Saturday, August 8, 2015

Smoky Mountain Vacation

It's been two weeks since Michael and I got home from Gatlinburg, but I'm just getting around to writing about it. This is our second year vacationing in Gatlinburg together. My mother in law has a time share, and we've been fortunate to have time off to go. Here are just a few highlights from our trip.

On the first night, we ate at the Smoky Mountain Brewery. Michael and I both had steaks, baked potatoes, and salad, which were delicious. The pizza here looked and smelled great! Next time we go, I'm definitely trying the pizza.

On the second day, we went to the Craftmen's Fair in downtown Gatlinburg. They had several vendors with handmade arts, crafts, jewelry, and much more. We went with intentions to just look and kill time, but we wound up doing some Christmas shopping.

After the Craftmen's Fair, we drove to Pigeon Forge to eat lunch at my favorite place, the Apple Barn restaurant. The Apple Barn restaurant offers country cooking at its finest. I love the apple fritters and apple juleps. I also like to walk around the apple orchards, winery, and cute shops after eating.

After lunch, we toured the Titanic Exhibit. I wanted to do it last year, but we didn't have time. Unfortunately, they didn't allow pictures inside the exhibit. They were pretty strict before allowing us to tour. We had to cut our cell phones completely off beforehand or it would signal the alarms. I don't know if that's true, but I wasn't taking my chances. We each got a headset to hear additional information and a card with a passenger's name on it. At the end of the tour, we would learn if our passenger survived. The exhibit took us through Titanic's construction, departure, the boiler room, the control room, living quarters, the Grand Staircase, and the night of its sinking. I was impressed with the uncovered artifacts. I wanted to read more, but it was so crowded.  The coolest part was the iceberg room. There was a giant block of ice to mimic an iceberg. It's still a mystery to me how they keep it from melting. There was a pool of water chilled to 28 degrees, the same temperature of the water the night Titanic sunk. It hurt just to stick my hand in there, but when I moved it back and forth it was unbearable. My hand was in the water only seconds. It's hard to imagine what it was like for the passengers that night. I was disappointed that they didn't allow pictures, but they did offer to take our picture in front of the Grand Staircase towards the end of our tour. We got a free digital download.

After the Titanic tour, we played putt putt at Ripley's Old McDonald's Farm. This was one of many games of putt putt that we played on this trip. There's plenty of putt putt courses to choose from in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
On the third day, we rode through Cades Cove. Last year we did the 11 mile bike ride on a Wednesday when the roads are closed to cars until 11:00  This year we rode through in the truck with intentions of stopping at some of the trails, but it poured when we first got there leaving the trails muddy and slick. We still got to see plenty from the truck including some deer and a bear. I didn't get a good picture of the bear. It was trying to cross the road and it was moving quickly. Cades Cove is beautiful! I would highly recommend it. I personally preferred riding bikes, but we still saw plenty from the truck.

After riding through Cades Cove, we headed back to downtown Gatlinburg. It was still pouring rain. We rode around in circles looking for parking. It was late in the afternoon, and we were starving. We finally broke down and paid $10 to park. We ate Chinese for lunch. Then, we toured the Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium. There was a lot of interesting stuff  there, but I was most impressed with the artwork.

World's Longest Gum Wrapper Chain
This rug is made from a continuous gum wrapper chain measuring over 6,600 feet long!
Bob Marley
Made of cassette tape film
 This painting was done with fingernail polish

 This artist was ambidextrous. He drew both portraits at the same time.

This picture was painted while the artist was swimming.

Bottle cap art
How's that for a recycled art project?
On our last full day, we ate breakfast at the Pancake Pantry and walked around the shops downtown.
The Village Shops
We watched them make taffy at the candy factory while we waited in line for the Pancake Pantry.


I loved these flowers! They were all over the place.
We had a great time! It just went by too fast like all vacations. I did two 5K's while we were vacationing: the Northview Academy Beat the Band 5K on Friday night and the Color the Smokies Color Fun Run on Saturday morning. You can read more about them in my race recap section or by clicking the links.

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