Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

The helicopter touched down on the grass in front of Angelo’s at the Point, a lovely little restaurant overlooking Douglas Lake. The pilot jumped out to open the door for his passengers, while several restaurant customers looked on with curious stares.

Who could these celebrities be? Which members of the rich and famous had arrived by helicopter to enjoy lunch at Angelo’s? The onlookers didn’t have to wait long.

The pilot opened the door and down stepped…

ME AND JIM!!!!!!!!

It’s true! This past weekend, we got to feel like real celebrities, but without the paparazzi! This grand entrance was just one portion of the surprise extravaganza Jim planned in honor of our tenth anniversary and our first night away from the kids since their birth. So find a comfortable chair and enjoy the post!

I had been looking forward to this weekend for a LONG time! Jim had planned the whole thing, and I had very few clues about what any of it was! Not that he hadn’t tried to give me hints, but I didn’t want to know! I wanted to be surprised! It nearly killed him not being able to tell me!

Bud and KayKay arrived Wednesday afternoon to give them some time to become acquainted with our regular routine before taking on the fearsome foursome by themselves!

Friday, we had a little bit of a scare that the whole thing would fall apart when Jonathan started coughing a lot and running a low fever. We didn’t think he was TOO sick, but decided to take him to the dr on Fri, just to make sure he wasn’t starting an ear infection. When the dr listened to his chest, she could hear some slight wheezing, and his O2 sats were lower than they should have been. He got a breathing treatment at the office, but the dr was concerned he might have some slight pneumonia, so she sent us to Children’s for x-rays! In the end, he didn’t have pneumonia (yea!), but he did get Rxs for 2 medicines, plus a regimen of breathing treatments for the weekend. He’s much better now, although still coughing a little. (Reagan is coughing too, but we’ll worry about that later!)

So with Jonathan on the mend, Bud and KayKay assured us they could handle it, and we set off on our excursion Saturday morning after breakfast. I knew we were headed to the Smoky Mtn area, I knew that some portion of our day depended heavily on the weather being nice, I knew that there would be lunch, and I knew that I needed to dress nice. These were my only clues, and I’ll spare you the long list of possibilities that had floated through my mind at one time or another. None of them really matter since they were all wrong!

We hit the road toward Sevierville, and as we passed the helicopter place, Jim told me we had just passed “it.” I thought back over the last few places we had passed (I had been making mental note of everything we passed and every billboard we came upon, trying to figure it out!) Although a helicopter ride did not make sense to me as far as my clues went, I guessed the helicopter ride which you know was right. Jim immediately thought I was disappointed, but I wasn’t! I was just confused because i didn’t understand why I had to dress up for a helicopter ride!

Oh, but it wasn’t just ANY helicopter ride! Jim had chartered a special flight from Scenic Helicopter Tours. We felt like celebrities the minute we walked in and were greeted by name! The staff was wonderful, and not just to us, but also to everyone else we saw there that morning. Our pilot Dan was the owner (he pilots many of the flights, not just ours!), and he was incredible! His family has lived in the Sevier County area for several generations, and he knew the name and history of every peak we flew over. He was fun and interesting and full of stories and history.

DSC_0002 our helicopter

The flight was amazing! It was a little overcast, so the clouds kept us from seeing some of the tallest peaks, but what we did see was incredible! The Smoky Mountains look beautiful no matter your vantage point, but there’s just something extra special about looking at them from above! You really get a feel for the beauty of the area as God sees it! Gorgeous! Our tour took us all over the area: Wears Valley, Greenbrier, Gatlinburg, Douglas Lake, and SO MUCH MORE! These pictures do not even begin to do it justice!

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And as if the flight itself wasn’t amazing enough, part of the package Jim put together included landing at Angelo’s for lunch! It was truly fun stepping off the helicopter and walking up to the restaurant where we were again greeted by name, with everyone around us trying not to stare but wondering who in the world we were!

DSC_0102 our view of Angelo’s from the helicopter landing site

By the way, Angelo’s was DELICIOUS! The salmon I had was flavorful and perfectly accented by a sweet Asian sauce. Mmmmm, so good!

When we were ready to go, one of the other diners (who had not been there for our arrival) asked out loud what the deal was with the chopper. We smiled happily and answered that it was our ride! Teehee! So fun! And off we went, flying back to Sevierville.

If you’re looking for something fun and out of the ordinary, I highly recommend a helicopter ride! And I highly recommend Scenic! Thanks Dan! (And Carol and all the other staff who helped us!)

After leaving Scenic, it was time to head for the next phase of our little vacation.

(I won’t depress you with lengthy whining about the traffic we encountered in Pigeon Forge after leaving Scenic, except to say that it took us about 400 times longer than it should have to reach our next destination and to share with you one picture of the new Titanic exhibit which we got a really good look at since it took us about half an hour to drive past it.)

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So what WAS our next destination? Why, a bed and breakfast, of course! But not just ANY bed and breakfast…

Gracehill Bed and Breakfast! This place was UNBELIEVABLE! Luxury like I have never known! And the view! Gracehill is way up on the side of a mountain in Townsend, an exquisitely beautiful home inside and out.

DSC_0150 from the driveway

DSC_0131 the gardens in back

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DSC_0141 DSC_0142 DSC_0143 our private balcony

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Our room, the Spellbound, softest sheets EVER, fireplace (which we didn’t use), jacuzzi tub, steam shower, did I mention the sheets?

DSC_0158 Me and Jim on the main balcony

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The VIEW, again the pictures don’t do it justice!

I could probably go on for days about this place, it was so amazing! It was easy to see why it has won so many awards! The service was fabulous! Everything is set up to be as convenient to the guest as possible, from free wi-fi and cable to extra drinks and snacks in the bar area outside the rooms. The owner, Kathy Janke, made up a special snack tray for us, with fruit, crackers, cheese, and sweets, including the most delicious chocolate-covered strawberries I’ve ever had! Most chocolate-covered strawberries are just “we hope the chocolate will cover up the fact that these strawberries have no flavor,” but THESE were delicious! You could absolutely tell that the berries were sweet all by themselves, so the chocolate was just a bonus!

And the breakfast the next morning! So much delicious food I couldn’t even eat it all! Neither could Jim! There was some sort of delectable coffee cake/monkey bread-ish dish, with a creamy filling and a hint of orange. Then came baked pears, with some sort of sweet, creamy dressing. Last was breakfast enchiladas (eggs, cheese, veggies, and sausage baked in tortillas). Delicious! Every bite!

If you are looking for a luxurious getaway, look no further! Gracehill will not disappoint!

Now, lest you think I let Jim do all this work and planning while I just sat back and ate bonbons, let me tell you I had a little surprise of my own! I made Jim a DVD slideshow of our life together. It was a small, but time-consuming gift, and especially challenging to complete secretly since I pretty much only had short snatches of naptime to work on it and couldn’t go to him for help every time the program wouldn’t do what I wanted it to! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed putting it together and revisiting so many special moments of our married life.

I loved every minute of this anniversary vacation! Jim worked so hard to make each part special and memorable, beyond anything I expected or deserved. As in most things, he never ceases to amaze me with his love and creativity. Thank you sweetie for a wonderful, wonderful anniversary!

And many, many thanks to Bud and KayKay, who made our escape from reality possible! Caring for JonZReaTom is a challenge on any day, but we threw in medicine, breathing treatments, and the potential for worse sickness on top of it all, and they never even flinched! At least not when we could see them! Nor were they standing at the door with their bags packed ready to flee the moment we got home! The kids had a great time with them, and so did we! Thank you, thank you!

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And thank you one more time to my amazing husband! These last ten years have been full of love, laughter, and so many incredible experiences! I can only imagine what the next ten hold in store for us! I love you!

4 comments:

BECKY said...

this is amazing! the b and b looks like a fairy tale, would LOVE to stay there. so happy for you and jim!

Wendy Hames said...

Awww, what a wonderful weekend! Great job, Jim! Congrats on 10 years of marriage to both of you. I found Gracehill on the internet a year or two ago and SOOOOO wanted to go. Now I have a personal recommendation -- makes me want to go even more!

Matt said...

It's too bad sarcasm is so easily lost on the internet. I would comment that I didn't believe Jim had it in him to be so detail oriented. But based on a shared history of misinterpretation of electronic media, I'll go with "outstanding. Looks like it was a great time"

Bridgette said...

It was so neat to read about your trip! Happy Anniversary!