Monday, April 22, 2013

Tennessee Weekend - Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountains

Our friends Eddie and Anna came up with the idea to leave Knoxville on Saturday and take us on a little tour of Tennessee. After the race expo we hit the road with three destinations planned: Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The drive to Gatlinburg took us through the greater Pigeon Forge area. The town is famous nationally for being the home of Dollywood - Dolly Parton's theme park. On a regional level it's also famous for pancakes, go-karts, min golf, and knives. The National Knife Museum is in the greater Pigeon Forge area. Who knew?

Dave was intrigued by a couple of billboards along the road advertising The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show. The ads made it look like total hillbilly cheese. Now since we were traveling with people whom held the name McCoy, we had to stop. The showplace was sandwiched between WonderWorks (a playplace/museum housed in a upside down mansion) and the Titanic (a museum shaped like the ship complete with iceberg).
When we started looking around we assumed this was a former Disney Imagineer's brainchild. The themeing was quite good and the props didn't look too cheap. Plus, you've got to love restaurants with penned up livestock out front. In well-themed pens they had chickens, pigs, and goats. When we checked-in on Facebook a friend of ours replied back stating the show and food were actually pretty good. With all the pro-and-con McCoy props we spent a good amount of time taking photos.
Traffic was heavy getting into Gatlinburg. There's not too many places to expand the roads because of the river that runs through town. Parking is also at a premium in G'burg. Overall Gatlinburg is an expanded tourist area of Pigeon Forge. There were some chain restaurants, mini golf courses, arcades, and a variety of shops.
We started out with lunch at Smoky Mountain Brewery. Eddie and Dave found samplers were a good deal - 6 5oz samplers for $6. Each beer was sorta a mellowed version of the style it represented - still pretty good. The food was good too.
Our next target attraction was Ole Smokey Moonshine. As a tourist you first learn about Ole Smokey the minute you get on the highway leaving Knoxville. Billboards seemed to be at every 1/2 mile mark along the drive. They had a nice complex with a center court stage where a blue grass band was playing. They had displays on the making of moonshine process and the history. Inside the main store you could sample any or all of their items - we'd estimate 10-12 items from 100 proof vodka to lemon, cherry, grape flavored moonshine. Dave likes his straight liquors, but not this stuff. It's just clear and unrefined. Costs for mason jar-sized bottles ranged $25 - $35. They were doing ok.

We left town and started driving into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Alot of our drive followed a swiftly moving river and every so often we passed a waterfall off the side of the road. Our main destination within the park was an area called Cades Cove. This is a very pretty valley where some early settlement building were still intact. Deer and turkey were hanging out in the open, not paying any attention to hikers or cars.
Back to Knoxville for dinner at a Puleo's Grille location and then bed. The next day was race day.

1 comment:

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