Saturday, June 18, 2011

Looking Back Part 2: The Day Before

It was a good thing Chris quickly recovered from his stomach virus because our second day in Tennessee was a busy one.  We started off the day with our first breakfast at the lodge and that is when I realized that the trip was well worth it.  We had a 3 course breakfast every morning that included some type of home made sweet bread, fresh fruit with yogurt, and a main course.  The main courses ranged from pancakes to eggs and bacon to stuffed french toast.  This was some of the best food I had ever tasted.

Once we completed breakfast, it was time to head to town to take care of some very important business: getting our marriage license.  One of the great things about Sevier County is that, like Las Vegas, it is considered a tourist wedding location so getting a marriage license there is a simple and inexpensive task.  We had applied online about month in advance which meant we were only in the courthouse about fifteen minutes finishing up the paperwork.
Once we were done with that, we decided to head to Gatlinburg for lunch and some shopping.  While in Gatlinburg, I got to take Chris to his first Hard Rock Cafe.  Now I have been to Hard Rocks all over from New Orleans to New York to Paris to London to Honolulu.  I couldn't believe Chris had never been to one before.
We also took time to visit the Aquarium while we were in Gatlinburg.  They had a fun exhibit of penguins with this tunnel you could climb through so you could see the penguins up close.  The tunnel was supposed to be just for kids but Chris and I both got into the fun although we got a little nervous when we saw a man ahead of us in the tunnel who was probably about 6'5" and pushing 300 lbs.  He made it through OK but I couldn't help to think he would get stuck.  (I think he was nervous too.)  The picture of both of us in the tunnel didn't turn out great since they were cleaning the inside of the playhouse at the time the photo was snapped.
 
The best part of the trip to Gatlinburg was the drive from Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg.  You got to pass through a portion of the Smokey Mountain Trail and it was just simply lovely.  Chris wished we had a dashboard cam so we could capture the drive because he wanted to remember it.  I fully expect that we will go back one day and really soak in the trail so we can get some photographs of the fabulous scenery there.

After spending the afternoon in Gatlinburg, we headed back to Pigeon Forge because we had tickets to Dixie Stampede that evening.  However, we had some time to kill before the show began and that is when we discovered the Rocky Top Wine Trail.  We had seen one of the wineries on the way into town the night before so we decided to swing in there to see if we could pick out a bottle for the wedding the next day.  While we were there, we discovered that there were 2 other wineries in town and we would get a free wine glass if we completed tasting at all 3 wineries and had our passport stamped.  Never one to pass up a challenge we decided to go for it.  After picking out the Mountain Valley Blush for our wedding toast, we headed to the next winery on the list: the Apple Barn Vineyard.  It was at the Apple Barn that we overheard another couple talking about being from Texas.  We struck up a conversation with them and learned that they were from Waco and they were visiting friends who had moved to the area because they were performing in the shows at the Miracle Theatre.  After visiting with them, Chris and I decided to call in a favor to Mom and Dad who were heading to Pigeon Forge to be guests at our wedding.  They got us four tickets to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the next evening after the ceremony.
At this point it was time to battle the traffic through downtown Pigeon Forge to head to Dixie Stampede.  For those of you who don't know, Dolly Parton was born in raised in Sevier County.  She is probably the area's biggest celebrity and she does a lot to try to give back to the community there.  That is why both Dixie Stampede and Dollywood can be found in Pigeon Forge.  Our B&B was actually two miles up the mountain from Dollywood.  The first night we drove up there, we got in the wrong lane and almost ended up in the parking lot for the park.  There is also a statue of Dolly in front of the courthouse.  After hearing everyone talk about her, I gained a new level of respect for Dolly.
The show at Dixie Stampede was better than I expected it to be.  They had a great little pre-show with a trio that played all kinds of classic country music.  Then the show itself was extremely patriotic and was set in the Civil War era.  I was a little disturbed at the lack of silverware during the meal and even asked the waiter for some utensils.  Apparently that is a frequent question at the show and I was told I didn't need utensils.  For someone who doesn't like to get her hands dirty, the whole eating with my fingers bothered me a lot but I got over it and the food was pretty good.  By the time the show was over, I think Chris and I were both sufficiently exhausted.  We headed back to the lodge where we crashed for the evening.  After all, we had a big day ahead of us on Saturday!

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