Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg Weekend
December 16-18, 2005
Last year, I had the bright idea to go to Dollywood in December. Since it was open, and they run the coasters in the winter, I wanted to go try out Thunderhead. I wasn’t aware until last year just how close the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area was. And Thunderhead was screaming at me to come and ride. So I brought it up to a few people, eventually everyone else did the planning, and we went on a Saturday in December. Ten of us, and we all had lots of fun. After coming back and talking about it for some time, many more coaster geeks and such decided that they would like to come as well if we did it again. Well, this weekend, we did it again. With seven more people than last year, and only 6 repeats from last year (what’s up with that?).
So, months of planning went into this weekend. Of course, I took it upon myself to plan. And one thing the group (or most of them anyways) learned was not to trust Clint with money. More importantly, I should say, don’t trust Clint with Math. Ever. Ever ever, in fact. Though next year, I think I can handle just reserving the meal. I did a good job with that. So after literally almost a year of planning, we had a group of 19 going. Then Josh (Rampage) and Brandi (his wifey) had to back out. So, we were down two people, but since they weren’t going to eat at the buffet and they didn’t have to pay to get in with their season passes, it wasn’t hard to re-plan anything. In fact, we didn’t have to at all.
So the week finally came. I was driving from Southern West Virginia to Pigeon Forge by myself. I was off for the week prior to the trip, so I was able to adjust my sleeping (I’m a day sleeper) during that time. So, on Friday, December 16, I woke up early and headed south. The drive from home to the Pigeon Forge area is about 4 hours, but interstate once I reach Bluefield, Va., which is about an hour from me. Since my Xterra drinks gas like a fish drinks water, not to mention I’m in need of new tires (c’mon income tax refund), I borrowed my parent’s Honda Element for the weekend. I got my ginger pills, bufferin rip off, XM Radio, and CD case from my car and off I went. I like driving. Thank goodness for XM Radio.
I arrived in Sevierville around 1pm. Beth A., who had picked up Kris Allen (Bucknut) and Danny Perkins (+Danny) were heading to Louisville to pick up Mike Case (Boblogone) and Matt Scott (Acoustic Viscosity) as their flights landed…or so she thought. Unfortunately, when Matt arrived in Cincinnati, they canceled his flight to KY, so he was on a bus that took far longer than they had anticipated. I arrived to Pigeon Forge after Tina (coasterqueenTRN) and Ed (chillforce), so I met up with Ed as Tina waited at the NASCAR Speed Park for Nicole (CoasterChickN). Half of the power was out in Pigeon Forge, and none of the traffic lights worked. The coaster at NASCAR Speed Park was closed for the weekend as well, bummer.
So I met Ed at Best Western and we headed towards Gatlinburg, stopping for me to pick up some stuff on the way. We stopped to look at Hillbilly Golf, which never opened, and then we rode thru Gatlinburg, where I had never been before. Tina called, and she and Nicole decided to meet us back at the parking lot by Hillbilly Golf. Since we weren’t far away, we drove around downtown Gatlinburg a bit. While down there, I had seen a Ferris Wheel and a Yo-Yo and something else I couldn’t make out up on a hill. We drove up a road to see if we could get closer to investigate, and found a park that had to have been closed for quite some time, as everything was needing to be painted, de-rusted, and what not. It was abandoned. It only had a couple of rides in it, but it looked quaint. I couldn’t figure out how to turn around, but the gate to the park was open, and that was the only place the road let to turn around, so I turned around by the Yo-Yo and headed back down. Interesting, to say the least, never drove thru an amusement park before, and I didn’t really mean to this time.
So we picked up the girls at the parking lot and headed to park in Gatlinburg. We went to the far end, paid, and left the Element in a covered car park. Then we headed out into Gatlinburg, as none of us had ever really been there. We were going to go thru the Ripley’s Haunted House, but I wasn’t paying $14 just to go thru. That was far too expensive for something I’ve done elsewhere, and while good, isn’t too impressive. So we walked more, found a candy shop where I had a wonderful green apple dipped in caramel and chocolate, and then we walked down to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies at 4pm. Mike Bartlett (MABrider) was just arriving in the area, and was going to meet us here in a while. So we paid and went on in.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokeys-The Aquarium was wonderful! I had been thru the Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach and loved it, so I knew I would like this one. It was very similar, but also different; though that could be more because it has been a few years since I had been thru the one at Myrtle. We wandered around looking at fish and what not until we arrived at the tunnel going under the shark and fish tanks. We all really enjoyed standing on the moving walkway as sharks, sawfish, eels, turtles and more swam around us. We liked it so much that we wanted to do it again.
Then I realized something. Mike may have been trying to call…but you don’t get a signal when you’re under thousands of gallons of water on your cell. So we went to call him, but actually saw Mike standing on the balcony above us. We went up to meet him, and got a chance to do the first half of the aquarium all over again, which was fine, as we really kind of wanted to anyhow. This place really was great.
We spent quite a lot of time at the aquarium, saw some feedings taking place, and petted the stingrays and lots of other stuff. Then the crew picked up a few things at the gift shop before we headed out. It was getting dark by this time. Walking down main street Gatlinburg, someone saw a shop down one of the offshoot alleyways. I mentioned how we had plenty of time, so we could go and look. We did. After coming around to the back of the shops, we walked down by the hotels and what not on the other street. Then I saw something I had read about and was interested in, Mystery Mansion. This was a haunted attraction in Gatlinburg that I’ve heard good things about, so since everyone wanted to go, we headed towards the Tiki Torches. Tina was happy about that…
We arrived to the almost glowing white house to see nobody else around. The attraction was open, but it was still early, and no one was there but us. So we paid our way and headed in. This was by far one of the best haunted houses I’ve done in a while.
Mystery Mansion-This was a rather large attraction. They have live actors that can not touch you, nor can you touch them. It was really well done. And it was an entire building filled up with haunted house offerings. I was spooked a couple times, after complaining to the actors that they weren’t doing their job by scaring me. They made up for it after that.
One thing that was fun was standing on one of the balconies that were outside on the front of the ‘mansion’. Mike B. made the comment that it would be funny if it dropped. We laughed. A few minutes later, we were in an ancient Egyptian Tomb themed area, and I went onto another balcony. And it DID drop. It also made me scream. Good job, scared me. The actors got better. We were the only ones getting the attention, after all. Oh, and I have to say that the room with the doors was a nice touch. As well as the first room, which was very much like a generic version of the first room on Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure? Well, except that you don’t get Rod Searling talking to you, and you have to find your way ‘behind the fireplace’.
So we walked back to the main street and picked up my car after checking out Ober-Gatlinburg. We took the girls back to their car after checking on Mike’s, which was by the Aquarium. We were to meet the rest of our group at the Hard Rock Café at 8pm, but I wanted to get there around 7:30 to make sure they knew we had quite a few coming. I parked, the girls parked, and the five of us went on in to the Hard Rock to meet Brian Yarbororrorwgh (Homey G.), his special lady friend, Alicia, and his good friend Brad (or was it B-Rad? I can’t remember…).
We all got a table and waited. Beth and company were supposed to be there soon. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Beth and Co. were not having a good trip. They did finally arrive at the hard rock around 9:20. We had eaten by that point and had a very nice time getting to know one another in person. Hard Rock was standard, but there were far more Mohawks, kilts, and pre-op transsexuals working there than at other Hard Rock Cafés I’ve been to. Don’t ask, just trust me.
When the BethBus did arrive, we walked down to Wendy’s for them to eat as Hard Rock was getting crowded. We all sat there for quite a while, and eventually went our separate ways. Beth had rented a cabin, so Matt, Danny, and I rode in my ride for the weekend up to the cabin. We got turned around a couple times, but found it. It was really quaint, even without the Foosball table and the fact that their hot tub didn’t work that nite. Oh well. Sleep came fast for me when I eventually made it to my bed. Would tomorrow cooperate?
Kris was picked up in Cinci and we headed down 75 to 71 to pick up Mike and Matt at the Louisville airport. It was the cheapest out of the bunch from Detroit down to Tennessee (I think I'm writing a country song now), so we ran for breakfast at Denny's after Mike tossed his luggage in the back and hopped in the front seat (car owner's bias boyfriend privileges). After finding out that Matt's Cinci-> Louisville flight was cancelled and he had to ride a bus down, we circled the airport and passed Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom ad nauseum, but respectfully held most comments and maledictions back. Matt finally arrived and we squeezed into the back for a fun-filled, iPod-filled (three of them in the car) ride and a trip down music history lane, which oddly enough, felt like a shorter trip than from entering Pigeon Forge to Dollywood Lane. If you've even been, you got the picture, then probably immediately attempted to delete it from your memory. Not so easy when I bring up the past, eh? ;)
We got lost a number of times in this small area and totally passed up our light with Dawn's Magic Traffic Escape alternate route thinking we were supposed to turn at light 3 in Gatlinburg instead of Pigeon Forge. Ultimately, we were late for the dinner and everyone cried and drunk themselves silly in our tardiness. Hey lush, have fun, it's the weekend, I know. Even though you guys were at Hard Rock painstakingly early, no one was more sorry to take that long to get there than the five of us, especially the trio lodged into each other's orifices and tangled joints in the back seat of Beth's car (Mike, Matt, and I). I really should have practiced being a contortionist before I opted to be bithcy-in-the-middle on the way down. More comments as the epic unfolds..
Enjoyable as always Clint and can't wait for mo', which reminds me, there totally was a Grandma's Little House of Pancakes and Mo' in PF for whoever is familiar with the disappointing and post-traumatic stress-inducing story about a restaurant with supposedly the same name yet ending up being a self-storage facility we found around Gurnee during CoasterBuzz Con '04. Cheer!
+Danny, leave your inhibitions at the door
Wow! I've been to a lot more events than I thought!
+Danny, "Gladiator! Gladiator!" Before the Gang Bang ;) Kris
XM Radio, and CD case from my car and off I went. I like driving. Thank goodness for XM Radio.
I personally prefer Sirius, we listen everyday at work Hard Attack, Raw Dog, Hair Nation, and Buzzsaw. Can't wait till 1-09-06 and Stern!
Michael Darling said:
Sorry I couldn't make it. I had to watch my mom get her Certificate of Jesus at her church.
I'm just wondering...what do the Jews give out??? Plaques????
No, because we all didn't just 'show up'. I haven't gotten to Dollywood yet ;). BTW, you were mentioned, ThemeDesigner. Jump those people that didn't tell you about it ;).
Sirius has Martha Stewart and Howard Stern, which could be a bonus for some, but I hate them both. XM has a better digital feed to their online access. Sirius isn't as good a quality. But to be totally honest, both are not bad.
If you have high speed internet access, go to their respective websites and sign up for a 3 day trial of their online listening. It is worth it to actually sample both of them. John 'Michael Darling' has Sirius, and after listening to XM online (the programming), preferred Sirius a little more.
Both, in my opinion, are good choices, but I'm happy with XM. I don't think either one are going to go under soon, though, George :).
^ Nah, we all knew you were an illiterate moron, now we have proof! LOL
Hehehehe...At least I don't have anyone going "Hey! You misspelled 'Too', idiot!" ;).
Well, to put it in perspective, and I have listened to Sirius, which I don't 'dislike', but XM Radio has over 5mill subscribers, as Sirius has less than half of that.
I believe Sirius is now over 3 mil subscribers. (at least from what I read in USA Today)
-Tambo (hoping Santa drops a Sirius radio w/subscription under the tree :) )
I'm just wondering...what do the Jews give out??? Plaques????
And I managed to stand on a chair holding a chocolate sundae with a candle while everyone in the bar made fun of me, while I tried to keep my balance and not make an ass out of myself.
Well, I did make an ass out of myself anyway but I was too plastered to care. :-P At least I managed NOT to fall on my face.
You also forgot about the cherry. Heheheh.
*** Edited 12/19/2005 11:25:01 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
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