I went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a conference this past week. We go every year, but this time was different.
It had been almost a year since fires struck and burned the Smokies. I don’t know the statistics about how many acres were destroyed, but I remember hearing about people trying to escape. Some of them didn’t make it out. I saw the news reports and videos of our vacationland burning. It was too sad, but I watched anyway and prayed.
A few days ago, a friend and I drove the nature trail that winds back through the mountain above Gatlinburg. We saw stumps of burned trees and foundations that had supported vacation cabins. It was still beautiful, still majestic. A fire challenged the mountains and the mountains won.
The undergrowth was growing nicely. Nature was replenishing with new shoots from the roots that were hidden far under ground.
This isn’t my usual humorous look at life post, but I had to talk about what we saw. I read another friend’s article about the fire she’d written right after it happened and I got teary-eyed. It’s still emotional and I’m so glad that things are getting back to semi normal in the Smokies.
It was good to see the new construction going on as new hotels and vacation cabins are being built back.
Don’t worry — all our favorites are still there — you can still get taffy that will stick to your teeth and get your name air brushed on a t-shirt. I can still get my cinnamon doughnut at the Village bakery.
Dollywood is thriving, although the fires did get close to the theme park. I think they lost some of their vacation rentals. Dolly didn’t let the tragedy slow her down, though, and raised enough money to be able to help a lot of people who needed it. I think she could teach the government something about raising and distributing money.
Like I said, I’ll get back to the funny stuff next time. I just needed to report on the Smokies and let everybody know it’s gonna be ok.