Front and center from our third-floor room in our motel was the Space Needle, an enduring landmark among the tourist attractions at Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
During more than 3 decades of summer vacations to the Smoky Mountains we had made the elevator ride to the Needle’s topmost observation deck only once. We mostly avoided Gatlinburg crowds and the summer heat except trips for groceries or gas for our van.
instead we camped with our two boys in the national park where the campgrounds’ higher elevations and breezes off cold mountain streams kept us cool.
Plus, kids and adults alike found plenty of entertainment in tubing and splashing in the streams, hiking nearby trails, joining park rangers for campfire programs and walks or just sitting around our campfire with hot drinks and conversation.
But for one evening of each trip, we would load up the boys and take them to Gatlinburg. Sons and dad would rocket down a mountainside multiple times on the alpine slide, a gravity-powered ride at the Ober Gatlinburg amusement complex.
Next on the agenda would be strolling the main street, checking out new shops and sampling the chocolate, taffy, candied apples, hot pretzels and other goodies.The boys also tested their skills in the block-wide arcade at the base of the space needle.
Now the children who populated those memories are grown and their children are making new Gatlinburg memories.
How sweet it is!