1st Annual Great Smoky Mountains Father-Son Jeep Trip 2022

This Labor Day Weekend, my dad and I decided to take my Jeep across the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If I was an Enneagram 3, I would have been stressed out by trying to cram in the nearly dozen items I planned for our itinerary. Instead, I am an Enneagram 6; meaning I overplanned and overprepared, but I am happy to just accomplish some of the tasks on the list.

So we ended up doing 3 of the 11 items: We found and drove across the entire Foothills Parkway. We stopped for dinner at a true German restaurant. And we stayed overnight in an RV.

It’s important to my wife that we stay in a nice place anytime we travel. But personally, I’d be happy staying at a Motel 6.

Even though she wasn’t even going on the trip, she talked me into staying an an Airbnb RV; since it was the same price as the cheapest motel she could find.

It’s funny because I had just recently looked back on the lyrics to a song I wrote 4 years ago, called “Fort Payne, Alabama“, which sort of predicted this:

“If you called me Mother Nature’s son, I’d take it as a compliment – I’d trade a Lexus for an RV, a mansion for a tent.”

I’ve accepted that in life, things seldom work out the way you plan them. So you plan ahead- and then you just wing it, when it doesn’t go as planned.

Clearly, that is evidenced by the fact we didn’t get around to visiting the majority of the stops on our trip; including Top of the World, Tennessee.

But fundamentally, the only thing that mattered is that we had a fun adventure together. And that’s exactly what we did.

I suppose for next year, we shall try again to find and visit the mysterious town of Top of the World, Tennessee.

It had served as the reference point for us finding the very elusive start of the Foothills Parkway.

Plenty more left to explore based on this year’s agenda!

Dear Jack: Papa’s “New” Jeep in Big Canoe, GA

10 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Last week our family went back to Big Canoe, Georgia. Back in March, it was for your Spring Break.

But this time, it was for Mommy and me celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary and 4th of July weekend. And this time, Nonna and Papa were there to celebrate with us as well.

I had been telling Papa that just a mile or so away from our cabin, there would be a customized Jeep trail; which only 4×4 vehicles could traverse.

Just in time, Papa bought a 1999 Jeep Wrangler, to go along with my 2010 Jeep Wrangler: “Goldilocks” and “Black Beauty”.

Aside from the swimming pool, I’d say your other favorite memory was getting to ride in the back of Papa’s Jeep.

Compared to my Jeep, both you and Mommy said the seats are more comfortable.

Maybe it’s because his is the fancier version- the Sahara.

Also, I think it’s cool how Papa’s Jeep is from the year Mommy and I graduated high school: 1999.

And mine is from the year you were born: 2010!

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Only Love Being in My Jeep When I Take Off the Top

10 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend felt right to go ahead and remove the hard top from my Jeep for a while.

I was surprised earlier this week when you specifically requested, “Daddy, will you drive me to school? I actually like being in the Jeep when the top is off.”

You say there’s not enough room in the back when the top is on.

I’m sure a lot of it too, is that you like being able to, as you sister says, “Crawl through the window to get in.”

So for my 40th birthday dinner out, we drove as a family to a neighboring town with the top off.

There were zero complaints!

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Holly: I Taught You How to Drive Your Pink Jeep Wrangler This Week

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

Though you received your pink Jeep as a Christmas gift, the weather’s just now getting nice enough to drive it!

Up until now, your brother has always driven it with you as the passenger.

But this week, you asked me if you could drive it for the first time by yourself. You were ready.

You were hesitant backing it out of the garage. I assured you it was okay, as I instructed you to steer while I pressed the gas pedal with my hand.

By the time you drove out of the garage, you didn’t need any more lessons from me!

You were gone.

To enhance your driving training, your brother chased you on your pink Big Wheels.

You are proud to drive a Jeep like Daddy!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Using Your Pink Jeep to Haul Around a Rotting Pumpkin

4 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

This past weekend, though the weather was barely warm enough to do so, we spent some time outside so you could play in your new Jeep you got for Christmas.

Your brother decided to take an old pumpkin that has been sitting on our front porch since Autumn and began to have fun destroying it in the cul-de-sac.

Your new Jeep was used to carry that heavy load around until your brother found a good spot to roll it down the hill.

It’s a good thing you have hefty new vehicle to help in events like this one!

Love,

Daddy