Please press pause

How can it already be the last week of summer vacation? I am not ready for the start of the school year and would like to press the pause button. Or at least the “slow time down a bit” button. I haven’t even downloaded all of our photos from Family Vacation 2013 – a down home Smoky Mountain vacation by way of Midway, Kentucky and home by way of Nashville.  A nine day jaunt that included two days of travel that equated to seven days filled with many relished experiences to pass along.

Weisenberger Mill

wisenberger mill in Kentucky

Weisenberger Mill is less than 10 minutes off the Interstate and a worthy reason to pack light. How I wish we had had more trunk space. My mere 10 lbs of their whole wheat pastry is not going to last long.  I was hooked at first bite after baking a batch of these drop biscuits. The whole wheat pastry flour rendered the biscuits lighter, fluffier, and moister than regular course wheat flour and was just as delightful in zucchini bread.

Wallace Street Station

If you don’t recall the taste of pure, unadulterated beef then be sure to visit Wallace Street Station if you’re in the area. It’s a short scenic drive from the flour mill and every bite is worth the wait.

The Doughnut Friar in the Village Shops of Gatlinburg

If doughnuts are your weakness, your portion-control strength will be tested simply standing in the threshold of the Doughnut Friar. For just a second I fantasized saying,  “I’ll take one of each.”  Then I remembered my soon-to-be 45 year old metabolism. My will power held during our vacation but thank goodness there isn’t such a Friar within 50 miles in any direction of my little suburb. Those doughnuts are that good.

 Big Creek Expeditions

“Oh sweet Jesus! It smells like catfish bait!”

It’s not often a Wisconsinite hears such a lively exclamation and I might add, a very apt description of our school bus full of dry people wearing river-water soaked life jackets and helmets.  I just couldn’t put my nose on exactly what it was that we collectively smelled like, but there you have it. And that was on the ride to the drop-in point.

Being the careful and cautious traveler that I am – one who is 99.99% likely to never set butt on a jet ski in any ocean again after last year’s excursion – this trip was a welcome respite. The water flow is dependent on the flow of the dam and, of course, the amount of rainfall. Thankfully, it was a good year weather-wise and there were only three class 4 rapids with only one of the rapids bearing resemblance to my first class 4 experience.  The scenery was beautiful, our guide was fantastic, and the trip was worth the bus ride stench.  A highly recommended expedition for families that include first time rafters.

The Hungry Bear

These folks take their butts as seriously as they do their sausages. It’s pork heaven and an obvious hot-spot for local diners considering the steady flow of customers. And only four customers were water-soaked, slightly smelly mid-westerners, two of which openly ooh’d and ahh’d with every bite.

Hungry Bear Restaurant

Our family has road-trip vacationed for the past five years, but this trip was different. This family vacation was our ‘feel the love one more time’ road trip, because it very well may be our last family vacation for a while. My first baby is going to be a {gulp} senior in high school and there is a post-graduation foreign trip already  inked in for next summer. (The ink comes with the initial down payment.) Thus, the bracing reality of how time continues to whiz by at warp speed.

I  can still remember my own mother tearing up while chatting with me about the upcoming school year as she was preparing dinner. It was the summer of 1985 and my sister was beginning college and I was entering my last year at of high school. I knew it wasn’t the onions that were making her cry and I clearly recall sitting across the counter, completely bewildered by the tears and thinking what a freak.  Twenty seven years later, I’m the freak.  I’m doing my best to squelch my gulps and so far so good.  I’m saving them for next June. To date my firstborn baby has only informed me that I’m a little cheesy…but she still loves me. {Double gulp.}

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