Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Knoxville, Sevierville,Gatlinburg birthday trip

About a week after we got back from our month in Florida and 2 week cruise in April, I was on the road again.  This time to the Knoxville area with my son and daughter-in-law.  While we were on our cruise, Tim accepted a transfer to the Federal Courthouse in Knoxville.  So on my birthday, I left with them to go house hunting and checking out the area.  I knew it would be beautiful, I've been through Tennessee many times, but had no idea how much fun the area really is!

We did hit a lot of road construction near Nashville.  The highway was even closed a few miles near there.  So we took a bit of a detour through Nashville and found a great restaurant to get some dinner at---Peg Leg Porker
 We figured it must be good with the line waiting to order.
 My pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese were excellent.  The "kids" rubbed ribs and sandwich and sides were also very good--so they told me.

Our 7 hour drive from St. Louis to Knoxville ended up being more like 9 hours with the detour and dinner.  But we still arrived with an hour of daylight so we went straight to 5 houses they wanted to check out.  They have a really neat system where you call a number on the rental sign, you're given a code, then you put that code into the lock box and presto---out comes a key.  We were beginning to think we'd have to continue looking the next day.  None of the first 4 they thought they were interested in turned out to be acceptable to them.  5th one was the charm.  Great layout for their furniture, great privacy fence for the pup, beautiful country area,... .

 even a garden area across the street.
With a house picked, we headed into Knoxville to see where Tim would be working.
It was a beautiful evening, so we decided to walk around.  Here is the courthouse.
 Entrance to the court yard in the courthouse.
 a couple blocks away is this cute little city park.
 A sculpture in the park
 more sculptures
 There's also a pedestrian area with lots of restaurants just past the park.
 an alley near by
 Then we walked down the main street ---Gay Street, as I recall.  Lots more shops and restaurants.
 into the theatre district.
 Map of the town (city)
 another interesting sculpture along our walk.
 back side of the court house.
We continued on from there to our base for the next 4 nights---the Wyndham at the Great Smokey Mountains in Sevierville.  With our VIP status, I was able to get a 2 bedroom deluxe for half the points of a one bedroom unit.  We were very comfortable here.  It was about 50 minutes from the house they're renting, but it's close to Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smokey Mountains.
My room.
 the kitchen
 living room
 master bedroom
Next day we headed down the "strip" to find breakfast.  Tim had said the area was like if Las Vegas and Branson had a baby.  He was pretty right!
Upside down buildings--------
 lots and lots of dinner theatres---
 Titanic exhibit?
 Dixie Stampede----------
 strange vehicles----------
 arcades and amusement rides---------
 even a Moon Pie store-------Yes, we did go in here and get some Moon Pies.
 Finally came to Log Cabin Pancake House and had a great breakfast.
 then we continued on the main road towards Gatlinburg.
 More statues----------
 Then we turned off towards the Artists District.
 Stopped to tour a Salt and Pepper museum.
 It was closed still so we went into a jelly store and bought some jellies.  Where else can you find Moonshine Jelly?!
 Lots more jellies.
 Then on down the road to the Arts District and wandered around this village for awhile.

 some of the local residents there.

 continued on down the road and back to the main drag.
 Finally made it back to the Salt and Pepper Museum.  It was open then and we wandered through it. 
it was well organized
 one of my favs
 just a few more of the thousands of shakers here.  It was $3 to enter, but it was interesting.
Back on the main road, I marvelled at more of the stores and restaurants as we drove through Gatlinburg on our way to Smokey Mountain National Forest.
 a distillery we'd check out later.
 a great ice cream shop
 the main drag

 a ski lift in Gatlinburg.
 Mellow Mushroom---great pizza!

 another sky lift
On into the Smokey Mountains National Park
 beautiful ride along the river
 distant view of the mountains with the smokey haze.
 more of the river

 here is where 2 rivers come together.
 now the river is flowing the opposite direction
 apparently it's a Tennessee tradition to honk your horn in a tunnel.  Must not have been any Tennesseans near us by any of the tunnels.
 We drove about an hour into the forest until we came to Cades Cove Scenic Loop.  Would have loved to drive this loop, but we were told it could take hours with people stopping to view all the wildlife.  I talked to someone in our resort pool that night who said they did the Loop and saw a bear as well as lots of deer and elk. 
 Near the start of the Loop.  A couple mornings a week they close the Loop to car traffic and let pedestrians and bikers ride the loop.  Bet that's a gorgeous ride!
 wild flowers along the road.
 By Cades Cove is a huge pic nic area complete with a river running through it.  Too bad we didn't have a pic nic lunch with us.
 back along the river.
Back in Gatlinburg we parked the car and walked the main road.  Bet this would have been an interesting theater.
 Haven't seen a Bubba Gumps in quite awhile.
 Tim was explaining how a lot of beach lovers have Salt Life stickers on their cars now.  Here there are Shine Life stickers!
 Speaking of Shine---Yes, we had to sample some----4 distilleries worth as a matter of fact!
 selves of shine.
 Forgot the name of this guy, but he's the actual guy from the tv show and makes peach shine.
 open fermenting shine.
 the typical store of the distilleries.
 We walked the length of town.
 another view of the ski lift.
 It really is a nice quaint easy street to walk.
 Davy Crocketts was the last distillery we went to.  I liked that they had creamed shine--much like Bailey's.
 The kids loved posing with the cutouts.
 one of the candy shops along the way.
 another prop to pose with.
 more flowers. 
 We enjoyed the tasting here at Doc Collier the most.  They seemed to do the best job of explaining the techniques and such.
 bumper stickers in Doc Collier. 
 The list of samples we went through.  After 4 distilleries of 11 or so samples, I was feeling pretty good!
 They even have Shined Cherries.
 this gal in Doc Collier was explaining about how to tell if you have a better shine by the way it coated the glass.
 more along the main street.
 a little inlet along the road.
 We were taking a break here when the rental company called to go over the procedure for renting the house and letting them know it was taken off the market and being held for them.
 Faith with her sticker journal book with her newest sticker about Moonshine.
behind the fountain was a great little doughnut place.   We diluted our moonshine with a doughnut.
 back to walking the main road.
 more odd characters along the road.
 3 years ago when Angie and Josh lived in Atlanta they introduced me to Mellow Mushroom pizza----love that pizza!  We made this our dinner stop.
 heading up to the Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant.
 inside Mellow Mushroom.  I forgot to take a picture of the pizza.  It was so good, we dug right into it!
 Just outside Mellow Mushroom in another little inlet is a stage where musicians are usually performing. 
 After eating our pizza we went out by the music and sat in rocking chairs and enjoyed the music.
 this couple sitting off to the side had tap shoes on and tapped to the music while they sat there.
 walking back to the car we came across these loosers---at least that's what the restaurant workers try to treat you like.
more views along the way
 back in the car heading back to Sevierville.

 more food choices.
 even saw King Kong.
 Soon we were back at the Wyndham and enjoying the heated pool and jacuzzi.
 Next day we went back towards Knoxville to check out the house one more time before putting payment down on it.  Passed more activities along the way---like helicopter rides.  Hope this isn't the one they use!
 I loved seeing all the hills and trees.
 on the road that leads to their future house---beautiful rural views.

 measuring the walls
 view from the diningroom
 the "bonus" room upstairs had 3 big "closets" with small doors.  I could actually stand up in here.
 Faith coming from the other 2 "closets".
 view from their place.
 Pears?  Looks like they have a few apple trees, too.
 finally a yard for Jesse with a tall fence.
 more of the back yard.
 the current resident there.
then we headed towards downtown Knoxville to see it by day light.  Got a kick out of this car rental place along the way.
 walking down the pedestrian square in Knoxville.
 on our way to Soccer Taco
 Love the bucket of chips and the salsa was really good.  Our lunches were very good, too.  Tim will probably eat here a lot during his lunch hour.
 more of downtown Knoxville.
 Where Tim will be working soon.
 back to the city park
 I love coins, so had to get a picture of the buffalo nickel
 more of the park
 the park
 over on Gay street now.
 shopping along Gay street.
Back at the condo, it was time to hit the jacuzzi and pool again.
Next morning we headed off to find Mama's.  It won the biscuit contest a few days before and Tim and FAith were anxious to check out their biscuits. 
 first---a couple more pictures with props.

 Here's Faith checking out rockers trying to find the perfect ones for her porch.
 Breakfast in Mama's was family style.  It was GREAT!!! 
 The "kids" also stopped to buy new phones on this trip.  Tim turned in his work phone and needed one and Faith was ready to upgrade.  So for the next couple days, they spent a lot of time finding cool things that their new phones could do.
 of course it takes several kinds of selfies.
 While they did that, I walked around the grounds marvelling at the landscaping.

 Back on the road and heading to the Smokies again when we saw this truck.
 Love the chicken on the baseboard.
 heading up the mountains this time.   1st stop overlooked Gatlinburg.

 lots of wild rhodies were still blooming.
 an interesting sign along the way.
 getting up into the clouds.

 views of the distant mountains.
During the growing season, the Smokie's lush vegetation emits large quantities of moisture and organic compounds.  Together they form the natural haze, which is thickest on calm, sunny, humid days.  That and air pollution contribute to the smoky appearance. 

 We even came across part of the 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail
 On our way to the highest point in the Smokies.
 through some more clouds

 about to hike the .5 mile to the highest point.
 wild flowers along the way.
 clouds along the way
the way the whole .5 mile to the top was.  Boy am I out of shape!!!
 Clingman's Dome

 heading up to the dome

 foliage along the way
 Finding out more fun things to do with the phones. 

 heading back down

 views along the way
 pretty wild flowers.
 more wild flowers.
 leaving the little gift store.
bird along the way
 more pretty scenery
 more wild flowers.

 the happy soon to be Tennesseans again.
 heading back down the mountain.
 finally see some blue skies.

 another little river

 they took me on another mile long hike to a waterfall, too.

 reminded me of our hikes in the Oregon mountains---only not as high in elevation.

 another weird wild flower
 dragging the shutter
 crossing a bridge---and playing with the phone some more.
part of the waterfall.
 Cataract Falls
 Heading back to the car we went a different route.  Ended up in this cemetary!
 almost back to the Sugarland visitor's center.
 appropriately named Umbrella Magnolia
More wild flowers.
 coming back into Gatlinburg we stopped to listen to the music again

 then headed down the road to find the Mill
 near the Mill is a blacksmith who lets you pay to be the blacksmith.  
 The old Mill
 reflection in the water
 across from the mill was this cafe which we decided to go to for dinner.
 dinner was great again.
 shrimp and rice and gumbo soup---we must be in the south
 more flowers
 next day we headed back towards St. Louis.  Went the northern route through more of Kentucky.  Saw a lot more horses that route.
Definitely the prettier route---more rolling hills.  Even went through Louisville.
 Parked downtown and walked a couple blocks to the Louisville Slugger factory.

 Not quite the cuteness of Knoxville.
 did like the horses, though.
 the factory was fun to tour.
 I learned alot more about making bats then I ever thought there was to learn.

 Tim  ready to bat.
 the Babe
 an OLD picture of Ozzie---before he was a Cardinal.
 Slugger Tim again.

 Yea!   CArdinals!!!!
It was a fun trip!  Short but packed with lots of things I've never done before.  Glad they asked me if I wanted to come along.  Can't wait to go visit them in their new home.

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