Sunday in Dollywood, Yes, we went to Dollywood


I was looking forward to going to Dollywood, just to see what it was all about, but I really doubted that we would need the two-day pass offered for half price at the KOA office. We bought it anyway. Once again I had a preconceived idea of what it would be like, especially after seeing the main drag of Pigeon Forge — glitzy and loud.  Again, I was surprised, this time, pleasantly.

Almost at the door of our campground, we boarded the Trolley car that travels around the town, picking up people and delivering them to the various tourist venues. The cost, just 50 cents per person each way! It wasn’t worth putting on gear and taking the bike up the hill for that price.  Besides, it was threatening rain, and we did get some during the morning.  That meant not such a crowd of people and no long waits to get into things.

Trolley

Trolley

There are no flashing lights, nor garish billboards at Dollywood, and it’s located well off the local streets so doesn’t create a distraction. Dolly has done it up very tastefully, making use of  naturally treed land,and various artifacts from the days of her childhood. The  price of tickets is much less than what we’d have to pay at Canada’s Wonderland, or Disney World, and it’s not all about rides and carnival games.

Welcome

Welcome, to Dollywood

Our first stop, after grabbing a coffee at the Sandwich and Pastry Shop, was The Front Porch, a covered outdoor theatre area extended from the front porch stage of the replica house where Dolly was born. For a half hour we enjoyed listening to the sweet harmonies of Dolly’s Uncle Billy Owens, her cousins and niece, accompanied by Dolly’s Family Reunion Band.

Dolly's Family Reunion Band

Dolly’s Family Reunion Band

From there we walked to the train station to catch a ride around the park on train, pulled by an original coal-fired steam engine. Jim especially enjoyed listening to the whistle tunes played by the engineer.

Steam Train

Steam Train

When we disembarked, we took a ride on the authentic looking, although synthetic, old style carousel at the Country Fair. It didn’t matter that we were the only adults that had no children to accompany 🙂

There were only two things at the park that cost extra. The first one, of course, was food, and that was expensive — $21.00 for two pulled pork sandwiches with a small bag of potato chips and one ice tea for lunch. The rain had finally stopped by the time we finished eating and we strolled down to the Wilderness Pass, where the roller coasters, zip lines and a few other challenges were located. The Wild Eagle looked like a “must do!” Up we went, and down we went, hanging on for dear life and enjoying every minute of it. I can’t believe I’m saying that, since even as a child and up to the time of my mid-life turnaround, I would never go near anything more “scary” than a Ferris wheel! At Timber Canyon we survived another roller coaster ride called Thunderhead. It was at first easy until we were suddenly plunging head first into a coal mine shaft! Yikes! It was as rough ride and not nearly as much fun as the Wild Eagle. We asked about doing the Zip Line, but since there was an extra charge of $30.00 per person, we passed.

Wild Eagle

Wild Eagle

Wild Eagle

Wild Eagle,Flying off the edge

There are lots of little shops and restaurants in the park, but we went into only one shop — Dolly’s Closet, a ladies clothing and accessories shop, where I expected the quality items to be much more pricey than they were.

We toured the Chasing Rainbows Museum, and hoped to get a peak inside Dolly’s touring bus, but it wasn’t open that day. There were a few things that we could have gone back to see and it would have been nice to listen to some more music, but by five o’clock we’d had enough and caught the trolley back to camp, sticking to our original plan to leave on Monday. It was another great day.

Village Square

Village Square, Dollywood

One of Many Ponds

One of Many Ponds

Tonight, Monday, we are at another KOA at Renfro Valley, Kentucky, on our way home.

Pigeon Forge and Deals Gap


Although I promised to tell you about Tarpon Springs in my next post, I’ve decided to leave that and Atlanta for future posts, and bring you up to where we are this weekend, since it may well be our last interesting stop. The days are counting down to the date that we need to be home, so there won’t be much more time for being tourists.

Yesterday, Friday June 8th, we arrived at the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee KOA campgrounds late in the afternoon. The day had been much cooler than the few days before and the drive was pleasant. But when we arrived here we were hit with more heat and humidity and high air pollution.  There is lots of traffic in Pigeon Forge these days. After a quick dinner in the RV we hopped on the bike and did a tour of the downtown area. This is my first time here. It’s not at all what I expected! There is an Historic Area where there is a beautiful old flour mill and an old fashioned General Store.  We enjoyed an ice cream cone at the Creamery, and took some beautiful evening photos in this area before returning to the main street.

Flour Mill, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Flour Mill, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Flour Mill, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Mill Power Dam

Mill Power Dam

Mill Power Dam

Main Street, Pigeon Forge is a  completely different world. If Las Vegas is Tinsel Town, then this has to be Tacky Town. There are no gambling casinos, but there are just as many lights and signs flashing everywhere. It could be a fun  place to spend the weekend with kids, or be a kid yourself if you have money to spare.  There is no shortage of go-cart tracks or entertainment halls, or flashy hotels. There is an area of carnival rides, and a House of Magic. Even King Kong can be seen watching over the strip.

Go-Kart Racing, Pigeon Forge

Go-Kart Racing, Pigeon Forge

Go-Kart Racing, Pigeon Forge

Go-Kart Racing, Pigeon Forge

King Kong Takes Pigeon Forge

King Kong Takes Pigeon Forge

It was an interesting evening, but today, Saturday was much more our kind of day. We were up early and on the bike by nine o’clock, on our way to Deals Gap. The bikers reading this will know what this is all about.  For those who aren’t familiar, Deals Gap is a stretch of road that claims 318 turns in its eleven mile length, a biker’s dream run. People come from all over the USA and Canada, just to do the “Tail of the Dragon”, as it is also dubbed.

The air was clear and fresh, as we journeyed along Hwy 441 towards Cherokee. Once out of town the road began to gently twist and turn beneath the tree canopy through Smokey Mountain National Park. It was exhilarating. You can’t really experience such a ride from a car or certainly a motor home, the way you can on a motor cycle, the smell of fresh air, the colours, the wind on your face. We made several stops to take pictures of the smokey mountain range and it was nearly lunch time before we reached Cherokee. There we took time to stroll through the Cherokee Voices Festival, chatting with various native crafts people who were demonstrating their crafts, before filling up both the bike and our stomachs in preparation for the rest of the journey. It was still another hour ride before we reached the beginning of our destination — Deals Gap.

Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee

Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee

Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee

Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee

On our Way to Deals Gap

On our Way to Deals Gap

Native Potter, Cherokee Voices Festival

Native Potter, Cherokee Voices Festival

Basket Weaver, Cherokee Voices Festival

Basket Weaver, Cherokee Voices Festival

Elder Potter, Cherokee Voices Festival

Elder Potter, Cherokee Voices Festival

When we finally reached Deals Gap and the beginning of the Tail of the Dragon run, we found ourselves among many, many bikers. Thankfully today, there were no fools riding, at least not that we know about. Sadly, there have been many lives lost on this route because of careless riders who want to see how fast they can do it.  The curves and road grades require respect. We took our time and enjoyed the ride.

Deals Gap

Deals Gap

Tree of Shame

Tree of Shame. Foolishness is not encouraged. These bikes didn’t make it.

Caution at Deals Gap

Caution at Deals Gap

Enjoying the ride on The Tail of the Dragon

Enjoying the ride on The Tail of the Dragon

We were exhausted by the time we arrived back at camp at five in the afternoon, but it was an amazing trip.