Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wednesday evening in Gatlinburg.

After freshenin' up at the hotel, Denise and I drove over to Mushy and Judy's place and loaded up in the truck for a trip to Gatlinburg.

They took us on a circuitous route through the beautiful Smokey Mountains so they could show us the wonderful scenery they're fortunate to live in, but also to avoid the regular traffic headed to the tourist mecca of Gatlinburg.

I think they were reluctant to go there, describing it as the sort of place tourists flock to but locals don't really spend much time in. But Denise's daughter Lynn had honeymooned there a few years earlier and she wanted to see the place. I wanted Denise to have a great time there in Tennessee, and I knew that sending her off to shop while I spent quality time with Mushy wasn't gonna cut it. So we floated the idea and Mushy and Judy were gracious enough to go along with it. Of course, in the end it turned out to be a huge amount of fun.

We stopped briefly along the way at a place called "The Sinks". Mushy told us the story about how he'd tubed this river when he was younger, starting out by jumping off this ledge. He claims he almost died because he jumped in with the tube under him. I guess the fall and the shock could have broken his neck. Glad that didn't happen. I'd be a sad little puppy today without his influence in my life.

We got to see folks jumping in the water from the same spot he jumped from while we were there. I gotta tell ya, it was tempting. I LOVE that sort of thing. It's a spectacular place, with scenes of natural beauty everywhere you turn. I took lots of pictures of the river and the falls...

And Mushy took a picture of me, takin' pictures. Yep, stealin' again. That's me in my summer uniform: t-shirt (usually), shorts and Tevas. As far as foot wear are concerned, I wear almost nothin' but those sandals when I'm not workin'. If I could wear 'em to work without causin' the administrators to have fits I would.

When I taught on the ships, back in the early '90s, I used to dress about like this most of the time. I had a Commander on a carrier once challenge me on the weather deck, while I was watching flight operations. He came out and looked me up and down and asked "Are you on vacation?" I told him who I was and what my job was, and then said "So, basically, YEA!" We both had a good laugh over it.

My camera was different then. I had a little Olympus Stylus that I'd picked up in Hong Kong. LOVED that little camera! May need to get the digital version some day.

I tried to get some good shots of the river as it winds through the rocks, flowing under the bridge. Some of them came out decent.

We could have spent all day there, and gone swimming, but in the end we got back into the truck and headed off to Gatlinburg.

Somewhere along the way I got this shot of a waterfall.

When we got to town I was amazed at how cool the place was. It's built to look like an alpine ski resort. Who'd a thunk it?

One of the first things we did was ride the ski lift up to the top of one of the mountains overlooking the town. As we rode up Denise made the mistake of reminding me that she's afraid of heights. I took GREAT pleasure in shimmyin' my hips a bit, movin' our little chair lift from side to side, ever so briefly, scarin' the absolute piss out of her! You see, she'd done the same thing to me earlier that day while we were riding in Ron's canoe. Paybacks are a... Well, you know.

On the ride up I looked back to where Mushy and Judy were and caught them takin' one of those one handed shots of one another.

Sure enough, he posts this picture on his blog later. Funny eh? We're some picture takin' fools, he and I. Our long sufferin' womens just put up with it.

We got to the top and found a wonderful view of the valley and surrounding mountains laid out before us. As you get to the top of the chair lift they take your picture. We ended up payin' for the thing, but now we can't find it anywhere. One of these days it'll turn up and I'll scan it.

We spent enough time up there to use the facility and grab an Ice cream, courtesy of my little sweetie. Then we got back on the chair lift for the ride back down.

On the way back I got this hilarious one handed shot showing just how nervous Denise was in that chair lift, particularly going back down. I'm just chewin' away at my ice cream stick, casual as all get out. Meanwhile she's holdin' on for dear life and tryin' not to look down. I can't remember if I did the hip shimmy again on the way down or not, but I'd bet money I did. I'm mean like that.

When we got down we passed by a place called Star Cars that intrigued me, and I had to check it out. I payed my ticket and went in while Mushy and the girls checked out the shops nearby.

I got in there and found all sorts of cool rides, like the "Bandit", from... Do I even have to tell ya?

And the Shelby GT500 Mustang, "Eleanor", from the last remake of "Gone in 60 seconds". Friggin' thing is missing a few headlights, but what the hell. Very cool!

No doubt though, for a guy from my generation of late Baby Boomers, the coolest ride in the place was definitely the Mach 5. Go Speed Racer Go! Man, I used to LOVE that show! They had lots of other stuff in there too, but I think this is the one I'd wanna drive away in. Damn, what a cool piece of work!

They had cars from M*A*S*H, Back to the Future, James Bond, Knight Rider, Jurassic Park, The Beverly Hillbillies and even Barney Fife's squad car from The Andy Griffith Show, but these are the three above that stood out to me.

Next we rode the big ski lift up to the very top of everything, called "Uber Gatlinburg". When you get up there they take your picture again.

Yep, we bought one, and then Mushy scanned it when we got back to his place. Don't know where the hell that thing is ether.

We checked out the t-shirt shops and the ice skating rink up there. It's always fun to watch people who can really move out on those skates. So elegant. Nice breeze comin' off that thing too.

We sat down in a bar up there and had a few more Yuenglings while we decided what else we were gonna do. Denise and I decided to go get on that rockin' Pirate Ship thing you see over Mushys shoulder. I was like, "You wanna do that?", and she said "Yea, it looks like fun.

We were about the only folks on the thing, sittin' all the way up on one end. When we got on the dude that was runnin' the ride told me that if we wanted him to stop, all I had to do was give him the signal. The thing is a huge puke generator, swinging back and forth. When you get to each end you get a few seconds of weightlessness. At one point the operator told us to raise our arms above our heads, which I proceeded to do. Thought I was gonna just shoot out the end and fly off the friggin' thing.

After about 5 minutes I asked Denise if she wanted off. the look on her face told me everything I needed to know, so I made the universal "cut it off", throat slashing sign. We stumbled back to where Mushy and Judy were watching and headed out to find the tram back down to the town. We picked up a few t-shirts along the way, but mostly, after that ride, we were done with Uber Gatlinburg.

By the time we got up there Judy was gettin' to like the "Shandy" that Denise was always orderin'. It's a mixture of Yuengling and 7-Up. Knowing what a purist Mushy is, I was lookin' forward to the day I got to make one for Denise in his kitchen. I expected loud protests and howlin'. He surprised me with his calm demeanor when he got to see this drama in action. It was surprisingly uneventful. He even sipped it and said it was OK. I'm sure he was just bein' nice. Just tastes like 7-Up to me.

So, we rode the tram back down to town and walked over to a nice fancy restaurant called The Peddler. This is one of those places where they roll a slab of meat over to your table and you tell them where to cut it. I had a thick, wonderful steak, and Denise had a pitiful little chicken breast. When her plate arrived we all looked at it in shock. It was such a sad little thing, and cost so damn much money. My steak was wonderful. Thick and juicy. No complaints from me. The Beer, I think a Yuengling Black & Tan on draft, was wonderful!

The waiter had us go ahead and visit the salad bar before we ordered our meals. That turned out to be really smart, because I think we all got loaded on the salad bar. After gorging ourselves on the main course we piled back in the truck and Mushy drove us back to Harriman.

It'd been a wonderful trip. On the way home I started thinkin' about how much gas he'd used to drive us all over the place that day, and offered to fill his tank. It never even occurred to me that I could have bought their meal at The Peddler.

I'm used to fighting with guys like Mushy and my cousin Bob to let me pay for stuff on these trips. They always wanna get every bill. I guess I was on the defensive, thinkin' how cool it was that we were splittin' everything without havin' a fight about it. Anyway, I wasn't thinkin', and I owe them big time. Next time it'll be on me.

We drove through the real shopping areas on the way home and the girls were oohing and aahing over the outlet mall action. At one point Mushy pointed out the Smokey Mountain Knife Works store to me and I coulda shit a brick. I used to get their catalog all the time, and have ordered knives from them many times. I carry an old Case peanut that I got from them back in the 1980s. THAT friggin' place is gonna get RAIDED the next time we come to town. Fer sure.

Anyway, we went back to their place and spent a little time on the porch, listenin' to tunes. Eventually Denise and I headed back to the hotel. I was thinkin' the visit was comin' to an end. The plan then was to have lunch with Mushy and Judy and some others at Wild Wings the next day and then bug out for Memphis in the afternoon. Thinkin' it was my last night there with my buddy, I was a very sad puppy when I left there that evening.

I think Denise sensed that. When we woke up the next morning she leaned over me in bed and asked me if I wanted to stay another day and delay our departure till Friday morning. I started to cry like a baby. Mushy called at some point, wonderin' where the hell we were, and I told him the good news.

We had one more day to have some fun, and fun we did have, but that's another post. Cheers.


Hammer said...

Nice! I didn't know there was a real Mach V

BRUNO said...

CARS, dude! MORE CARS, please...!!!

Chuck said...

I love it! I've been to all those places and I've had some good fun at that skating rink at Ober Gatlinburg. Was even on that ski lift back in April of '06 with my kids and posted pics and a video. That area is definitely a fun place to visit!

Suldog said...

Man, I love places like "The Sunks". There's a stretch of the Kancamagus River in New Hampshire that's like that, and I love swimming there. I like going against the flow and pretending I'm a big ol' salmon fighting his way upstream :-)

As for the chair lift, if you did a hip shimmy with ME in there, I'd have to at least try to throw you over. I hate open heights.

Nice pics, nice memories. Thanks for sharing them.

Mushy said...

Made me hungry for the Peddler all over again. I guess I'll hit the buffet at Calhoun's tomorrow to make up for it!

One little correction..."The Sinks", but who's counting!

You owe me nothing dude...I probably owe you!

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Hammer - Yea man, the recently made a movie, but I never saw it.

Bruno - Well then, OK, If I must.

Chuck - Dude, I'm stealin' that video, if I can figure out how.

Sully - Yea, if we hadn't been all gussied up and goin' to the big city, I'd a been jumpin' in there myself. It looked cool as hell.

Mushy - Shit! I knew that was "The Sinks". Must have looked at that a hundred times and read "The Sinks". Sucks to be illiterate.

And yea, postin' these brings back all the gastronomical delights. I miss them all, but I'm drowning my sorrows in our local fare, and home made treats.

And lets not go into who owes who. I got debts I can never pay.