The sound is stark, pulsating through my dreams and the surrounding darkness, blasting me into alertness - it was only 6 a.m., we're in a hotel room in the Smoky Mountains for a few days of hiking, and I am sorely confused. Why in the heck is a bedside alarm going off? I squinted and felt around in the dark for the alarm's off switch, and I'm now wide-awake. It's impossible to go back to sleep.
I suppose the previous hotel room guest accidentally set that alarm for us . . . not the kind of surprise one really desires on vacation, in my opinion.
Though, it gave us an early start on our fun. We had a full first day in the mountains, enjoying a strenuous hike along waterfalls and taking in so many beautiful overlooks. We saw a bear! We saw elk! Yes, we are enjoying ourselves with a few days in delightful nature of Tennessee, followed by visits with family in Georgia.
"By the way - wasn't that the worst, that early morning alarm?!" we complained, as we settled into bed that night. I double-checked that the alarm was off. Very quickly, we were both sound asleep.
Early the next morning, once again, I am awake much too early, struggling awake, surprised awake - this time, hearing some sort of muttering? a man's voice? complaining? drunk? angry? oh yes ANGRY! There's banging on the door, relentless banging. Wait, where am I? What time is it? I look at the clock 5:58am. This time, a human alarm. I'm sorely confused, but someone's words break through, someone in the hall -
OPEN UP THE DOOR NOW!
I hear the static of a walkie-talkie or radio or something, and rushing of footsteps in the hall.
I jump up and run to the door and look out the peep hole, and see two Sheriff's deputies running past my hotel room door to a room diagonally across the hall. One stops directly in front of our room, I can read the letters emblazoned on his back - S H E R I F F. I freeze in place. Moments later, two pajama-clad guests run past my door, away from the police presence. The deputy at my door points for them to go down the hall. Who are they? Moved from a neighboring room? Evacuated? Family members? What's going on?
A sheriff's deputy bellows:
WE'D LIKE TO RESOLVE THIS PEACEFULLY!
OPEN UP THIS DOOR!
I jump back in bed with Tony. What should we do? Do we need to hide? What in the world? We wait in suspense.
What follows are some very short, intense negotiations with whomever has drawn their attention; I hear a man say "Leave me alone, I'm not doing anything. I just want to be alone."
Sheriff's deputy - "Open up the door and let us talk to you, and then that can be. We need to see you."
In just a few agonizing minutes, it is resolved peacefully - I hear the nearby door unlock; the man opens up the door. He talks a bit with the deputies. He is not detained or arrested. I hear movement in the hall again, take one more peek through the peep hole, and see some six deputies walk past my room, calmly exiting the hotel. "At least we didn't have to chase someone in their underwear in the woods," one comments.
Yes, once again, we've been woken up in the early morning; this time, we're both shaken by what could have transpired and thankfully did not. What a horrible way to wake up, and really scary.
Who knows what that disturbance was even about?
I am reminded how hard this world is for so many, how troubled some lives are.
That early morning alarm of the day before,
that nuisance that I thought was THE WORST -
ha, no big deal in retrospect.
Life is precious. Be well, everyone!
Let me close with some natural beauty from the Smoky Mountains!
It's Tuesday and I am participating in the