GATLINBURG, Tennessee, Monday—We reached Natural Bridge on Saturday at about 7 p.m. after a most glorious drive through the Shenandoah Park. The Skyline Drive is really very beautiful. Having started late—at a quarter of 1, to be exact—we didn’t stop until nearly 3 o’clock, when we pulled out at one of the parking places with a glorious view down into a ravine and drank hot coffee. We had brought orange juice also, but our hands were so cold that we couldn’t unscrew the top. We’ve learned, however, to accept such vicissitudes with calm, and we were grateful that it happened to be the coffee which we were able to unscrew! With my usual optimism, I thought that Spring began in April, but it really was mid-Winter—beautiful, clear blue sky and cold as Greenland.
After dinner we wandered down to see the illumination and pageant. The lighting is beautiful, and gives it all a mysterious, almost prehistoric aspect. This morning after breakfast we walked down along the stream again, under the Bridge, and thought it just as impressive as it was last night. It is extraordinary to think what years it has taken of slowly dripping water to break through that stone wall, and the old arbor vitae trees, said to be over a thousand years old, were a tremendous surprise to me, for I didn’t know they ever lived that long.
Sunday’s drive began at 10:30, and, until we came in view of the Great Smokies, the scenery was not as impressive as it was yesterday. We were stopped once by a constable, who had a telegram that had evidently been following us since early morning. Miss Hickok was driving, and I cheered her by saying that, while I had no idea what she had done, I was sure we were going to be arrested, so she had the laugh on me when it turned out to be nothing more than a telegram urging me to stop at Greenville, Andrew Johnson’s birthplace. Unfortunately we had not allowed enough time for any stops along the road, and so I had to decline.
We reached Gatlinburg at about 7:30, and we are both enchanted with the hotel, in which the furniture is all made by local craftsmen. The rooms are panelled. The curtains are woven in the local craft shop. And, though it is too dark for me to be sure tonight, I have a feeling that we are going to look out tomorrow morning on a panorama of mountain tops.
The last thing we saw tonight, as we drove in, was the deep blue of the mountain sides in contrast with the white snow and the white clouds floating above, which looked almost like mountain peaks themselves. Mountains have a beauty and a calm which should have a soothing effect on the most worried of little human souls.
We’re off in the morning to Cades Cove, and I have to file this before I go, because the nearest telegraph office is in Knoxville, and I feel that, if I wait until I return in the afternoon, it might not get in in time.E.R.
Only eight more days … Funny how even the dearest face will fade away in time. Most clearly I remember your eyes, with a kind of teasing smile in them, and the feeling of that soft spot just north-east of the corner of your mouth against my lips… .