Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bear Pause

Trying my very best to get into the right spirit for the fast approaching Winter Break, I booked 3 nights at Bear Pause cabin in Gatlinburg, TN.  I was actually snow bound for a solid week when the idea came to me.  I pictured the kids sledding and tubing down the beautiful Smoky Mountains.  Might as well make the best of it, right!  I took inventory of our snow clothes and even made an on-line Lands End purchase to fill in the missing items. 

The day finally arrived to leave for our Mountain Getaway. The only problem was it was 70 degrees!  The kids were in shorts and sweating as we were packing the car to leave.  Nevertheless, Bear Pause Cabin here we come!  We got started a little later than we planned, but weren't in a huge hurry, so everything was fine.  Then we hit Pigeon Forge which we must drive through to get to Gatlinburg.  The traffic was one long line of vehicles all going the same way.  Never having been to this part of the country, we didn't know if the traffic was always this bad, but I decided right then that I would not be returning.  Since we were traveling (and I use this term loosely) at a snail's pace, it allowed me to completely take in the town's flavor.  I've got to hand it to them, I have never seen such compacted tackiness in one 10 mile stretch of road.  As if trying to dodge a spitting man in the monster truck next to us wasn't entertaining enough, my eyes beheld elevated rotating pigs at the mini golf, a replica of the Titanic,  The Sweetheart Wedding Chapel, bungy jumping platforms and Hogs n Honey's Saloon and Grill, Home of the Hillbilly Hammer!  

We finally arrived at our destination the way we always arrive, hungry and in need of provisions.  The cabin was listed as within walking distance to town which would have been convenient.  As we ascended the windy, mountain road,  it was becoming clear that unless one regularly climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for sport, one would not be hoofing it to town.  We decided to drive back down and drive around to look for food.  Thankfully, we found a Papa John's and were saved.  Unfortunately, finding the cabin in the pitch darkness proved to be more difficult.  We drove up and down the mountain before finding our way back to the cabin.  Our son suggested that we stop and ask the man who he thought probably lived there for a long time, where our cabin was. One of our daughters asked if she was dead yet as we were driving blindly along the dark road! 

We set out the next day ready to explore all that Gatlinburg had to offer, sledding notwithstanding. My goal was to avoid the hundreds of  Mountain fudge and candy shoppes and tatoo and t-shirt stores if possible.   Thankfully the town is in the Smoky Mountain National Park and they have my favorite thing to do in the the whole wide world, hiking!  With any luck we would see a wild animal or two.  The weather was perfect for hiking, but the only animal we saw was the one we brought with us, Roxy our dog unless you count the dead flat bear you see in the picture.  My children aren't the quietest around so that might have had something to do with it.

The kids collected bbs left behind by the Indians, climbed every tree that they saw, skipped rocks in the river, and  played Trouble and pool with their very patient dad.  But the best part about our stay at the cabin has to be the hot tub. There's nothing like a hot tub to make a Mountain getaway fun. All in all, I would have to count our Mountain trip a success.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ode to Handy Man Painter

Having a bit of spring fever, I decided to paint my kitchen.  It's been a cheery shade of yellow which I have loved, but it's been 8 years now on the walls and time for a change.  I do not love to paint, nor do I have the gift of painting.  I confirmed this when I brought home tiny sample bottles of paint to try on the wall and proceeded to drip it on the counter, on the wood floor, and get it on the cuff of my favorite jacket sleeve.  I'm pretty sure what I detest about painting is the prep work of which I did none.  Now I have two paint splotches on the wall, neither of which is the right color, but now I'm committed.  Note to self, the cardboard paint samples work just fine taped to the wall.  Do not get sucked into the cuteness of the sample bottles.

My hard working husband was going out of town on business, perfect time to paint, right!  I decided to hire a painter/handy Man that my in-laws have used for various odd jobs.  He was extremely flexible and the price was right, two ominous signs that I chose to ignore.  Nevertheless, I wanted/needed the kitchen painted and I had two days to get it done.  This need is similar to the intense need that comes over me when I need to get my hair cut as soon as possible.  My prep only involved removing a few pictures from the walls as the kitchen is pretty open and purchasing the paint.  I purchased the paint and tape.  He informed me that he does not tape.  I found out that not only does he not tape, he does not prep at all! I asked him if he would do me the favor of taping and he proceeded to only tape selected baseboards and then began to paint.  I decided to practice patience and wait to see what the end result would be.  Maybe he would wow me with the fabulously perfect paint job? Alas, this was not the case. His painting was surpassed only by his professionalism. Before he left for the day, he asked for some gas money,half payment and if he could make himself a sandwich.  I spent the evening marking with tape all the places he had flung paint.  There was paint on the light switches,  paint splattered on the floor, paint dripping on the baseboards that he did not tape!  I decided to compile the following list of good things to know if you are painting for me.

If you are confident in your painting to state that you do not tape, then please don't drip paint! Prepping is important to me.  Please fill the nail holes, remove and replace the light switch covers and clean up.  Do not go outside and then come back in tracking dirt and leaves all over the house.  Do not leave the water hose on the lawn if you use them to rinse off brushes. And last but not least,I implore you to please pull up your pants when bending over!   Valuable lesson learned - you get what you pay for!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hobby Town

I've recently discovered the underground world of Men's hobbies.  It started little by little at our house a couple of years ago when our son was "old" enough to appreciate and operate motorized toys.  There are a surprising number of motorized toys on the market,cars,trucks,boats,trains,planes and helicopters and they can all be found at Hobby Town, not to be confused with Hobby Lobby which is mostly home decor.  Hobby Town apparently (I've never actually been) is a huge showroom where one can find not only the vehicles but endless vehicle parts and accessories to add to or fix the vehicle.  This is a good thing because these vehicles are not terribly rugged.

I went away for a girl's weekend and as soon as I walked in the door my son told me that my husband flew the just purchased helicopter high into the 100 ft. pine tree where it still is!  They are waiting for a wind storm to blow it down as it is too high to get to with a ladder.  So much for discretion.  My husband would not tell me the purchase price of the helicopter so I'm guessing it wasn't cheap.  Not only that, he went right back and purchased another one!  This is fast becoming an addiction.  Apparently as he was in line to pay for the second helicopter, he was relaying his story where there were fellow helicopter enthusiasts who had suffered the same fate. That's when the salesman said he forgot to tell him that these vehicles are like potato chips, no one can buy just one!

My husband has since purchased these strange balancing ping pong balls that attach to the helicopter to practice idling among other things.  He also found Hobby Town  carries items to aid in the pinewood derby race so our son's car does better than last year.  He assures me that it is not cheating! It's like a Toys R Us for grown men!  So far I have yet to see our son operate the vehicles although I'm told he does.  They went to the park this past Saturday, flew the latest helicopter and came back with most of it. I think a wing was broken and it needs to be calibrated, whatever that means.  Sounds like another trip to Hobby Town.