On February 8th, life took a serious turn. An emergency room nurse called to tell me Spence had been brought to a hospital in Ft Lauderdale where he’d been visiting his BFF for a month. I flew to Florida the next afternoon arriving at 1:00 a.m. February 10th. Little did I know how long we’d be there. As days passed, it became clear I had to get us back to Michigan. I googled “private plane charter” from my iPhone. True of any Google search, the choices were endless but my need was immediate. I chose the first option that appeared. That option was PrivateFly and I believe divine intervention led me to these angels.
Valentine’s Day was my first call to PrivateFly. I connected with Denison, explaining our situation learning he was even based in Fort Lauderdale. A worldwide company, PrivateFly is world class in every aspect – professional, hardworking and compassionate people that made me feel they cared. When I knew Spence would be discharged Saturday 2/18, it was late afternoon. I feared given the weekend and President’s Day that we wouldn’t be able to seriously begin the process of putting a flight back to Flint together until Tuesday.
That’s when PrivateFly surprised me as they worked on our behalf 24/7 – all weekend! Denison, Marion, Pierre (who’s based in London) and Jeremiah answered my calls on the first ring, updating me by phone and email as they searched for the right plane and best bid. By Sunday evening, they’d found our flight. In short order I was printing contracts on my hotel’s printer, faxing them back, finalizing everything by 10:30 p.m.. Marion was in constant contact that night, even arranging pickup from our hotel to the tarmac (in a brand new black Town Car no less). Our flight on Tuesday morning was stress free and pure bliss. Capping a wretchedly stressful thirteen days, these wonderful folks at PrivateFly put smiles on our faces. Denison even came to the airport to meet us. The flight lasted two hours and thirty two minutes from wheels up to wheels down, bringing Spence and I safely home in total comfort, seven newspapers, fluffy blanket included. With lovely gifts from PrivateFly and refreshments including a delicious fruit and dip platter, we’ve completed another item on our bucket list though not in the way we could have imagined.
Needing to get home quickly under crisis circumstances may not have made us PrivateFly’s typical clients. I rarely write endorsements on products or companies as you know if you’ve followed this blog. In a world where we’ve become accustomed to low expectations, I felt compelled to share our experience with PrivateFly. Every expectation was not just met but exceeded and I’ll be forever grateful for them.
Here’s a slideshow documenting the day we finally flew home to Michigan:
Last night as the sun set, the light filtering through my windows bathed everything in and outside in shades of pink. I looked outside, grabbed my camera (and Spence) capturing these photos over the next fifteen minutes.
Spence and I stay in a secluded log cabin in the mountains of Wears Valley when we travel to Tennessee but love that within ten to fifteen minutes we can be in Townsend, Sevierville or Pigeon Forge and within twenty minutes, Gatlinburg.
We’ve found several fun spots to enjoy a cold adult beverage, people watch, talk to locals and other tourists. If you’re traveling in the area, these places are worth checking out.
Dick’s Last Resort – Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg – From outlandish decor and servers with “attitude” this is a fun bar with tasty eats such as the Wicked Gator bites (yes gator – tastes like chicken) accompanied by deep fried jalapenos. And yes, there are numerous bras hung over the bar. Hilarious.
No Way Jose’s Cantina – Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg – Spence and I love Jose’s with ice cold beer and their outdoor cantina (in Gatlinburg) which overlooks the river. Food here is excellent as are the complimentary chips and salsa.
Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina in Gatlinburg – On a sweltering day, we walked by a doorway and felt a swoosh of cool air – that was all it took to lure us in. We hopped on the escalator to the second floor bar and restaurant (forgoing the rooftop bar one floor up). When we saw the funny barstools, we decided we’d sit there. Chris, our bartender, whipped up the most refreshing frozen banana dacquiris for me while Spence had beer. Chris was entertaining as were the tugboat captain and his wife from New Orleans that we bantered with. The menu looked great but we weren’t hungry – next time….
Crawdaddy’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Gatlinburg – While they have indoor seating, this second floor venue has a wrap-around-the-corner outdoor balcony, overlooking a main street in Gatlinburg which is a people-watchers dream – we always sit out there. I love their pina coladas and we typically order 1-2 dozen oysters as well as oyster shooters. Great service and a full menu of Cajun and seafood selections.
Friendly Falls Food & Stuff in Sevierville – This quaint place borders the Little Pigeon River as you drive along the curving mountain roads. Not only can you sit and have a cold beer overlooking waterfalls, you can walk down to Norbert’s Gem Mine and pan for gems and crystals (watch for a future post). It’s a fun, quirky, friendly place that is always on our list of things to do when in Tennessee.
On the way to and from our cabin in the woods, we pass this stand of sunflowers. Returning from our anniversary dinner last evening, I asked Spence to pull over so I could capture these beauties against the dramatic sky.
Seven years ago Spence and I were honeymooning in Savannah and Charleston. Headed north, we took an unplanned detour into the Great Smoky Mountains via North Carolina and ended up in Gatlinburg where we stayed for a few days.
The following year we discovered a special log cabin in the mountains of Wears Valley Tennessee (via homeaway.com) and have returned every year since. It is secluded, surrounded by the woods, very serene and totally relaxing. Wears Valley is located between Pigeon Forge and Townsend and we’re a mile from an entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Seveirville and Gatlinburg are a short drive away as is Cherokee North Carolina which is a picturesque drive through the park.
There is so much to do and see here. In this post, I’m sharing the some of my favorite photos of the sky, mountains and the woods.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this, stay tuned – there’s more to come!