Cross country: Final Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

June 30, 2013

Have you ever closed your eyes and just put your finger down on a bunch of items to choose one? Well, that’s how it is when picking out a location and RV Park to stay in. I went on the internet and found Pigeon Forge and this Park. I did this without knowing anything about the location. And you know the rest!

Today, on our way back into the National Park from a different direction, we found the nice quiet, sleepy town we thought Pigeon Forge was. A lot of parks do not advertise on the internet. Actually, if we hadn’t stayed in Pigeon Forge, we would have missed two great shows. So, everything worked out fine.

Our excursion into the National Park worked out great today too. We took the Cades Loop. The loop itself was 11 miles and to get to it was about 12 miles. It was pretty. Set in a valley, the Park’s meadows were beautiful. We did see some wildlife—three bears and a couple of deer. I got a great shot of the deer, but the bears were really too far away. But you’re going to see one of them anyway!

Also, there were more cabins and churches. I’m only going to show you one of each. I think by now you’ve seen enough cabins! On the way home, traffic came to a halt because of a motorcycle accident. They air lifted the cyclist out for medical attention. We only hope he is okay.

Tomorrow, we are moving on and will be doing two overnight stops so we can get to our Park near Washington, D.C. by July 3rd. The campgrounds in towns close to D.C. are expensive, between $50 and $60 per night. I’m sure the hotels are just as expensive relatively speaking.

Because we will be traveling for two days, I’m going to take a rest from doing the blog unless something happens that you absolutely need to know. I’ll be back on the air July 3rd. Let’s hope I picked out some good parks on the internet.

 

Cross country: #2 Pigeon Forge Tennesse and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park

June 29, 2013

What would you do for $100.00? Would you sit and listen to a 90-minute time share presentation? We’ve done things like that before, and it wasn’t bad. So, we signed up. BIG mistake! It took 3 hours and 15 minutes to say no! There went our morning. The negotiation was fun though. We got them down from a three-bedroom for a week at $75,000 to a one-bedroom every other year at $7,000.

We did make it to the Park, but not on the drive we thought we would take. We took a shorter drive, but pretty. They had a great picnic site that had a table at every parking place. The driveway on each site was deep enough for two cars. After being frustrated with the time share fiasco, it was great to sit and enjoy lunch under the trees.

This auto tour ended at the Cingman’s Dome Lookout, 6,643 ft. in elevation. On this auto tour, you couldn’t drive all the way up to the lookout; you had to walk a very steep ½ mile (Or at least they said that it was, but it seemed like a mile.}. We huffed and puffed our way up, but made it. And, it was worth it as you will see in the images. Even through the haze and cloud conditions, it was worth the climb. Going down was much easier.

As in yesterday’s tour there were streams and waterfalls, but I’m going to show you the landscape shots. Tomorrow we are going to go to Cades Cove in the hopes of seeing some wildlife. Except for the ducks that seem to think they own the RV Park, we haven’t seen wildlife here.

Tomorrow is another day, and we won’t be saying okay to any presentations again, even for $100.

 

Cross country: Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park

June 28, 2013

I just can’t make up my mind! Pigeon Forge and the surrounding cities are commercialized and cater to tourists in a big way. This is the place for a family vacation. It is crowded with people and traffic. Our RV Park is a small haven.

So, what’s my dilemma? We went to the Smokey Mountain Opry last night and the show was great. The cast members are extremely talented. It was worth the admission price. I did take some images which I will show you on a moving on or rainy day. The National Park is the same. It is crowded, difficult to navigate, but beautiful. Is this a great place or not? That’s my dilemma!

Today we took an auto tour of the Park. This road was a twisty, narrow one-lane road. I have some pictures for you. There are pull outs for the cars so we can stop to see nature’s beauty, but there aren’t enough of them. There are about seven auto tours. The one we took today mainly featured waterfalls and old cabins. I won’t show you every cabin, but it’s amazing that they are still standing. I didn’t appreciate that visitors carved their names into the cabins’ wood logs and siding.

The forest is dense and beautiful. I hope you agree. Tonight we are going to see a magic show, and tomorrow we are going to take another auto tour that promises wildlife. How exciting!

Maybe seeing bears and deer will help me make up my mind!

Cross country: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

June 27, 2013

What a show last night! And it was free, courtesy of Mother Nature. It was a night full of loud thunder, dramatic lightning and torrential rain. We must have had at least 2 inches of rain fall on the Park and the creek behind it.

I’m sorry that I didn’t take pictures yesterday so you could see the difference last night’s storm made. But take my word for it, the creek wasn’t moving and was well below the picnic tables. There was a family tenting down in the tent area, but no more!

We are going to have possible thundershowers for a couple more days, so this will be interesting. The humidity is above 80%. When you come out of an air-conditioned building, your glasses fog up. My hair, which I decided to make pretty today since I wouldn’t need to wear a hat (no sun), has curled without any thought to what would look good. So, on goes the hat anyway.

We journeyed out to find out how to get to the National Park, which was our original motive in coming here, and to take some shots of what we did find when we arrived yesterday. Honestly, we were not prepared for the spectacle of attraction after attraction. We saw an upside-down building, the Titanic, and King Kong! Then there were shop after shop selling anything and everything. I have images of the upside-down building and the Titanic to show you.

And, best of all, we found a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. Yum!  I’m going to have a Weight Watcher problem here. But, that chocolate topped, custard filled doughnut tasted so good. When I finish the blog today, I’m walking the dog. Then maybe I’ll walk him some more.

Tonight we are going to the Smokey Mountain Opry. It’s supposed to be a variety show with all kinds of music and comedy. We could have gone to the Hatfield and McCoy’s dinner show or the Lumber Jack Feud dinner show. All the restaurant chains are here, and there are shopping outlets too. You can shop your heart out and get rid of your money too.

Tomorrow, we are going into the National Park for some nature trails and solitude. We may take in the magic show after dinner. I just hope Mother Nature doesn’t put on another show.

Cross Country: Nashville (The Parthenon and honky tonkin)

June 26, 2013

Carol, my dear friend, we made it to Pigeon Forge and the Great Smokey Mountains today. This seems to be home to various attractions including Dollywood!

Yes, I know I said that we would try to make it to the Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, but we changed our minds and came east to Pigeon Forge which is near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. But, I think we are getting more than we bargained for!

Yesterday we visited the Parthenon in Nashville and then went honky tonkin (Nashville speak for clubbing). I was sort of disappointed in both. First let’s talk about the Parthenon. While I thought the building not spectacular, the reason for it being there was.

Nashville built this full-sized replica of the Greek temple for the Goddess Athena for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition. Other states and countries also built pavilions for the celebration. These structures were built so they could be torn down after the Centennial. However, the Parthenon, which housed a world-wide art exhibition, was a hit. So, they kept it up; and, in 1920, rebuilt the structure that stands today.

I thought the art was poorly displayed, and the only floor that we could take pictures on was full of headless, armless and legless statues—and, of course Athena! I did find some things I want to show you. I could show you more of the pictures, but I won’t.

After the Parthenon, we had dinner and were smart not to eat downtown. Remember I said Memphis was expensive? Well, Nashville is worse. We paid $14 to park instead of $4. And on it goes. Also, the clubs were more spread out. Memphis’s Beale Street was just three blocks and was closed to cars. It was easy to jump from one club to the other. Also, I think I didn’t enjoy it as much because we are not big country music fans. I did get some shots that I will show you. Please let me know if I’m putting in too many images.

Tomorrow, we will try to sort out all the attractions we stumbled upon and find the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Carol, I’m not so sure we will make it into Dollywood.

Cross country: Nashville, Tennessee (State Capitol)

June 25, 2013

It’s been a dog day—truly, Gem got groomed and pampered! Kathryn at White House Animal Hospital did a great job. Hopefully, this will help him stay cool.

Speaking of cool, we had a great tour of the State Capitol yesterday and I have the images for you. We thoroughly enjoyed the history of Tennessee politics. And for half the tour, we were the only attendees.

The Capitol building is beautiful and unusual because it does not have a rotunda like many other capitol buildings. Designed and overseen by William Strickland, the capitol has a Greek revival look. Strickland died before the building was completed and his son took over. He quit before it was completed in 1859 with only one room left to go—the library. You’ll see that the library has a different look and feel than the rest of the building.

Tennessee’s legislature works part time. And, the country’s three distinctive geographical areas (flat land, rolling hills and mountainous) reflect in its politics. Our guide was knowledgeable in all areas and eagerly answered all our questions.

Tonight, we will go into Nashville, shoot some buildings, maybe visit the Parthenon (an exact replica of the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece), eat and listen to some music.

Tomorrow, we hope to go to Mammoth Cave National Park in Tennessee. We won’t be pampering the dog.

Cross country: Nashville, Tennessee; The Grand Ole Opry

June 24, 2013

Confession time! We are not country music fans. We like the crossover country music and certain artists, but we are not full-fledged fans. But we felt no Nashville visit would be complete without visiting the Grand Ole Opry.

We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. It was a delight to hear the woman sitting next to me sing along with the old tapes of premier artists when the Opry began. A lot of the names were lost on me, having no point of reference. But, the Opry’s history is fascinating.

Whenwe went backstage, I was in awe. It is a beautiful building. The dressing rooms were lush and were named, not for the stars, but for what the stars were. One was named “Friends and Family.” They named a special dressing room “Minnie Pearl.”

We were taken into the Green Room, Studio A, the artists’ entrance and the Opry stage. I’ve got quite a few photos for you. It was difficult to get what I wanted with all the people on the tour, but I did my best. When I stood on the wood circle brought over from the Ryman Auditorium when the Opry moved into its current location, I was overcome. So many greats have stood on that circle.

Next we tried to find the Ryman, but somehow missed it twice! We weren’t going to tour it, but I did want to take a picture of it. Downtown Nashville is amazing.

I loved the old buildings. They have such character, and I bet history. I wish we could have found a parking place so I could hop out and shoot some images—maybe tomorrow.

We gave up trying to find the Ryman and went to the State Capitol. We got to see more of the city since we turned in the wrong direction! I’ll talk about the State Capitol in tomorrow’s post. Gem is going to get groomed in the morning, so we will go into Nashville late in the afternoon, find a parking garage near the clubs, walk a bit so I can shoot some photos and then settle in and listen to music. I’m sure we will find a lot to choose from, even though we’re not country music fans.

Cross country: Nashville, Tennessee

June 23, 2013

What did we do today? Nothing! That was great. I even opened my PE9 For Dummies book.

Not going anywhere, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of life in an RV Park. Some are not as nice as the one pictured below, but typical is full hookups (meaning water, electric and sewer) and sites that you can pull through or back into. Our Memphis Park didn’t have a pool, but it had the mighty Mississippi. This Park has a pool and playground for children.

In many Parks, there are monthly renters. These folks live full time at the park and create a homey atmosphere via landscaping and decorations. This morning I met Ava and Eddy who live in the Park. They were able to give me the name of a dog groomer nearby and some things to see in Nashville. In some Parks, we’ve seen people put storage sheds and canvas car ports in their site.

Most Parks have a small store and/or gift shop. Our Memphis Park didn’t; however, our current Park does. What all Parks have are great neighbors. Our neighbors to our left are from Montana and will be gone from their home three months also. We are awning to awning, creating a nice shade area. I told them that they couldn’t leave until we leave! But, they are anxious to get to visit their friend in West Virginia. No matter where we stop, I’m able to meet people from all over. Whenever I walk Gem, greetings are abundant.

Speaking of Gem, there is a nice dog walk area and small fenced in area where dogs can run. I have images below. Most dogs prefer grass to gravel, and this Park is totally grassy. My dog is in heaven!

We will be here for at least four nights exploring Nashville and taking day trips to other places. In the meantime, it’s great to take a day to relax and do nothing.

Cross country: Last day in Memphis, Tennessee

June 22, 2013

It was my mother’s dream that went unfulfilled. She wanted to take a cruise down the Mississippi, but never did it. Yesterday we cruised on the Mississippi for her—a 90-minute sightseeing cruise.

Our guide was great. He gave us so much information and never stopped talking throughout the 90 minutes! I’m a Toastmaster and speaker, so I know how difficult that is.

It seems I gave you some misinformation. The boats I called tugs are really push boats. They work the river 24/7 and change crews monthly. New supplies are waiting for them at various spots on the river. He also said the River runs at about 5 MPH. It seems faster than that. We got the history of all the bridges, buildings and some people. By the end of the tour we were tired, tired, tired from the heat.

We then went to Sun Studios and did the tour there. Although the building is small and the tour group large, it was fun. We learned about the beginning of rock and roll in Memphis and heard parts of the original recordings. The studio is still used for recording in the evening.

We had a great time in Memphis, but it was very expensive. Some hints: If you can, eat in West Memphis, AR. The restaurants downtown are expensive and the food is just adequate.  Some clubs wave the cover charge; try them first. But the cover charge is only $3 per person in the clubs that do charge.

Today we hooked up the trailer, and took off this morning for Nashville—the Music City. What did we just leave? Landing in an RV park 15 minutes out of Nashville, we are resting tonight. There are trees here that will shade the rig. We were in the no trees area in the last park. But, they did have large grass areas that Gem loved running around.

I have pictures taken on the paddle wheel boat and a couple from the Sun Studio tour. I hope you like them.

I’m so happy that I had the chance to fulfill my Mother’s dream, even in a small way. Tomorrow, it’s the Grand Ole Opry and Honky Tonk Row or maybe we will just stay put. That may be my dream.

 

Cross country: Memphis Tennessee and Beale Street 2

June 21, 2013

I lied! Well, not intentionally, but we did go clubbing again last night. The one club we were going to visit had closed down, so back to Beale we went. So, I hope you’re not bored looking at more images of Beale St. I did try some street photography and found that it’s really difficult—another learning curve.

There were no motorcycles, so the streets were less crowded and more manageable. This time we went to clubs we missed the night before except for the Jerry Lee Lewis club. We like Jason James and his band. Beale St. is like the Sacramento Music Festival condensed and scrunched.

This morning, on the banks of the Mississippi, life is swiftly passing by. Tugs are working hard to get large barges up and down the river, and the occasional log floats by.  The folks at this park always greet you, and enjoy chatting. I get to meet people from all over the U.S. On our morning walk, I met a couple from Memphis! They said they just like to come here and watch the Mississippi. Oh the joys of RV travel.

Today, we’re doing laundry and will to the Mississippi River sightseeing cruise, tour Sun Studio and in the evening go to a coffee house that has music on Friday and Saturday evenings. At least I hope it turns out that way. No more lies!