Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A Little Side Trip

On our tour of Nashville, we took a little side trip to Gatlinburg. Of course "little" is a relevant term when compared to the 18-hour days (isn't there an 18-hour bra? 18 hours of almost everything is too much) of driving we had been doing; this trip was about 4 1/2 hours. Plus a brake repair day.

Anyway. If you ever have a chance to go to Gatlinburg, do it. It is beautiful. It's right at the entrance to the Smoky Mountains and is absolutely gorgeous!! However, not everything there is super great so I will tell you what you can miss and what you should see.

Pigeon Forge.
Pigeon Forge is the town you come to before Gatlinburg when you're coming from Nashville. Pigeon Forge is like a miniature Orlando. The highway is lined with tourist "attractions." There is the Dixie Stampede, a wax museum, Ripley's, more mini golf courses than I could count, and a bunch of themed restaurants. The only thing I want to visit the next time I go is the Comedy Barn. According to their signs they have a talking dog and a pig that can read your mind. I hope that pig likes thinking about bacon.

Dollywood is also in Pigeon Forge. Yes, as in that Dolly. It's an amusement park named after Dolly Parton. I have wanted to go here since it first opened. I grew up with parents that listened to her and I've passed on her legacy with "Jolene" to D. The first R-rated movie I ever saw was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. A very wholesome movie, for sure.

Anyway. The moral of the story is don't go to Dollywood. It's a very sad place. It's like once it was opened it was just abandoned. There are very few rides but plenty of restaurants. And shopping. If you like trucker hats and gaudy women's clothing and cheesy souvenirs. We dubbed it Dollywalmart because of the crap for sale and the other visitors. Toothless, obscenely overweight, and dirty, noisy little kids. Not to mention everyone that works there is over 65. Poor old senior citizens cleaning up after 250-pound 8-year-olds. Sad. Just don't go here.

After you drive through Pigeon Forge, you come to a sign that says "Welcome to Gatlinburg" and you are immediately driving along the most gorgeous tree-covered road in the state. Possibly the country, but I didn't see enough to know that for sure.

Our hotel backed up to a pretty little stream. If we didn't think our room would turn into a sauna at night, we would have left the windows open to enjoy the sound. Our room came complete with a ladybug and peeking raccoon. We caught him trying to get into the trash can next to the vending machines. The cicadas completed our nature's soundtrack.

Downtown Gatlinburg is full of shops and tourist traps and restaurants. We spent hours there shopping and eating and whiskey-tasting. Whiskey tasting is free. And hilarious because they serve it in those tiny little cups that you get grape juice in during communion. So it's sort of sacrilegious and I think that's funny. Anyway, there are two main places to go. Ole Smoky Moonshine advertises the most, but I think Davy Crockett's is better. Still, I got two bottles each from both places. Apple pie, southern pecan, and chocolate. Don't ask me to share.

I absolutely cannot wait to go back and explore the park and the mountains and everything that doesn't have a neon sign on it. Except for the Comedy Barn. That pig will squeal when he reads my mind!!


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