Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Smokies In September: Part 1

Welcome back to the RHFactors blog. This is post 64 of 2017 and 931 over all. 

Just a reminder that you still have a until next Saturday, September 30, to find the answers to my 55K quiz (see my last post) and enter to win a $15 I-Tunes card. Hurry the deadline is coming up soon. I want to give you free music. 

Now onto today's post.   

It's been a couple of weeks since I celebrated my birthday with a weekend getaway to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with my wife. But I'm just now getting around to sharing my experience. 

Now, we have made plenty of trips to that area. Love to vacation there. The last time was in December of last year. You can review that trip in my blog archives.  

For this trip we did a lot of our favorite things but we also did some new things. I am going to share some of both. 

We stayed at our favorite condo resort, Whispering Pines. It's on Ogle Avenue, and sits on a hill above Pigeon Forge's main parkway. It has a beautiful view. 

We stayed in a two bedroom ADA accessible condo for the first time. It was #413 and by far least impressive condo we've stayed in. It's pretty worn and needs a lots of refurbishing and better furniture. If you are ever staying there I'd recommend avoiding this one. 

We still like the comfort and convenience of this resort as well as the attraction discounts they offer; so we'll stay there again, no doubt. 

One of the reasons we stay there is the views, not just the looking down but the one looking up too. Here's a picture of the moon I took the first night we were there.

On the morning of my birthday, September 9th, before we left the condo complex, I made a video. I posted it to You Tube. Here's the link: My Birthday In The Smokies

As I mentioned in the video there was a "Rod Rally" going on while we were there. It effected the way we got around while there. It's hard to explain what this was like; but I'll try. 

People bring their hot rods or classic cars and trucks to Pigeon Forge for the weekend. They parked along the main parkway wherever there was a spot that faces the road. Their cars are on display for all to enjoy. Here's a couple of pictures showing what it looked like as we drove up and down Rt. 441 throughout our stay. 

This influx of both man and machine limited the available parking in front of just about every restaurant, attraction or shopping area in half. 

Several times during our visit, at night, we had to park in the "auxiliary" parking area and walk to the front of where we wanted to go. BTW it wasn't a matter of walking it was the insecurity of parking in the dark dimly lit lots. 

Also, the car owners "parade" their vehicles up and down the parkway so other owners can side on the side of the road and watch them go by. This is done mostly in the right lane. While there are still 2 lanes open, if you have to turn into or out of that right lane you are forced to go with the slow flow.     

On my birthday, we went shopping along the Arts & Crafts loop in Gatlinburg. To get to it you make a left onto Rt. 321. Head up the hill and drive 3 miles or so until you get to Glades Road. Turn left at the Subway and you're on the loop.There are stand alone shops, wedding chapels and, what I call, mini-malls along this road.  
We stopped at this one and ate some lunch at a place we'd been to before. But now had a different name and was under new management. It's now called "Timber Log Cabin Restaurant". 

The owner was very friendly and welcomed us to her place. A woman who came in just as we were sitting down started talking to us. 

She told us she's a 12-year Gatlinburg resident and provided some interesting, mostly one sided, conversation while we were waiting for our order. 

The food was really good. The Philly cheese steak was delicious but the fried seasoned potatoes and onions were amazing. 

The decor of the place is simple. I took this shot of my wife while we were there. 
Having that movie poster behind her, I thought it was kind of cool, given how much of a part it played in our getting together nearly 20 years ago. 

Buying some soap that my wife likes from a specialty shop and a chance to browse through a jewelry store were the reasons for our trek across the street to this mall. 
We spent a few hours on this first part of "The Loop". On our way back to Gatlinburg I had my wife take this video. You'll see what I mean about the multiple different places to stop. A Ride Along Glades Road

For dinner on my birthday we decided to try a new show in the Pigeon Forge area: Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventure dinner show. I will be giving details and sharing pictures in part 2 of this series. 

On Sunday, of my birthday weekend, our son and daughter-in-law, Michael & Heather, came down to spend some time with us. We had a 2 bedroom condo so we invited them. 

Although we were there with our good friends, Mark & Patty back in 2013, this was the first time we'd been with our kids in the Smokies since our son, James got married back in 2009. 

First thing we did together was do some shopping in the Old Mill area. At my insistence we had a picture taken in the gazebo in that's there. 

After The Old Mill, we went to one of our favorite places in the Pigeon Forge area, The Island.  Now I know that I've written about this area before but a couple of things happened for the first time during this visit.

As usual we caught the tram from the parking lot. As we were waiting, I took the opportunity to take another group picture. 
We decided to have dinner at the Margaritaville restaurant. I was happy about this for a couple of reasons. First, we were seated right away and there's usually a wait. 

Second, we were seated in the outside area behind the restaurant right next to the "Five O'clock Somewhere" bar and the Six String performance stage. 
We enjoyed some really good food and got to hear some live music. 

After dinner we walked over to The Island and browsed through the shops as usual. Paula stopped at the essential oils store. I went browsing in the toy store. I found something I'd been wanting for a while. It goes with my bendable Gumby figure. 
 I was quite happy to find this toy. Now the pair of friends are together again. 

The next day, while in an art shop in Gatlinburg, I came across this orange pony again. This time with some friends in a wrap around painting. 
The other thing I was glad to find while shopping at the Island, was something I'd been promising to get for my granddaughter.

In the Big Rock Candy Kitchen store, I found these. They are magnetic metallic stones. 
They are a lot of fun to play with. 

There was one more new thing I did while at The Island that's worth mentioning. 

I have ridden on "The Wheel" several times. It is my favorite thing to do while at The Island. 

Unfortunately, getting on a Ferris wheel is among my wife's greatest fears. So in the past, while I've enjoyed seeing the Pigeon Forge area from 200 feet in the air, Paula has remained with her feet firmly on the ground. 

Well, my ride this time was not a solo one. I had a companion. Heather rode with me. Michael stayed with his mom. Also, for the first time the ride was at night. Check out my video.  Night Riders On The Wheel

So there you have a selection of some of the things I did on my trip to the Smoky Mountains on my birthday weekend. 

Thanks for letting me share them with you. Next time, I'll share a review of the best thing we did during our stay: The Dolly Parton Smoky Mountains Adventure dinner show. See you then. 


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