Part Four: April 23 – 25. Resting and playing in TN.

Wednesday morning, April 23, Justin and I had to get to the airport around 9:00 for our 10:00 flight. Bill had a meeting, I think, so we said our good-byes to him at the house before leaving, and then Lynn dropped us off at the airport. I have to repeat again how wonderful it was getting to know them better and being able to stay at their home during this trip. I’m very happy that Justin was able to reconnect with them, after not being in touch with them for so long. I hope that we’re able to keep in touch better from here on.

Our flight from San Diego back to Atlanta was really one of the easiest flights we’ve had. We had one layover in Phoenix, but the second flight was on the same exact airplane as the one we flew in on, so we got off to get some food, but then came right back to the same airplane. They even let us board at the front of the line, along with all the people willing to pay extra money for their seats. We were at the very last seats on the airplane, instead of the very front of the airplane, and I do mean the VERY last seats, but it was still pretty cool. If the guy who sat next to Justin had been at all nice, it would have been a better flight. But at least the transitions were easy.

We landed in Atlanta, figured out how to get to the Park ‘n’ Go shuttle, picked up the car, and set off to Chattanooga where we’d be spending the night. It’s not a long drive, maybe 2 1/2 hours, but it had been a long day traveling, several hours of it in the air or in airports, and the 3-hour time difference did have an effect. We got to the hotel after dark and had a little trouble figuring out how to check in when the guy at the desk had trouble remembering that Mom and Dad had stopped in to check us in and pay. We did get it figured out eventually and collapsed into our room.

I don’t remember if we even bothered to get dinner. I just remember that we were in a big bed with nice sun-blocking curtains, and we slept for a LONG time. The next morning/early afternoon, we found a really nice shopping center, picked up presents for the TN Fritz kids, got yummy food and a few other things that we needed, and then set off to Nathan and Amy’s house.

Apparently, I set off for the WRONG house and it’s a good thing that Dad called to make sure I had the right address. It didn’t mess up our travel, because we hadn’t reached the spot where we would have erroneously turned right when we should have turned left, but it could have been an embarrassing mess.

The drive, by the way, was BEAUTIFUL. There were several times where Justin and I were nearly speechless, just exclaiming one-word descriptions of the area we were driving through, mostly words like “Heaven” or “Perfect.” We both are so completely in love with the mountains and hills of the Smoky Mountains. Justin, at one point, said that he finally understood what people meant when they say that they’ve left their heart somewhere (like “Left my heart in San Francisco”) because he just can’t imagine being as happy anywhere else as being in those mountains makes him feel. And I genuinely started to cry, tears dripping down my face, because I feel absolutely the same way, and I’d been worrying that I wanted to drag him away to somewhere that I wasn’t sure he’d be as happy as I think I will be. Most of the way to Nathan’s house, until we left the mountains, we had to keep fighting the urge to just pull off on a back road, get out of the car, and stay for a while.

But we had places to be and birthday wishes to give.

When we drove up to Nathan and Amy’s house, almost everybody was out in the yard working or playing. We said our hello’s and spent a wonderful afternoon with the TN Fritzes and Mom & Dad. Mostly, we sat around and chatted, watched/joined the kids playing, and then had a yummy meatloaf dinner. Then we watched Ethan open presents, somewhere in there I got a guitar lesson with Dad, and watched Frozen with the kids, where, yes, I did sing along with the songs along with the kids.

We really would like to be closer to family and it’s one of the things we’re looking forward to, when we get around to moving into the mountains. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with everybody. And Justin had an absolute blast playing around with Ethan, for sure.

And then, much too quickly, it was time to head back to Chattanooga. Nathan’s house in the Central Time Zone and our bed was in the Eastern Time Zone, so it was going to be another late night for us. And while it’s not a long drive from Spring Hill to Chattanooga, something close to 2 hours, it’s not nearly so pretty after dark.

Friday, we rested. We arranged to stay another night at the same hotel again. My allergies caught on to the SPRING! that was happening all over and started to make me really miserable. We picked up a roll of quarters and found a laundromat to wash a couple loads of laundry, since we hadn’t packed quite enough to make it through the whole length of the trip. We thought about trying to find something fun to do on a Friday night in Chattanooga, but we were both so tired and worn out from everything that we’d done and been through in the last several days, that all we wanted to do was rest. We went out to dinner early and then went to bed. Justin was starting to not feel very well and my allergies were in full swing and we were TIRED. So we didn’t get to explore the city again, which was something I would have liked to do again, but the timing was bad. We’ll go back up again and spend more time, but for this portion of the trip, what we needed was REST.

And that’s the end of Part Four.