Knoxville and East TN
i made it to my hotel in knoxville in the late evening, ready for a shower and good night’s sleep. so my mind was on other things as i took my luggage out of the trunk. i didn’t realize that i had set my KEYS in the floor of the TRUNK until i had shut the trunk lid. i immediately screamed, “NOOOO!” as the trunk clicked close. i desperately ran around to the doors, hoping and praying that one of them was open even though i knew they weren’t. so i dragged all of my luggage into the hotel and checked in. i started laughing while standing in line. what else weird can happen on this trip?, i thought. i had the front desk guy call a locksmith for me and went upstairs to my room. i cranked the air conditioner and plopped onto the bed to make my customary call to my parents to let them know that another day passed and hadn’t gotten kidnapped. they laughed at me. again. i was becoming a very funny story they were telling to all their friends. the locksmith finally showed up and had my trunk open in less than a minute. i just kept shaking my head and saying, “this is so stupid.” he charged me $60 for his 60 seconds of work.
i got up early the next morning with a game plan. i was going to see some real life family history. i went to Jefferson City first. unfortunately, my family’s large home was destroyed a few years ago to make way for a burger king. so i saw the burger king. then i went to the cemetery to pay my respects to my great-grandparents. the cemetery was bigger than i expected. i couldn’t find them. i looked for nearly an hour. i got a sunburn. but i still didn’t find them. i did find a large amount of ‘titsworth’ family members. i smiled every time i passed one. so i made my way to Morristown next where i found my grandmother’s childhood home. it still looked the same, thank goodness. i can’t stand to see beautiful older homes in disrepair or destroyed like the one in Jefferson City. next, i took a winding country road (thank you, google maps!) to the presbyterian church founded by my ancestors. behind the church is a very old cemetery that contained lots of my family members. i even found my 4x great-grandfather, thomas! it was father’s day so i said a little prayer and thanked him for creating such a strong, spiritual family that always stood up for what they wanted and needed.
i drove back into knoxville and made my way to downtown. i had read online that there was some cool shopping down there. and yes, it was cool…and very expensive. i couldn’t afford anything, but it was all fun to look at. after having some chocolate gelato (something i could actually buy), i walked to the East Tennessee Historical Museum. it was pretty fascinating. not a big museum, but there are a ton of artifacts and information. i even found a book written by my 5x great uncle that inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. amazing! i had always heard the stories, but didn’t know the extent of the man’s influence.
i wasn’t planning on going to North Carolina. it was not in the plan or the budget. but my grandmother called me while i was in Montgomery and insisted i go to North Carolina. she offered to pay for me to stay in this tiny B&B my grandparents had just stayed at for several weeks. it was deep in the Smokies and expensive. i would not have been able to stay there if they hadn’t offered to put me up there. so i cut a day off of Knoxville (i had seen everything anyway) and headed straight into the Smokies. it rained for my whole drive, but it was beautiful. the air was cool and foggy as the rain stopped. i couldn’t help pulling over at like five overlooks to take pictures and enjoy the view. on the way to Bryson City, i stopped in Cherokee at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. my great-great-grandmother was supposedly a Cherokee indian so i wanted to get some more information. the museum gave me plenty of that. it was very well put together and interesting.
i knew i wanted to go on a hike in the woods so i found a pretty simple trail and packed my backpack with my lunch and camera. what i didn’t take into account but should have is afternoon showers. about a mile into the four mile hike, it started sprinkling. and then full on raining. at first, i thought of turning around and going back to my car. but i decided to just enjoy it. we hadn’t had rain in texas in awhile so i just walked in the rain. i even ran in the rain when i could. it was incredible. i was laughed at and questioned by people passing by in rain jackets and umbrellas. i didn’t even care. i just enjoyed every waterfall, uphill climb, and moss covered boulder. since i couldn’t check into the b&b yet, i drove in and walked around Bryson City. there were some cute shops and cafes, but as soon as i could, i drove up to my b&b. and i do mean up. the inn was perched on a hill overlooking the Smokies. it was so beautiful, quiet, and serene. i was clearly the youngest person there…by about 40 years. but i enjoyed it. there was a formal dinner and breakfast with great conversations. i was a little sad to leave the next day, but it was on to Nashville…