December 7, 2018

Dateline: Sevierville Tennessee-

I haven’t posted anything long form for a while because there hasn’t been a lot to write. Once I returned from Seattle, things went back pretty much to same old same old. Work was work. I spent some time with friends. I pretended to do some chores around the house. The usual. There wasn’t anything terribly exciting about any of it and, as I have said before, it was very much sleepwalking through someone else’s life.

Things are picking up this weekend. A bunch of long time theater friends decided a few months ago to get a cabin in the Smokies for a weekend of camaraderie this weekend. Why this weekend? Several of them are involved in teaching theater and this is the weekend between the State Trumbauer competition (the Alabama State high school theater event) and the Christmas craziness. As I happened to be either at the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time sitting around Kimberly Kirklin and Stephen Mangina‘s pool when the idea came to fruition, I was included in the invitation so, as I had a half day today, I drove up into the Tennessee mountains to a lovely Air B and B cabin with seven friends from Birmingham theater circles.

I swear my GPS was having fun with me after I turned off the interstate at Knoxville heading for Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. Many winding roads through hollers and over razorback ridges including one that could be, at best, described as a cart track, but I did finally make it as did the rest of the gang. Good dinner tonight in Pigeon Forge followed by many cocktails and raucous conversation at the cabin following. We have plans to be tacky tourists in Gatlinburg tomorrow.

I’m considering this weekend to be a palate cleanser for the big trip which starts a week from Sunday. While travel is on the brain, I also put down a deposit for a Rhine/Danube river cruise this next July. Should anyone want to be a travel companion, the cabin has a second bed… drop me a line.

The last time I was in Pigeon Forge was pushing 30 years ago. Steve and I drove through on one of our trips to various county courthouses in Appalachia doing research for his family tree. He was determined to track down all the Spivey descendants of Zadock Spivey who settled in Eastern Kentucky in the late 1700s. He found quite a few of them over time. He had documents and oral histories and all sorts of other ephemera on his Scots-Irish Highland ancestry which I helped him run down and I was the one who typed up all the family trees. After his death, I donated it all to the Kentucky State Historical Society in case any of his distant cousins ever becomes interested and wants to continue the work.

Steve rediscovering his roots outside of Gatlinburg

I don’t remember a lot about that last trip to Pigeon Forge other than being rather mystified at the number of mini golf and go kart places that could survive on a single highway. We did stop at Dollywood, but we did not go in as we had an appointment with a county clerk somewhere that afternoon. Steve stuffed his shirt to look like breasts and told a number of startled tourists that he was Dolly and he looked that way after losing most of her hair to chemotherapy. I don’t think anyone believed him. I managed to get him away before security arrived. Steve would be 70 if he had lived. Sometimes I try to imagine a 70 year old Steve. It doesn’t quite work.

I should be writing my column on The Crimes of Grindelwald, but I’m just not feeling it. Maybe tomorrow.

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