We spent the last few days in Gatlinburg, TN, which is either the most blatant tourist trap east of the Mississippi and north of Orlando, or the coolest place to just have a relaxing, fun family time...depending on your point of view.
I'm not big on touristy stuff or cheesy shows or country music; but I do love the mountains and I really appreciate real artisan crafts. So I guess I'm somewhere in the middle.
We skipped all the 'tourist attractions' this go round and spent some time hiking one of the mountain trails...2.25 miles of the 8ish mile trail, climbing about 700 feet before we turned around (my calves are still complaining about that). But once we passed the first muddy place on the trail, most of the crowd dropped back and we pretty much had the trail to ourselves. It was a beautiful day. and I got some beautiful pictures, like this one:
But probably the neatest thing happened on the day when we cruised the Arts and Crafts Loop.
No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a trip to Alewine Pottery, and we were there before the crowd. Whilst we were perusing the stock, just taking in the vast array of beautiful pieces, a young lady came up to us and asked if we'd like our portraits drawn. 'It's free,' she said, 'Or, if you like, you can make a donation to St. Jude.'
Now, I follow AP on Instagram and Facebook, and I knew that there was a particular reason she was fundraising for St. Jude. So we asked her if she'd like us to come and sit for the portrait. She said that would be great, so we arranged ourselves in the rocking chairs in the lobby by the fireplace and watched as she picked up an ink pen and proceeded to studiously draw on one of the sheets of paper used to wrap the pottery after purchase.
We also watched work on lamp bases...careful finishing and embellishing of the basic shapes...as we sat for our portraits. After a bit, she commented that she wasn't going to draw the poses we were in...but that was fine with us. Eventually, she asked for our names and notated the picture, then she signed it.
Of course, we had to get a photo with the artist. We made our donation to St Jude in the jar on the counter; you can make yours here. It is one of the few organizations about which I feel no hesitation at all to promote on the blog.