We left last Tuesday afternoon, 2/12, around 3:30 (after Greg got finished with a last minute meeting he had at work which ended up lasting all day - he wasn't a very happy camper) -- we had planned on leaving early Tuesday. Greg had to drive in thunderstorms the majority of the way to Gatlinburg. We had a wonderful drive together though - we were really looking forward to our week away! Around 11:00 pm we stopped at a gas station to stretch our legs and when we walked inside we could smell pizza cooking. Greg LOVES pizza! He asked me if I wanted some and I told him I would eat some of his (my normal response - LOL - saves me from eating so much!) so we walked over and got in line. The pizza place was next to a little chicken place. The young boy behind the counter at the chicken place announced that he was getting ready to close and if anybody wanted FREE chicken they could come get it because otherwise it was all going in the trash. Hmmmm, did he say FREE!?! That FREE beats Pizza anyday! We walked over and said "well, we'll take a chicken breast and a thigh." That boy took two boxes and filled them slam full with breasts, chicken strips, thighs, potato logs, and biscuits!! What a blessing it was!
We arrived around 1:00 am our time (2:00 Gatlinburg/central time). We were staying this first night with another couple in their time share instead of in the chalets with the other 7 couples who drove up early. There were only supposed to be 6 couples plus ourselves who arrived on Tues and the 7 of us were going to stay in the chalet that first night but then at the last minute another couple decided they wanted to go up early too and they were just going to sleep on an air mattress until we told them we would stay at the time share condo with some friends. Not a sacrifice - let me assure you!! LOL This was a VERY NICE condo!
I am so glad we decided to go one day early or else we would have completely missed the snow! When we woke up Wednesday morning it had started with a few snow flurries. By about 10:00 am it was really snowing and the wind was blowing and the temp was dropping. We walked around downtown and took pictures everywhere as the snow began to stick on everything - it was beautiful! The people who waited until Wednesday to come up missed it unfortunately because our temps the rest of the week were in the high 50's and low 60's....the snow was gone!
On Friday we took a group into the Smoky Mountains. So many of the couples that were up here with us on this retreat had never been to Gatlinburg before so all of this was new to them. We had such a wonderful time on this retreat! We stayed in a chalet with these two couples as well as 3 other couples. We were up VERY late every night shooting pool, playing games or learning how to play Guitar Hero on the Wii (my NEW addiction!! - this was soooooooo much fun!)
Me up at Newfound Gap. We drove up there and then over into Cherokee, NC. It was cold up here!
Greg wanted us to walk out there to have our picture taken in front of the Falls. I was scared to death of the slippery terrain. Our dear friends who were holding our cameras have several lovely shots of me on my hands and knees climbing over there to this log! Uhhh, gee thanks!
This shot was taken Sunday morning as we were preparing to leave. It was a sunrise picture my husband captured. The clouds look so neat! We left at 8:00 am for our 8 hour drive back home.
Our last picture before leaving from the chalet. We had such a wonderful week together and with 17 other couples from church - we were all sad to see it end!
We ended up driving home in awful, horrible weather. Greg has a Blackberry for work and he kept getting the emergency weather notification emails through his Blackberry for our area at home. We heard that a tornado had just gone through our area where we live and we knew our family was in church and would be getting out of church soon so we were anxiously waiting to hear from them. We started listening to the radio as we drove because we could tell the weather was turning worse and worse the farther south we were headed. Once our family started getting out of church, the phone calls started - they began calling to let us know that we were headed for horrible tornado weather. We drove through Prattville, AL between tornadoes. We saw destruction, trees down, construction cones blown all over the road and car accidents all day long. We even watched an SUV hydroplane and spin out in the median - praise God they never flipped!
As soon as we got off the interstate near our house we pulled off the road at a gas station and met up with our friends we'd been traveling with (they were in a truck behind ours most of the way)
and we were all praising God for our safe journey home and talking about all the destruction we had seen and thanking God that the sun had come out now and we looked over and saw this rainbow peeking out....I love rainbows....always reminds me of God's promises!
I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”