Wednesday, January 30, 2013

4 pigeon forge

Hey Gang

We planned things right. Yesterday sunny and warm we stayed outdoors, today rain n more rain and much cooler we did indoor things.

The first place we went was Christ in the Smokies museum formerly Christus Gardens. Dad took the family here the first time in the 60's which I barely remembered, then again on another family vacation in the 70's. So I wanted to see it to relive some memories and for Ruth who has never seen it.

It is almost the same lay out but when Christus Gardens closed about 15 years ago, they auctioned off all the figures to a bible museum in Florida. So the figures are all new, some other changes but mostly the same. The scenes are narrated and as one scene ends a door opens that leads you to the next. Excellent.

After that I thought we should walk rather than pay for parking. I thought it was a good idea even if it was pouring, Ruth not so. She waited in the rock/gem store while I got the car. I thought she wanted to buy some rocks to throw at me but got some nice necklaces instead.

As I said we planned the day right. Dinner was planned for 6:30 not midnight. After asking around and some online search I came up with the same conclusion - Bennett's or Mamas Farm House restaurant, both locally owned. We decided on Bennett's. And what do you know.... in the lobby there were advertisements for Alamo's Steak House. I asked the waitress is this affiliated with Alamo's? Sure is. Then I find out so is Mama's Farm House along with a couple of pizza places. All that researching I still ate at a corporation. Pigeon Forge is so saturated, actually the whole area, there are 2 Cracker Barrels, 2 Bennett's just to name some of the duplicate restaurants in a close vicinity. The food was OK but pricey and not a lot of side dishes, potato and one other.

From there we went souvenir shopping, and one more museum, The Hollywood Wax Museum. We both enjoyed this. They let you take as many photos as you like and get as close as you like as long as you don't touch. I am lost in time and not up much on the current crop of actors. Some of the mannequins looked just like store mannequins at a Sears or Penney's, I had no clue who they were. But Clooney, Stalone and some of the other older actors I recognized. Terrific museum.

Then it was back to the condo for packing up and here we sit....

Gotta GoGo!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

3 Pigeon Forge

Hey Gang,

Well the day was BEAUTIFUL! Sunny and a high of 69. WOW!

After a coughing choking spell that was so bad I threw out my back because Ruth burned the oil on the stove we headed out with me walking like a crippled Geisha woman. Had to bring it up.

My plans I laid out was as such, head to Clingmans Dome, the highest point east of the Rockies and from there continue through the Smokies onto N.C. to see the Cherokee reservation. Unfortunately the plans were for naught. The road to Clingmans Dome is always closed for the winter months and the road to N.C. was closed because the road gave way.

The lady at the Welcome Center suggested I still head to Newfound Gap, turn around at the road closed sign and then back track to Cades Cove. What a plan. It all worked out.

At the bottom where we started in Gatlinburg the temp was 69, when we reached an elevation of 5,500 at Newfound Gap it dropped to 50, cloudy and windy. Because its January and there are no leaves the view was even better. Nothing to block your vision. It was such an awesome view I could of spent all day just gazing.

We hopped back into the car and stopped every so often, every turn the view was almost beyond words. Since it gets dark early and we had limited time I decided to see what the Impala could do. It did well. Curves marked at 20 with warning, 40 plus no problem. Ruth handled it well only two yelps and 30 signs of the cross - kidding there. She did get a bit queasy though. I don't recommend this and do remember its the off season so I had most of the road to myself. I always like to put a disclaimer makes me sleep better at night.

We stopped off at an IGA in Townsend for lunch and then headed to Cades Cove. This is a must see for everyone. A hidden gem. Its marked on the maps as a point of interest but I don't remember ever hearing anyone talk about it. It is a scenic loop of about 11 plus miles, scenic doesn't do it is justice. Again, we hit the park at the right season, hardly anyone around, and the right time at dusk with all the wild life coming out to feed.

There are open plains and in each plain were herds of deer. Now the really fascinating part was a man with a camera went almost up to the deer, some with huge antlers taking photos. The deer didn't spook at all. We drive on a bit and a car is pulled off the road. In the field was a father and mother with their little child going up to the deer. Again only a few feet from them. I never seen this before. That was impressive.

A rafter of turkeys crossed the road in front of us, had to look up that word, I didn't know what to call a herd of turkeys.

I even had to stop the car numerous times to allow frogs to cross the road. In spots they were swarming.

Besides the wildlife Cades Cove has primitive structures along the way. Churches from the 1820's, cabins, barns. All had the door open. We went inside a few. One we entered was at dark that was spooky. I heard something inside so that was the end of the exploring.

I was amazed that the restrooms were clean and left opened and the primitive structures. This wouldn't be up north.

From there we headed back. For once I was on the right road but thought I think I am going the wrong way so turned around and did go the wrong way only to have to turn around 8 miles later to go back the way I was going. Follow that?

Then it started the food fiasco. I opened the computer and started calling what sounded like independent owned restaurants. Everything around here closes at 8 except a few chains and the fast food. So we drove around until Ruth said its 11 pm lets eat. I gave her the option of a Mexican place or Food Court. She chose Food Court thinking it was a food court not a super market. Poor Ruth.

We didn't eat till about midnight but our home cooked meal sure beats the corporate chains.

Gotta GoGo!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 2 Pigeon Forge

Hey Gang,


The good. Today was balmy compared to what we've been having in Cleveland. The temps were high 50's and sun. We slept in but still had plenty of time to enjoy the sun and outdoors. Just a terrific day all in all.

We went into Gatlinburg and yes that to is now a corporate zoo. Little to compare to what I remember it like. Gone is the Tennessee flavor.

I got brave and bought us tickets to the tram to Ober Gatlinburg. It is an cable tram and at the highest point is 300 feet above ground and about a 2 mile ride. Well worth it. The view is spectacular and the ride swings and shakes a bit. Nice.
After that we walked Gatlinburg and browsed the shops then hurried back to our villa for a short break so we could hurry back to Gatlinburg for a steak dinner. I did all that hurrying for nothing as the place I lined up closed early so we went to another steak house and the same there. Even though this area is mobbed for January it is still the off season so places close early. So I thought we would venture back to Pigeon Forge and find a place for dinner. Here we go again!

How many times have you heard me complain about the take over of corporate America? We drove around for 2 hours and gave up. Taco Bell, Texas Road House, Denny's and so on. Every few miles they repeated the corporate order. So Kroger's was our dinner option, We bought chicken and cooked in the condo.
I hate this place. Its fun when you first arrive but what good is travelin when you eat or see the same things from back home?

When we wake we are outta here and heading to the mountains. Clingmans Dome and beyond...


Gotta GoGo!!

We arrived - Pigeon Forge

Hey Gang,

Well I am here in Pigeon Forge.

Ruth and I left about 9:15 am Sunday. Stopped outside of Columbus in a town called Jamestown. What a waste of time that was. Jamestown was a ways of the freeway and our breakfast at the Phoenix was eh average at best, the size of breakfast was eh I say below average and the price was average to above.

It was the only place in town to eat. All of the customers or patrons all looked the same shade of white, everyone was friendly to each other and knew most by first names but Ruth and I were hardly talked to by our waitress or anyone. That breakfast cost us 2 hours.

We got back on the road and stopped twice more for gas and snacks. Made it into Pigeon Forge about 7, not bad.

The car we rented was a Chevy Impala. I am glad Enterprise booked the car I ordered, I ordered a econo car but they were out so at no extra charge they upgraded us and extended the rental for 2 more days. They treat you right.

The Impala handled a bit bouncy for a supposed larger car in today's world, small by my standards of what I remember of the past. I drove 80 plus the whole way. Car handled fine and I got use to it quite quick.

Pigeon Forge wow has it changed and lost its identity. Dad was complaining when we came here in the 70's how it was being ruined from Tennessee wilderness, hill billy, down home quaintness to commercialism. He took the family to the Smokies in the mid 60's so remembered how it was. In the 80's and 90's the last time I came it grown even more. Now it looks like a mini Vegas or a large Niagara. Stores upon stores, museums, eateries, flashing lights, neon. And yes most corporate. It is Winter fest here which is neat, it still looks like Christmas with all the displays set up but the weather makes it look odd, its mild mid-40s.

We ate a Japanese/Chinese restaurant buffet. Wonderful cheap meal, $7.50 per person with so much good food. Still it was strange that we didn't eat a place with country ham, grits and such. Times have a changed.

Gotta GoGo!!