Adjust Your Altitude


Riding the Annakeesta Sky Lift in Gatlinburg

March 27, 2021: Morning 

We loaded up into the car and made our way to Gatlinburg. Tenn., from little ole Jonesville, Louisiana. A small and underdeveloped town couldn’t hold down three wild girls like us. It was my older cousin, Jennifer (I call her NayNay), her daughter, Katie (I call her my sister since we’ve been best friends since birth), and me! 

NayNay loves to take Katie and I on trips and vacations as much as she can, and I don’t blame her–we are a hoot when we are together. We say the weirdest, funniest things and we always know how to make the room laugh. Katie is kind of my partner in crime, so I know I can always be myself when I am with her. 

During this time, I was recovering from Covid, and I never even knew I had it in the first place. I only figured out it was probably Covid months later after reflecting back on it and realizing my taste was different than usual, and my smell was gone. But, before you judge me, I get sinus infections a lot, and I just thought I had another one because I had an ear infection as well, but no other symptoms at all. It made sense to me at the time. Looking back, I was too naive to think I would never get it. 

March 27, 2021: Afternoon

Anyway, this is relevant information because on our trip to Gatlinburg, Katie and I went inside a gas station in the middle of nowhere because we were certain we were about to pee our pants, she entered first and immediately started gagging. 

I laughed and said, “I smell nothing.” 

She looked at me and said, “well, duh that’s because you’re sick!” Then she gasped and asked, “Do you think you have the ‘vid?!” 

I brushed it off and told her no way because I wasn’t affected in any other way, and we went about our business… somewhere else… Because that bathroom was gross…

March 28, 2021

We stayed the night in a hotel halfway between Louisiana and Tennessee because it was a 12-hour drive. The next morning, we drove straight to the condo we were staying at. There are so many curves to a mountain. Who knew? 

Turns out, NayNay got us a condo one block from the Gatlinburg Strip. I thought that was pretty cool, considering we could walk to many attractions and food and souvenir shops, and especially the moonshine distillery. I’ll come come back to that in a minute. We would walk the strip every night because there were fewer people, but it was full of drunks from the distillery. We didn’t mind. Entertainment is entertainment. 

On this day, we visited the Titanic Museum where each tourist was given a “ticket” with a real passenger’s name on it, and at the end of the tour, you got to figure out if your passenger lived or died on the ship. Katie and I survived, but NayNay died. We visited a few other attractions but I don’t remember much about those other than a few statues and some photo ops. 

March 29, 2021: Afternoon

A small and underdeveloped town couldn’t hold down three wild girls like us.

On our third day of this trip, we got up early and rode on the ski lift, which I thought was so cool. We could see all kinds of wildlife and nature on our way up to the mountain village, Annakeesta. I took the most beautiful mountain pictures and basked in the sunlight with my family. 

It was on this day I decided I was going to drink if I wanted to drink. I got the go-ahead from NayNay and ordered an apple beer. I know–it sounds gross. And it turns out, it was. Never again. 

We stopped by a little shop with cute stickers and tourist souvenirs, and I noticed a sticker that said, “Adjust Your Altitude.” I loved the pun because Katie and I always tell each other to adjust our attitudes. 

After Annakeesta, we drove into town to see a live show performed by actors while we were served a full course meal by the pirates of our team.  How cool is that? I felt like royalty or something. It was like the country went city. I was in complete awe. The show was something about red pirates versus blue pirates, and between you and me, the red pirate was flirting with me, and I was okay with that. 

March 29, 2021: Evening

After the pirate show, we made our way back to the Strip in downtown Gatlinburg, and I asked if we could visit the moonshine distillery (finally). NayNay was down for the idea and Katie remarked on how I’m not going to like it.

 “Nah,” I said, “I’ll like it, it’s got a lot of fruity flavor options. They even have a pickle flavor, and I love pickles.” 

So we made our way down to the Smokey Mountain Distillery to taste the worst concoctions imaginable (little did I know). I walked up to a tasting booth, paid my fee to participate, and handed the man my ID. He judgingly looked at the plastic card, and then back at me, and then back at the card, and back at me. He was deciding if it was believable or not. And it was real! The nerve. 

“I’m not  ballsy enough to give a fake,” I told him.

He laughed, said he believed me and started laying out little shot glasses. There had to have been at least 30 mini shot glasses. He then poured each flavor, explaining how they made it and how popular each flavor was amongst certain groups of people. 

When he finally wrapped up his entertaining explanation, he finished pouring the last mini shot and said, “This is the easiest to get down. It’s strawberry cheesecake. The ladies love it. Why don’t you start there?” 

So I picked up the little shot with enthusiasm, thinking, “I’m gonna get drunk.” 

I sipped the liquid and immediately wanted to gag. That shit tasted like strawberry-scented gasoline in a cup. I was disgusted. 

I halfway dribbled/spit the liquor back into the mini shot glass with a twisted expression and looked back at the man in charge of the booth. He and my cousins were laughing hysterically at my facial expressions, but I did not find it very funny. 

I looked at the remaining 29 mini shots and various flavors and realized I shouldn’t have paid $30 to make myself potentially throw up. Needless to say, I did get a little drunk, but I did not like it.

March 30, 2021

We left on this day to head back to boring Louisiana to resume our normal lives. I was sad to leave the eventful town, and even more sad to spend a solid 12 hours stuck in a vehicle, but the memories this trip gave me will last me a lifetime. I can’t wait to visit Gatlinburg again, and hopefully with the same people. Maybe I will like Moonshine by then.