Thursday, August 17, 2017

Happy Birthday from the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

Well, today is my birthday...58 years young.  Where has the time gone?  I couldn't think of a prettier place to spend it than the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee where my mom's ancestors came from for a time.  Scott and I took a little drive into part of the Smokies where I was able to take photos of the changing leaves...I mentioned it a few days ago, but I doubt anyone believed me since it's only mid-August.  
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Leaves are Changing
Looking Down into Gatlinburg
We went to the Sugarlands Visitor's Center where I stamped my book and also toured the museum of plant and animal life there in the Smokies.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sugarlands Visitor's Center
Bridge Leading to the Visitor's Center
Striped Skunk eats insects, worms, small rodents, frogs, salamanders and fruit.
Gray Fox - (I love foxes!) He climbs trees and rests on limbs, harvests persimmons
in abundance in the park by shy and hard to see.
Woodchuck aka Ground Hog aka "Whistle Pig" loves to eat wildflowers
then hibernates until March when he goes out to look for his shadow.
Great Horned Owl has a deep "hoo, hoohoo, hoo, hoo" love to eat Cottontail Rabbits
Raccoon are found in soft mud and sand along the creeks
The Red Fox (another of my favorites) is stunning and active during daylight hunting mice and small animals including
grasshoppers, bird eggs, fruit, berries and seeds, but he's not a common site in the park.
Wild Hogs uproot sod, saplings and shrubs and invade all parts of the park.
The Bobcat - (one of my favorites as much as foxes) - is a quiet, solitary hunter.
Bobcats is common in the park but rarely observed.
Opossums eat fruit, insects, mushrooms, eggs, young birds and carrion.
You see them at night where they prefer old, overgrown fields or open woods and streams.
The last time Scott and I was here was in 1988 when we were driving our family to South Carolina where we lived for a year when Scott was in the Air Force, and walked the streets of Gatlinburg
Once we got to Gatlinburg, only 10 minutes from Pigeon Forge where we are staying, we parked in a 3 story parking structure.  We got an end unit for our tuna boat huge dually truck and stepped right out on the street. It turns out that there was an old log cabin from the early 1800s tucked right up into the parking structure! Curiosity overtook me and we stepped inside the Ogle Cabin.  I love all things old and historic so when I saw this I was in hog heaven!  Our host, Debbie, told us all about the history of the Ogle family. If you clink on the 3 links, it will tell you a very interesting history.
The Ogle Cabin
A fearless pioneer!
Debbie was a great hostess.
10 people slept in this 10' x 14' foot log cabin.
The hearth
Antique Cabinet
Antique dresser and chair
Sign hanging on the beams
Saber above the bed
This is where we parked our truck - right next to the cabin.
It was fun to walk the streets of Gatlinburg with all the shops and attractions, but the town is not as quaint and charming as it used to be.  Back in '88, the town was much more quiet and we were there when the leaves were changing, making a leaf peeping area.  Today, the place was so crowded with tourists shopping "the strip" having more and more buildings than ever before.  The shops back when were more classy and interesting but the shops today were just junky tourist stores...there were a few cute ones but for the most part, it was underwhelming.
Flowers adorned the city.
More flowers, river and walkways
Miniature Golf up the mountain!  Gatlinburg had LOTS of pee-wee golf!
Stop 8 on the Route
The most interesting shop we came across was Sugarlands Distillery.  There were bartenders yelling out and about and people were in there by the scores!  Now, that shop smelled so strong that you were nearly drunk by the time you walked by...and I'm not exaggerating in the least! It was extremely odoriferous -- strong alcohol liquor.  Ew-eeee!  But it made for some fun photos.
Sugarlands Distillery
Building exterior - lots of people were hanging around.
Huge vats...
...and hillbilly workers (hee-hee)
Probably 100 people were inside tasting the moonshine!
We did a bunch of window shopping and Scott bought some divinity at a candy store and bought me 2 pieces of sugar-free salted caramel. I normally don't eat sugar, but since it's my birthday, I ate them.
Scott's Sugar Addiction to Divinity
Tonight, Scott took me to Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge. It's her newest show and we had premiere seating with a nice meal of Grandma's Creamy Vegetable Soup, Avie Lee's Fried Chicken, Pulled Pork Scalded and cooked over at Grandpa Jakes, Buttery Corn on the Cob picked by Uncle Billy, Cabin Taters out of John Henry's Garden, Dorothy Jo's Homemade Biscuits and Aunt Martha's Southern Peach Pie.  So much for my calorie counting between dinner the other night at Paula Deen's and then tonight!  I'll be glad to leave the southern cooking to someone else and get back to my diet.
(Web Photo)
Our table...we sat by a couple celebrating their anniversary from Ohio.
Our Tickets
(Web Photo)
The dinner and show showcased the love story of Dolly Parton's parents, Lee Parton and Avie Lee Owens, children of the Parton/Owens feud.  They family had a long standing rivalry until tragedy brought the family together. The cast was spectacular and Sammy, our dinner host, was a great server who took care of our dinner portion all night.  It was a nice birthday treat.

When we got home, my little duck friend that I met this morning was still hanging around.  It rained earlier this morning with a good downpour for about a half hour and when I walked outside the back door of the RV, there was this duck right at my feet! Scared the bajeebers out of me!  And, he's been around all day and even when we got home at 8:45 p.m. tonight.  He must be a resident of the park.

Wading in the Water this Morning.
Digging for bugs, I guess.
Waddling Around in the Water
Looking for mischief.
It was a fun birthday.  All the kids and grandkids called; Scott's brother and his wife, Scott's mom and my sister.  My brother, Dave's birthday was yesterday so I called him then and we exchanged birthday wishes to each other at that time.  Tomorrow when Scott works, I'll probably take a drive back into the Smokies and do some exploring over at Cade's Cove and then after work will take him on a 5-miles mountain motor tour ride in Gatlinburg.

OH!  That reminds me!  We are spending an extra night here in Pigeon Forge but we have to leave on the 20th.  When I plotted in our course for Franklin County, Missouri - our next stop - I totally forgot about the Eclipse on the 21st!  We are going to be in trouble because Franklin County is right in the center viewing strip and looking at directions through Nashville to Paducah, Kentucky and over to Franklin County ALL OF IT is in the prime center of the eclipse.  We won't be able to find lodging anywhere AND the freeways and roadways will most likely be jammed...we have to come up with a plan between now and then...stay tuned!


  1. You amaze me every day! What a wonderful way to spend your birthday!

  2. Nothing too amazing...just seeking out adventures.