While visiting our daughter in Georgia last month we had the opportunity to take the family for a weekend drive north across the border to the mountain town of Gatlinburg, TN, known as the "Gateway to The Great Smokey Mountains." We only had a couple of days to spend in the area and we let the kids choose what they wanted to see. Our grandson is just two years old and not quite ready for hiking up in the mountains yet, so they elected to stay within the more commercial areas and visit some of the local attractions. We found a spacious condo right on the edge of the town with a nice view of the surrounding hills.
There was a cute little village style shopping area a short walk down the road. We poked around in a few of the gift shops while our grandson wanted to spend his time throwing pennies in the fountains. Of course I found an Olive Oil shop.
My daughter, has always been a great admirer of the movie Titanic which was first released 25 years ago. Hard to believe! She was in middle school when it came out. She would watch it over and over again. She never got over her fascination for the story. So when she learned there was a Titanic Museum in the Gatlinburg area we all knew we had to pay a visit. It was pretty impressive and well worth touring.
This is a model of the Titanic which was built by an autistic young man who donated it to the museum when it was completed. It was quite amazing.
At the beginning of our tour, we each received a biography of a passenger so we could try to see where they might have stayed while on board and what happened to them when it went down. We were able to walk around and imagine what it might have been like to be a passenger on board the ship.
We looked at models of what would have been 2nd and 3rd class rooms, as well as a full size stateroom for first class passengers such as John Jacob Astor and his wife. No matter what class you were when you arrived on board the Titanic, the same tragedy struck all. While Madeleine was rescued, her husband John Astor, the richest man on board, went down with the ship along with hundreds of other husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.
Of course there was a replica of the famous grand staircase and the glass dome.
" The Grand Staircase: The fabulous Grand Staircase was located between the first and second funnels and was where the 1st class passengers boarded the Titanic ship. The Grand Staircase was 13 feet wide and was over 60 feet high and was decorated with oak paneling and gilded balustrades. It provided access to 7 decks."
It is assumed that this beautiful work of art crashed through the dome as the ship broke apart. Very little of it remained when the Titanic was finally discovered. No one knows if it broke away from the ship or if it just disintegrated over time.
"Sadly the Grand Staircase is gone forever and lives on only in photographs from the time and the ghostly images of the wreck which show a gaping hole where the staircase once stood. Even the replicas cannot recreate the opulence of the original setting and the spirit of the Titanic."
Here are photos of some of those brave and noble musicians who continued to play in an effort to calm the hearts of passengers as the ship went down.
A view from the ship's bridge. There is a place where we could put our hands in the water to see how cold it was on that fateful night!
Even after all the years that have passed and knowing the story so well, it was a very moving experience. As we walked along looking at photos and reading about the lives of these people, I got teary eyed more than once as I looked at their faces. May God have had mercy on their souls.
On a happier note, our intrepid navigator had fun steering the ship up on the bridge.
We spent a bit of time just admiring the staircase.
We ended our afternoon with a walk through the town of Gatlinburg. The kids took us to a place called The Crazy Mason Milkshake bar, and it was crazy!! The place was packed with people and no wonder, as we had never seen so many sweet combinations of flavor. Each two of us split one, and even then it was too much.
We shared a photo of this chocolate time bomb on Facebook. Imagine a mason size jar filled to the brim with a thick fudgy chocolate ice cream shake, topped with a moistly dense double chocolate brownie and then topped with a rich creamy chocolate whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Boy! oh Boy! My chocoholic partner was in chocolate heaven!
Looking out the window of the car as we made our way home to the kids house the next morning, I imagined how even more beautiful this area will be once the trees are fully leafed out, and how spectacular the colors will be next fall. It's a truly beautiful country and I look forward to returning one day and spending some time up in the actual mountains.