Christmas Cruise ~ Bristol TN
December 2-4, 2016
Decked out in Christmas cheer attire, one silver XLR (the Penfields) and one Pearl White Allante’ (the Vopelaks) departed the Atlanta area on country roads to Waynesville, NC for lunch at the Sweet Onion. After a little retail therapy in Waynesville, we left for Johnson City, TN (weekend headquarters for our Bristol Motor Speedway Pinnacle in Lights event). The remaining Allante’ Atlanta members decided to meet us at The Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City, TN later in the day either driving separately or flying in from Atlanta and Florida. Members Jim and Karen Lane (Tellico Village, TN), Larry Johnson and Sari Alder (Monterey, TN), Jim and Sandy Sebastian (Kennesaw, GA), Thomas Boyland (Atlanta, GA), Budd and Darr Neidig (Lake Placid, FL) met us at check-in for the start of our Christmas Lights extravaganza.
After settling in, we all rushed to Thomas’ suite for a short gathering. Thomas had negotiated an upgrade to an executive two-room suite, including a fully-appointed bar for his weekend in The Carnegie. His suite was our hospitality room for the weekend for obvious reasons (the bar, the spacious room, etc.) Shortly, we met in the parking lot to discuss who was driving what—Jim and Sandy drove the Impala SS (Russ and Paula hooked a ride with them); Budd and Darr and Thomas in a rental car; Jim and Karen drove their Allante’ as did Larry and Sari. We left for the Bristol Motor Speedway Pinnacle in Lights with GPS and written directions; entered the Speedway, turned our headlights off and parking lights on and started oohing and wowing at the lights before us. We navigated through illuminations of toy soldiers, sleighs and reindeer, Santa himself, snowmen, angels and the ever-popular Twelve Days of Christmas. We saw dinosaurs, and a drag racer beating us each time, NASCAR driver cars—all illuminated amid Christmas Carols and holiday music. As we neared the end of our drive…. what did we see over the crest of the embankment…? but the Bristol Speedway! With a Corvette engine growling in the Impala SS, we zipped quickly around the .533-mile race track to our exit and back to “refreshments” and dinner at the Carnegie.
Saturday morning, we headed to Elizabethton, TN to discover Tennessee’s historic covered bridge and village. The 134-foot covered bridge was built in 1882 over the Doe River to connect the Village. We walked the bridge, photographed our cars at the entrance and in the front yard of an historic and beautifully-decorated antebellum mansion. We toured the many antique and oddly curious shops in the Village. We then drove a short country road distance to the FIVE-STAR RATED BARBECUE restaurant, the Ridgewood, in Bluff City for lunch. The place isn’t fancy but its comfy and has “gooooooood “food.
Around 5:30 pm we gathered in the AACC Hospitality Suite for libations, lies, storytelling and the toughest Christmas Trivia contest we all antagonized over. The Trivia contest is a tradition with our group—Jim Sebastian gets giddy over creating a Trivia game to amuse and befuddle us at our larger cruises. No one ever gets 100% but we try!
Dinner that evening was at the Peerless Restaurant, an excellent choice per our resident Foodie, Norman Penfield. A few of us used the hotel shuttle to get us to the restaurant (for obvious reasons) and Uber for return. The food was grand and the company wonderful. The next morning after breakfast and a short rehash of the more amusing moments, we left for home…. some flying, some driving. But all having a grand AACC Christmas Cruise weekend!
See you soon!
Paula Vopelak - Vice President