01:49 25 April 2014 Gatlinburg, Tennessee by GS Jade Barrett, CsbNews correspondent
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“The Beauty of the Mountain is hidden for all those who try to discover it from the top, supposing that, one way or an other, one can reach this place directly. The Beauty of the Mountain reveals only to those who climbed it…” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The home of the World’s largest seven day bridge tournament is not all that easy to travel to. My own journey with Team Dog Anna started on 24 April at 20:45 when we flew the nearly five hours to Atlanta, Georgia from San Diego, California. After the two hour layover that included a visit to the Dog Park at the ATL airport, we took the short hop to Knoxville, TN where we acquired our vehicle to embark on the nearly one hour drive to Gatlinburg, arriving at 10:00.
Anna: Dog Park at the ATL airport
A long travel day after eleven hours at our club.
When one first walks into the Convention Center and makes the quick right turn into the playing area, they typically stop for a moment to take in the staggering view of the nearly six hundred card tables that occupy the space. It is simply overwhelming for an instant. Then the realization dawns that all of these tables, plus more in other rooms will be completely filled with players within the hour.
The population of city of Gatlinburg doubles when the total number souls who will travel from all over the Earth arrive to participate, yet the locale is readily prepared to accept them and more.
Gatlinburg Regional Official Site
The gateway to the Smokey Mountains and the magnificent National Park that borders this quaint town, Gatlinburg is truly beautiful, though the garish nature of the tourist attractions detracts from the same.
The weather is uneven, cool, or even cold at night, the daylight hours often see temperatures in the high 20°s Centigrade (80+ F for our USA readers), with frequent rain showers interspersed with the intense rays of the Sun – and one rarely seems to be rightly dressed for the occasion, be it inside or out of the playing structure.
The playing schedule is also intimidating to the uninitiated, with event times of 9:00, 13:00, 16:45, 19:30 and 23:30, allowing the die hard bridge athlete to choose to compete for up to thirteen hours and 112 deals a day. It is a bridge madman’s paradise.
Only in my youth….and from time to time, now. It is a bridge competition, and I am still a fanatic after all these years. Cannot let everyone just win now, can we?