Back in the day, one of our favorite family journeys included touring the
Great Smoky Mountains and the surrounding areas; it was during one of our
spring excursions that we stumbled upon a place called Thunderbird Mountain
Resort. It was situated on a beautiful expanse of shimmering lake water and
located near Fontana Village Resort and the Fontana Dam. These were the
days of two-lane highways, and many campgrounds still had dirt and gravel
My parents were so impressed by the beautiful vista and the quiet
surroundings that they made reservations for our family to return during the
early summer for a few more intervals of relaxation. What Brother David and
I had not expected in the beginning was the accommodation was a complete
house, instead of a motel suite, and that daddy would rent a motorized
fishing boat and tie it to our private dock.
For days we enjoyed boating around the lake and while the guys tried to hook
the big one, momma and I frequently lounged on the boat dock and perused
through fashion magazines. One day we ventured over to Fontana Village and
checked out their fishing contest, only to discover that the fish were
brought in for the occasion, having been raised in another location just so
vacationers could pretend they were sport-fishing. Upon close inspection we
discovered that the various fees and permits required made the investment
too costly even for our leisure account.
There were only a few restaurants near the resort but one kindly couple, who
owned a family style, offered to prepare a family night fish-fry if daddy
would provide the fish. The evening was one to remember because they agreed
to join in the fun, and we returned several times over the coming years to
visit and eat with the kind and generous people.
Our summer adventure led to us return during the autumn season when we could
enjoy watching the changing color of the leaves and journey through the area
apple orchards and pumpkin patches. I think we stopped at every roadside
stand and flea-market that we saw advertised and brought home a trunk full
of fresh produce to include root vegetables and assorted greens.
As I remember, the honey was sweeter, the apple cider colder, and the
atmosphere was fresher during the autumn than any other time during the
year. The treasured memories of our family holidays to the mountains
still linger in my mind.