Sunday, April 24, 2016

One last lazy day in Pigeon Forge


Slumber Party!

It was like a slumber party in our living room last weekend in Pigeon Forge – Casey loved hanging out with the boys!

Sunday started out as a lazy day . . . we went to church, and then came back to the RV Park where Tom and the boys did some cleaning up while I made Easter Bread for Nicolas to take home.

Tom and I visited with some new friends in the afternoon, while the boys went to play basketball at the park down the road.  Our plan was to go into town around 4pm to check out the new Island area of Pigeon Forge, they get some dinner and go to a show.  Nicolas was treating for Tom’s and my birthdays!

Unfortunately, we found out that most of the shows had been cancelled, due to low attendance because everybody was at the car show.  Well, that was a bummer!  At least we were able to enjoy a nice dinner at the Old Mill Restaurant.  Thanks Nicolas!

The Island


We needed to walk off some of that dinner then, so we headed over to the Island to walk through some of the shops.

They had some fun and interesting shops, but most seemed a little overpriced.

Giant Pizza Man

The center of the island was home to the giant ferris wheel, rock climbing walls, jumping pillows for the little kids, and a ropes course.

Ferris Wheel

As we finished up our shopping, people were beginning to gather for the fountain light show at sunset.  The setting looked beautiful, but the guys didn’t want to wait for it.

Sunset_April 17th

They wanted to play miniature golf, so we headed over to Ripley’s Old McDonald’s Farm Miniature Golf.

Mini Golf

We had sticker-shock at first, when we heard that the price was $13.99 per person for 1 round, or $14.99 for two rounds (I guess we haven’t play mini golf in a few years!), but after searching for a coupon, we found out that Nicolas could get a 50% military discount.  OK, that made it much more manageable!

Ripley's Mini Golf

We chose the most challenging course first, and got started.

Watching Dad


Bryce has a really interesting form!

Bryce's "unique" form

The boys were having a good time, and I was the first one to get a hole in one – Mom skills!  But I fell apart after that!


It wasn’t a really challenging course, but it was fun.

The Dairy Barn

The cows are watching us











There were plenty of fun obstacles!

Silly Obstacles



On the final hole of the first round, Nicolas managed to get a hole in one,

18th Hole

and he won the round!

The rest of us weren’t so lucky . . .


During round 2, Tom finally got his first hole in one,

Tom finally got a hole in one!

but nobody could keep up with Bryce who got 5 holes in one, and killed the rest of us on the round!

Nicolas concentrating

It was a fun way to spend our last evening in Pigeon Forge, and reminded up of many of our camping trips when the boys were young!

We were so happy to have this long weekend with Nicolas, but the next morning he and Casey had to head back to Charleston and we were headed back north for the summer.  Bye Nick – See you again soon!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pigeon Forge Rod Run 2016

041616_Rod Run

The Rod Run didn’t officially start until Friday, but there were already a lot of cars in town when we arrived on Thursday, and after getting some dinner at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, we cruised along the Parkway a few times.

Lawns become parking lots

It was a beautiful evening, and we were enjoying our cruise with the top down on the Jeep, especially Bryce, our chauffer.


The Parkway was already getting crowded,

Bumper to Bumper traffic

Lots of traffic!










but nothing like later in the weekend!

The parking lots were starting to fill up, too,

Customer parking becomes a display area

but some of the cars were cruising while they still could!

Looks like Grandpa's!

One of several Rat Rods we saw










The guys did some more cruising on Friday after dinner, but I didn’t go with them, and Saturday was our “Car Day” . . . all day!

We lucked out and found a shady parking spot at a bank at the far end of the Parkway, and from there we walked . . . and walked!

Nicolas was so tempted by the Mustangs!

Checking out the Bugs!










There were so many cars to look at . . . and most of them had “For Sale” signs or prices in their windows.

Hmmm . . . I think that might be a little faster than a Bug!

Bryce still likes his Bugs, but is starting to feel a need for speed, too!

Vintage Bug


I like the pretty colors and unique vehicles . . . like this one!

That's an interesting way to get around!

There were lots of pretty cars!

I like the little monkey!

Purple - I like that one!










I find myself drawn to orange cars . . .

Some of them are just so cute – old station wagons,

Old station wagons

beach buggies,

Cool surfer wagon

Dune Buggy









and Hippie Busses!

Spider Hippie Van

There were several Jeeps – this was probably the prettiest one,

That's a cool-looking Jeep!

and this was probably the oldest!

That's an old one!











We walked along the Parkway on one side of the road until we reached the point where the guys had walked to the night before, then we crossed the road and walked back the other way.  we stopped at Baskin-Robbins for some ice cream, where we got the skimpiest cones we’ve ever had!

There were lines of cars in every parking lot,

Classic Car Show Pose

Almost matching











and some of the hotels gave their guests premium space along their driveways and on the lawns.

A beautiful day for a car show!

Nicolas could have walked and looked at cars forever . . . but I was done!  I left them to continue walking, while I went back to the Jeep to sit in the shade and read a book on my phone.

A few more of their favorites . . .

Tommy's Rod Shop

Big Orange Truck











That's a different color!

The boys love the old Broncos











Baby Firetruck

It was an absolutely beautiful day, and the guys were in their glory with all that shiny metal around!

Trucks in a row

Monday, April 18, 2016

Exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park


So, the real reason that we turned back south after leaving Monaco (besides escaping the cold weather!), was so that we could meet Nicolas in Pigeon Forge for the Spring Rod Run . . . which just happened to coincide with his four day weekend.

We arrived at Creekside RV around noon and got set up.

Creekside RV Resort

Nicolas and Casey arrived a few hours later.

Nicolas checking out the Jeep











Casey looks happy to be camping again

Nicolas wasn’t going to be able to put up his tent at this RV Park, so they would be spending the weekend in the motorhome with us.  So, to minimize shedding, Casey got her “summer cut” last week . . . she looks pretty good!

Most of Nicolas’ agenda for the weekend centered around the Rod Run, but he also wanted to do some hiking in the National Park and pick up his new annual military pass.  We decided to do that on Friday morning. while may of the cars were still arriving in Pigeon Forge.

We drove to the Sugarlands Visitor Center to pick up a map and Nicolas’s pass, and to decide which area of the park to explore.

Smoky Mountains - early Spring

Exploring in the Jeep











We’ve done the Cades Cove Loop several times, as well as Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome, so we decided to try something new – the Roaring Fork Nature Drive.

It’s a one-way, narrow winding road that climbs the mountain . . . so it sounded like a fun challenge for the Jeep!  Bryce was determined to do the driving!

Narrow, winding road

Not a very wide road!











Do they really share the same genes?

As we followed the trail up the mountain, we stopped at a few overlooks, and about half way around we reached the trail for Grotto Falls.

There are several waterfalls in this area, and we chose Grotto Falls because the trail was just about 1.5 miles each way, and rated “just” moderate.

Lots of other people apparently had the same idea – the parking lot was full when we got to it . . .but we have a Jeep now . . . who needs a parking lot!!??!!


We did a little rock climbing, and got the Jeep parked off the side of the road.

The entire trail was uphill

The trail to Grotto Falls


The trail was all uphill, with lots of obstacles – rocks and tree roots – LOTS of interesting tree roots!

We definitely had to be careful – especially me!







Crazy tree roots


The boys were having fun,

Bryce - always up for a challenge!


Nicolas said the water was COLD!


running and jumping, climbing on stuff – I don’t know where they get the energy!  Tom and I continued at our own pace . . .








My three guys

As we neared the waterfall, Nick and Bryce decided to take a side trail down to the bottom of the falls.

Climbingdown to the bottom of the falls

They made it to the bottom,

They made it!

and then climbed back up again!

Grotto Falls



We reached the top of the lower falls, and as we crested to top of the trail, we became aware of just how many people were there ahead of us!

And we reached the waterfall!

What a crowd!

Tom and the boys went behind the falls, but I stayed back because it was a pretty slippery, rocky path. 

Really, Nicolas is there!!  He’s behind the water!

Nicolas is hiding behind the water!

We did get a family picture alongside the stream,


and a selfie in front of the waterfall!


Whew!  After making it up, we needed to make our way back down!  We got back to the Jeep with no mishaps, and had our lunch on the rock that we had driven over.

Following the stream



The rest of the nature drive was more winding, narrow road as we followed the water down the mountain, and passed a few old buildings.







Cabin in the woods

More cabins










After completing the Nature Drive, we continued along the river through the park towards Wears Valley and Townsend, to take the back way into Pigeon Forge.

Smoky Mountains

Along the river











There were even some Rod Runners enjoyed this beautiful day in the park!









Bryce and Nick like the old Broncos!


Even with the early-Spring lack of foliage, it was a beautiful drive!

Following the river now















We somehow missed the turn that would have taken us on the shorter route through Wears Valley,

Found a Jeep Shop!


so we ended up enjoying an additional 8 miles of winding, twisting roads (which Bryce loved!), but the bonus was stumbling on a Jeep Shop in the little town of Townsend!

It was a cute shop, and we were able to pick up two of the hand-holds that we were missing in the Jeep and Tom got some information on accessories and tow bars which will come in handy!




It was a really nice day, and after dinner the guys still had time to cruise the Parkway, checking out some of the cool old cars!