been one of us. Our loved ones would be waiting here for us to come home with our travel tales and instead would be notified that there had been an accident. How absolutely awful that must have been for those who knew him.

To wash the sadness away I will leave you with a funny story from our trip. Eva and I both really love rap music and that whole culture and frequently emulate it. We had no idea how closely little Benjamin had been listening to us sing and shout out things as we traveled along until we got into Sevierville to meet the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Les Jones for lunch at Bass Pro Shops. We couldn't see the store and everyone was looking around as Todd drove along. Suddenly Ben yells from the back seat "Right there's Bass Pro. HOLLA!" Too freakin' funny!