Up early today as we had to leave for the airport at 9am. However we were just about to leave when I got an email from Delta saying that our flight had been delayed from midday to 1.30pm. We still left as planned as once M, E & Victoria (her flight home wasn't until 9.50pm) dropped us off they were going to see Lily for her 3rd birthday.
We went to check in and were told that we were going to be Super Shutttled over to Fort Lauderdale as our flight from Miami wasn't due to leave until 2pm. The flight from FL was 12.33pm and this was just before 11am. We trusted the check-in supervisor and got into the shuttle van. We appeared to be going round the airport and yes we were - back to where we started to pick someone else up. It was then into Fort Lauderdale itself to drop the bloke off. By this time I was steaming and said to the driver in no uncertain way that we were now about to miss our flight as it was leaving in 45 minutes! He put his foot down and got us to the airport with ONE minute left before check in closed. It was then a rush through security to our gate - thank goodness FL airport is small. The only saving grace was that we got extra legroom and more comfy seats which was just as well as we we both needed to calm down. I will be writing to Delta to complain! We trusted them to do the right thing and it most certainly didn't work out that way.
We collected our rental car - a Hyundai Elantra and drove up to Waynesville, a distance of 268 miles which took us 4 hours. I drove the first half and then Richard took over. We stopped at Ingles Food Market in Waynesville for supplies and drove up to our little hideaway in the dark. Our good old Tomtom got us directly to the bottom of the drive. It took us ages to find the key safe - we were told it was close to the front door but it wasn't. Fortunately I always carry a torch so we were able to find it,
The house, Swiss Cottage is lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing more in the morning.
The photos below are of M and E's house.
Oh and this is Melvin
Yet another early start as we were booked onto the Great Smoky Mountain Railway in Bryson City - 37 miles and 42 minutes. We arrived checked-in and were given an insulated drinks cup each along with our tickets. Up (and I mean up) onto the train and found our seats. We had booked seats in an open carriage with seats facing outwards - great views and nice and cool. Our tickets gave us unlimited soft drinks, pulled pork sandwiches, apple pie and a tote bag.
The views from the train were stunning especially once we got alongside Lake Fontana - I hope my photos do it justice. Once we left the lake we followed the Nantahala River where there is an outdoor sports centre, the main activity of which is white water rafting. We saw lots of rafts and kyacks along with the inevitable upside down ones! We stopped for an hour at the outdoor centre and had a wander round before boarding the train again and heading back to Bryson City.
We both so enjoyed the train - it was very special and especially as it was the first real day we have had to ourselves for 8 weeks.
Back to the supermarket to buy dinner. We won't be eating out here in the evenings as it is quite a long and tortuous road back to the house from the main road. We bought steak to BBQ and a cooked chicken for tomorrow however when we got home we discovered that the BBQ needs charcoal (we are too used to gas) so had to have the chicken.
It was a quick dip in the hot tub - both hot tub first timers! We enjoyed it but won't be getting one 😀
Monday - US Memorial Day
A quiet day was called for this morning. I spent the morning ditting on the veranda catching up on emails and blog writing. This is what I was looking at
This afternoon we went and drove the southern most part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a 469 mile highway which was started in 1936 and not finished until1987. It runs through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Apalachians and finally the Smokies. We plan to do more of it over the next couple of days. The views were amazing and we were struck by the fact that the mountains are just thick with trees. At one stage we were at 6000 feet and there was still much higher peaks around us - still covered with trees. When you think that Ben Nevis is 4400 feet and even though I have never been to the top I am pretty sure it's not covered with trees!
At the end of the Parkway we went through Cherokee - I'm glad I didn't have any pre-destined thoughts about the place as it was one long road with wooden chalets selling Indian gifts! We didn't even stop to look in a shop!
It was then back to Swiss Cottage via the supermarket - yet again and then after a long tribulation Richard managed to light the BBQ and cooked a lovely steak each.