Gatlinburg Tournament 2013 Buttons

Gatlinburg Tournament 2013

Day 5 Sunday April 21, 2013

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I woke up early Sunday morning. I had quite a bit of time before I was scheduled to meet Michael for breakfast. I used Google to search for “Windows Live Mail” offline problem. I found this barely intelligible answer:

For some idiot reason MS link IE and WLM Work on/offline settings.

This happened to me after upgrading to IE10 ... hours of frustration later (and I did not select to work offline in IE BTW!).

Despite the Work Online button on this screen in Windows Live Mail, the error can only be fixed ...

So, if the Internet Explorer was set to work offline, Windows Live Mail was incapable of overriding it? What sense did that make? Furthermore, the Internet Explorer was not designated as the default browser on this computer. I hardly ever used it, and I certainly had not launched it since I had sent and received e-mail on the first day that we were in Gatlinburg.

... by changing this setting in the Internet Explorer.

However, I had nothing to lose. I opened up IE, and it was indeed in offline mode. I set it to online, and within a few minutes I got a message that forty-eight e-mail messages had been downloaded. How bizarre was that?

I read all of my e-mails, and, as usual, most of them were spam. I replied to the few that meant anything, and I sent one to Sue telling her about my victory over Microsoft. I experienced an intense sense of relief (more than accomplishment) that I was hard-pressed to explain. It occurred to me that I had never been without e-mail for more than a day or two for at least a decade.

I met Michael at 7:30, and I told him about my experience with the e-mail. He uses his iPhone for e-mail, so he did not evince the appropriate appreciation of my brilliant achievement.

It was cold again in the morning, but by the afternoon it was very nice. Gatlinburg had saved its best weather for the last day.

This was probably the last time that I would ever see a rate of $79.00 on a hotel bill.

We returned to the Log Cabin for breakfast. I could not face any more pancakes. I ordered two eggs over easy with hash browns and sausage. It was quite good. I recommend the Log Cabin for a good cheap breakfast, but I would stay away from the omelets unless you really like sweet American cheese. Everything else that I had there was delicious and inexpensive. However, they desperately need to get a Michigan flag to hang from the ceiling. This one would look very nice.

The Glenstone Lodge was definitely a bargain ...

We checked out of the hotel and left our luggage at the front desk. I was surprised to see that there was only one other bag there. I knew that many of the people in the hotel were not bridge players, and I knew that most of the attendees were within driving distance, but I still thought that what we were doing was rather common.

Pat and Bob did not play on Sunday. They were driving to Charlotte. From there Bob was scheduled to fly to Hartford by way of Detroit. That must have made for a long day.

... even if you never used the spectacular indoor pools.

Michael and I played in the side game again. In the first round we were matched up against a guy named Jed (“barely kept his family fed”) and his wife. They had been playing in the 299ers for the last few days.

In the third or fourth round we played against a pair of guys who conversed extensively in a foreign language. I recognized a few words of Russian in their conversation. After the game one of them said “Good luck!” to us in English, and I responded with the Russian word for “Thank you.” He did a double-take, and then he smiled back at me.

I never saw Jeff Mecstroth at the bridge table.

I went to the men’s room at one point, and on the way back I saw the great Jeff Meckstroth, who at the time had more masterpoints than anyone living or dead. A few years earlier Steve Smith and I had sat three rows behind him on the flight from Reno to Las Vegas. Unless my eyes deceived me, he had put on quite a few pounds in the interim, and no one considered him svelte back then. Michael, who sat North and therefore got to see our opponents’ names on the handheld scoring devices, later told me that we had played against Jeff’s wife. She was much slimmer and better looking than her famous husband.

We racked up a 51.06% game, which was just barely good enough for first in C. The second place team was Jed and his wife. It later occurred to me that there must be a pair of $2 bills somewhere in Tennessee that rightfully belonged to me and Michael.

The tournament provided everyone who played the morning session, even those who were not staying for the afternoon session, with lunch tickets. We got in line for our free lunch, which consisted of a chicken salad or egg salad sandwich, a small bag of chips, and a drink. I was still hungry, so I bought another bag of chips.

Our last view of the welcoming sign.

We had a couple of hours to kill before we had to meet our cab back at the hotel, so we took another stroll around Gatlinburg. This time we sauntered down past the aquarium up to the point when the retail started to thin out. Near the aquarium was a stream in which a man was fly-fishing. Only fifty feet or so upstream of him was gathered a brace of ducks. Their attention focused on a machine in the parking lot from which tourists could purchase food for them and for the fish. I doubted that this hungry horde would leave much for their finned and gilled competition. Michael wanted to buy some food for them, but I was not interested.

On our way back to the hotel I felt the call of nature, and we stopped at one of the many public restrooms. I would not rate this one as clean, safe, or even totally functional, but at least it was convenient.

We next stopped at McDonald’s so that Michael could sate his craving for ice cream. It was at least thirty degrees too cold for me even to consider eating ice cream.

On the last leg of our journey I remarked to Michael about the hucksters who were employed by a few of the restaurants and tourist traps to entice people to enter their establishments. I guess that touristy places elsewhere use hucksters, but I could not recall seeing so many of them concentrated in such a small area anywhere else.

We walked up to the hotel, retrieved our luggage from the room behind the front desk, and seated ourselves in the lobby to wait for our taxi driver. He arrived a few minutes early, and we noticed the cab with the flamingo-colored lettering parked outside the door. The driver was standing beside the vehicle smoking a cigarette. He was younger than James Shepard and was much less loquacious. We loaded his vehicle with our luggage and headed for McGhee-Tyson Airport.

The route that he chose bypassed Pigeon Forge entirely. Instead it parallelled a very sinuous stream for at least half of the distance to the airport. Anglers were posted every eighth of a mile or so along the stream. I did not see anyone catch anything.

Every so often along the side of the road we passed small paved areas where one could pull one’s car over. Most of these were occupied by the cars of fishermen or picnickers, but at one point our driver, whose name I did not catch, stopped in one to allow two very impatient cars to pass. He was certainly not driving too slowly; I just think that the drivers of the other vehicles had seen too much NASCAR, or maybe they were running ‘shine.

We emerged from the woods onto a terrain of rolling hills and ma and pa hotels, campsites, and restaurants. To me it seemed like something out of my youth in the fifties. Then we reached the edge of Maryville and the familiar environs of the Lamar Alexander Parkway, and before we knew it we were at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

We retrieved our luggage, paid the driver, and started to walk inside when we were greeted by a very unusual sight. A rather chubby young woman facing the opposite direction was bending at the waist to pick up a suitcase. Her low-riding jeans rode WAY too low and gave us a view of her thong and the butt-crack that it did a poor job of concealing. It was not at all sexy; in fact it almost put us off of our feed.

Ruby Tuesdays at the McGhee-Tyson airport.

We checked in at Delta and went through security without any difficulty. Michael wanted to eat supper at Ruby Tuesday’s rather than to take our chances in Atlanta. I ordered a chicken pesto sandwich; he chose a hamburger and a salad; we both had steamed broccoli. The sandwich had too much mayonnaise on it for my taste, but, then again, any mayonnaise would have been too much IMHO.

I logged onto the airport’s free Internet and was surprised to find in my Inbos a message with a link to my personal results in the pairs events at the tournament. Goodness! Was the tournament even over yet?

A large percentage of the passengers on the plane to Atlanta were young men from the University of San Diego rowing team. Next to me was a gentleman who was flying to Brazil, or at least that is what he told whoever was on the other end of his phone call. The man in front of him told the USD rower seated in front of me that he was on his way to Rio de Janeiro.

The mess on the floor at the Atlanta airport.

The flight was uneventful. We arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta and took the train to the B terminal that housed our gate. We had to wait for an hour or so. Ordinarily the noise level and the hubbub at this airport bothered me a great deal, but for some reason it did not seem so bad. I bought a large coke and patiently watched people avoid (or not) the two big messes in the middle of the hallway outside our gate. Eventually they were cleaned up.

The flight was full, and I had no way of stretching my leg. I wished that I had bought a neck pillow to use on the flight. I balled up my jacket and used it as a pillow. It was better than nothing, but I was still uncomfortable. I listened to Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro on my iPod nano. It was in the middle of my favorite part, the twenty-two minute (!) finale of the second act when they made us switch off electronic devices for the approach to Bradley.

Do not let anyone tell you that I do not have a cell phone, or I do not know how to use it.

As soon as we touched down, I used my cell phone to call Sue. She had not left the house yet. Oh, well, it would take a while to get off the plane and locate my luggage.

When I was finally able to stand up, I was a little dismayed at the pain in my right hip. I was pretty certain that this was due to the chronic tendonitis of my IT band, but this was more acute than I was used to. I stretched as soon as I reached the terminal, but it still hurt. I limped my way to baggage claim.

I said goodbye to Michael and went outside to wait for Sue. She arrived within five or ten minutes. By this point my hip was quite painful.

We drove back to our house in Enfield. The garage and entryway were still there; evidently the demolition permit from the town had not yet been approved.

It took Giacomo no more than five minutes to realize that I was home. He appeared out of nowhere at the foot of the bed to demand a back rub. I complied, but I begged off of the full-body massage that he usually requires so that I could get a little sleep. It was hard to believe, but I was scheduled to fly to Houston on the following evening.

Reflections: I came away from this trip with mixed feelings. On the positive side:

On the other hand:

I learned that I was getting too old to keep such a rugged schedule.

[1]  They ended up winning the event.

[2]  The percentage of the population that we encountered in Gatlinburg who smoked was much higher than I had seen elsewhere in the United States. Maybe the word that it is addictive, smelly, and causes cancer and emphysema had not yet reached the hills of Tennessee.

[3]  In fact, a trace of it still lingered two weeks later when I composed this.