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The most over-planned trip I've even taken...
Oh, where to begin...
Aside from being able to put up with each other for so long, I think there's no questioning the claim that Spring Break '96 was the single greatest accomplishment for Prout Table.
It all started about a year in advance. One day at the lunch table, we decided that we should "do something big" for Spring Break. After some discussion (or maybe a few days--who really remembers?), Kacky came up with an idea. Some of our classmates had spent the previous spring break in a cabin in Tennessee. We found out that they had rented it from a company called Mountain Valley Properties and that they had nothing but positive things to say about them.
With that information in hand, we began the long and drawn-out process of planning our spring break.
To make a really long story significantly shorter, I'll just say that we spent far too much time planning, discussion, and speculating about the trip before it happened. Believe me, it was overkill! We even got to the point of drafting some rules for spring break (just read 'em, and don't ask--really).
Then several months passed...
Eventually, the Spring Break 1996 was upon us. We all gathered on that fateful (Saturday?) morning to begin the long trip to the mountains of Tennessee. If memory serves, four vehicles caravanned (is that a word) down to Wapokenta, Ohio where we picked up the fifth vehicle--the Schaubmobile.
For entertainment along the way, we had a fair selection of electronic gadgets (that's the nature of our group): CD players, walkie-talkies, and even a camcorder. As a matter of fact, Brandt video taped about 30 minutes of the trip down there, and it is quite amusing to watch. Unfortunately, I ran out of time or I'd have converted many of the more amusing bits into QuickTime movies so they'd be viewable in this project.
After hours and hours of driving, we eventually made it to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee just after sunset. We stopped briefly to check-in with the fine folks as Mountain Valley Properties and get directions. Moments later, we were back on the long and winding roads into the mountains in search of "Them Thar Hills" (the name of the cabin we rented).
Eventually, we made it to the "front gate" of the area which contained "Them Thar Hills" and all the other rental properties. The only reason I bring this up is because we met the guard at the gate who had to let us in. The guard can only be described as a "Bubba." Our entire group, weary from hours of travel, took great pride in realizing that we'd never have to ask his name.
Let's see... The only other amusing thing about that first night (in retrospect, at least) had to do with the fact that our cabin was situated at the top of a fairly steep hill. Not surprisingly, the driveway leading up to the cabin was a bit steeper than your average suburban driveway. In all honestly, is was really damned steep! Worse yet, it had a hairpin turn about 2/3 of the way up the hill and it was pitch black outside by the time we found the place.
Seeing as how the van (which I was driving--thanks Mom & Dad) was the lead vehicle for most of the voyage, I had the privilege of being the first one to attempt going up the driveway (or "the hill" as it came to be known).
I won't go into all the gory details, but let's just say that the van did not make it up the hill on the first try or the second try. As a matter of fact, it only made it up the hill after we unloaded most of the cargo and people and Justin kept the peddle to the floor the whole way up. You see, after the first two failed attempts, I was a bit skeptical about getting the van up the hill and Justin has a slightly different philosophy about how it needed to be done. Needless to say, he was right.
Wow, this is turning into a book. I'll try to just hit the highlights.
Among the more memorable items from our spring break trip is our mascot, "Balto," the dog that managed to find us and hand out for quite a while. We still have no idea where he came from, but he sure seemed to enjoy being with us for a while.
If nothing else, we made sure that nobody was gonna starve over break. We brought lots of good food and ate really well every morning and evenings (yeah, lunches were left up to each individual). On one particular evening, Brandt, Aaron, and I played the manly role of grilling chef. Of course, the ritual if lighting the grill was captured on video tape for all to enjoy. (I'm still surprised we didn't scorch the roof.) This very evening produced a new slang reference for Prout Table: "Eating Steak"
The one thing that I think everyone will remember about our Spring Break trip is the wonderful scenery out "outdoorsy" feel to it all. I personally was glad we decided to rent a cabin in a fairly deserted but beautiful area of the country instead of going to Florida, Myrtle Beach, or something like that.
On one occasion, a group of people decided to take a trip into one of the nearby parks to go hiking, eat lunch and such. For some reason, I decided not to go with them, but I was quite impressed with the pictures and descriptions of what they saw.
Another memory I have of Spring Break is of an astronomical wonder that had perfect timing for us. During the week that we stayed at Them Thar Hills, comet Hyakutake was at its brightest. Since we had a few astronomy-geek-wannabes with us, we spent a considerable amount of time gazing at he comet and attempting to photograph it without a cable release. (Mental note: Next time, bring cable release.)
Looking back over our Spring Break adventure, I'm kind of wishing that we could have done it a year earlier just so we could have had a sequel trip the following year. I think that both trips would have been very enjoyable.
We learned a lot about each other during the five days or so that we spent together. Whether were were chatting in the hot tub, hanging out on the balcony, playing Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble, making dinner, or just hanging out, I think it's safe to say we were all happy to be there. We enjoyed being with each other, talking about whatever we wanted, and not having to worry about all the stuff waiting for us back at school.
Ah... There's so much more that could be written about our Spring Break trip. Unless I get really ambitious, much of the memories will have to be content living in our collective minds and hearts, 'cause putting it all on-line would be quite the undertaking.
Oh, one last note for anyone who might be considering a trip like this in the future: do not bring several hundred compact discs. You will never have time to listen to more than good handful, unless you spend you whole break listening to music.
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Updated: April 25th, 1997