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!
I learned yesterday that my blog was the recipient of the Sunshine Blogger Award by Jessica at thishappymommy.com. If you haven’t heard of The Sunshine Blogger Award, it’s an award for bloggers from bloggers. It’s a way of recognizing bloggers who are positive and who creatively inspire others. Jessica’s blog is one that I enjoy as well and I hope you’ll check her out as her blog is terrific!
Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. Nominate 11 bloggers and add their links. Notify the bloggers you included. Keep the rules in your post.
The Questions for me:
What makes you happy? So many things, hmmm….retirement, a rare, really good night’s sleep, sitting in my garden or in front of a roaring fire with a glass of wine and Spence by my side.
What makes you laugh out loud? Funny animal videos and always Jon Stewart when he did The Daily Show.
Who’s your favourite comedian or comedic actor?One of my favorite stand up comedians is Tim Bedore Why? He does Wednesday morning segments called “Vague but True” on the Bob & Tom Radio Show that are so clever and original. I have several of his CD’s, saw him in person and got a chance to meet him. “Animal Conspiracy” is a classic. Spence and I take the CD’s on road trips and crack up every time we listen. Brilliant.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Barcelona or Santorini have been on my bucket list for years.
What’s your favorite season or time of year? You might think with my love of gardening that it would be summer but I adore the autumn in Michigan. That first cool down in temps, the color changes of the trees that takes your breath away is hard to top. My second favorite is spring when everything starts to come back to life, green grass, flowering trees, hyacinth, tulips, bluebells and daffodils appear.
Do you crave sweet or savoury food?Since going on Weight Watchers seven months ago, I’ve weaned myself off sweets (among other things) and find that I’m craving salty and savory dishes. Which is not to say that I don’t have the occasional piece of pie….
If you had a theme song, what song would it be? “Everything” by Michael Buble is such a happy song about having found that someone who is your everything. You simply can’t be sad if that song comes on and I never tire of it. It’s a musical anti-depressant.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? This may not be the answer you were going for but being able to retire at age 57 was the greatest gift. I consider that I gave it to myself but also that Spence gave it to me since I never could have done it with out his full support. It has opened up the best chapter of my life so far.
Do you prefer talking or texting?I was late to the texting party and I like the convenience but nothing beats talking with eye contact, smiles and laughter.
What inspired you to start blogging? I’ve always enjoyed writing and had talked about doing it in retirement. Blogging felt like the perfect outlet, allowing me to share a broad variety of things that I love. I never would have dreamt that I’d love it so much and would reach so many supportive people from all over the world – that’s been the most lovely surprise!
Besides blogging, what else do you enjoy doing?I enjoy cooking, gardening, travel, wine, reading, movies, dancing, music, snuggling with our cats, Tipper and Biscotti, seeing friends and family and hanging out with Spence. And watching the Food Network. And binge watching TV series. And as I mentioned before, a good night’s sleep!
My nominees (and I hope you’ll check them out) are:
And here are the questions for my nominees, should they accept the Sunshine Blogger Award:
If you could choose your favorite meal, what would it be?
Are you a morning or an evening person?
What goals have you not yet achieved?
You get to pick a movie to watch tonight – do you choose comedy, drama, chick flick or slasher?
Who is your favorite author?
Who do you most admire?
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
Do you speak more than one language?
Name one of the items on your bucket list?
What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know?
Fill in the blank “I wish ________”
I hope my nominees will accept and I look forward to reading their answers. If not, just know that your blogs brighten my day and I look forward to your posts!! Thank you again Jessica for your nomination.
My Sunday is starting off with a splendid sunrise at our little log cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains, birds singing and a gentle breeze. Sitting on the deck with a cup of peppermint tea. Life is perfect!