Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slide Show From Our Trip!

We needed a vacation! So we up and took one! Off to Biltmore we went, via Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC. I was pretty worried about the scenic byway from Gatlinburg to Cherokee but didn't want to miss Santa's Land so I sucked it up and went anyway! The roads turned out to be better than I had imagined and I never even had to use the motion sickness medicine I went armed with! On the way down we stopped in Corbin, KY, home of the original Kentucky Fried Chicken. The building is now a museum/restaurant combo and I'm quite glad we didn't miss it! Especially the chocolate chip cookies!

We changed our accommodations in Gatlinburg prior to our trip after friends recommended the Gatlinburg Inn, one of the original hotels built in the 1940s. Last remodel was late 1960s early 1970s. All in all, it wasn't bad, except for the horrible mattress. It was a rock and coming off a water bed I have issues anyway! I woke up all night long and finally attempted to pad myself with pillows. The ambiance was retro with a capital R and we got a huge kick out of having a real key to open our room door! I confess, I snatched the Do Not Disturb/Maid Service sign from the door because it too was retro and I really needed it!

We had a little time the next morning to catch a glimpse of Gatlinburg and all its tackiness. It and Pigeon Forge are just quirky enough to warrant an extended stay some other time! We didn't take the time to eat at the legendary Pancake Pantry but we snapped a picture.

On to Cherokee via the Great Smoky Mtns. National Park. Windy roads and scenery pretty much describes it! It was much cooler up there in the mts and I kept changing my pants; over the course of the day I wore shorts, capris and jeans at one time or another! We drove into Cherokee and it was Gatlinburg on a much smaller scale but with more of an Indian theme! The Hampton Inn there was definitely a step up from the Gatlinburg Inn, especially the bed! We took pictures of old signs as we made our way to Santa's Land, the real reason we were even there in the first place! It was all we expected and more! Circa 1966. The buildings and concrete characters get a fresh coat of paint every spring but other than that it was pretty much as it was back in the day!

We acted like little kids and jumped into Santa's sleigh, sat on the REAL Santa's lap, rode the little train, took a helicopter ride, looked at wild animals, did the paddle boats and got our money's worth! Tim road the Rudicoaster but I wimped out at the last minute! The highlight of the day, other than the baby bear cub bottle feeding session, had to be the souvenirs we found in the gift shop on close out! Most were from the 1960s and 1970s! The sweet manager even went back to the warehouse and dug out more for us! We left with a boxful.

Dinner that night was at Paul's where we had "the best cheeseburgers" and were enjoying the nice breeze while we ate on the front porch until our alarm company called. House alarm had gone off and I had to call our house/cat sitter. There I was smack dab in the middle of the Smoky Mts. barely getting cell phone service and having to deal with all that drama. At that point, I realized that one just simply cannot get away and have a relaxing vacation! Our sweet neighbor ran back down to our house and couldn't find a thing out of whack. I called ADT back and they went through the list of what could have set it off from a moving curtain to a bug. (Upon our return, I immediately discovered bird poop and realized we'd had a BIRD in the house! Tim found the ex-bird the next morning in his editing room, ick!)

Sunday morning we checked out after a nice breakfast and headed to Asheville. More windy roads! We found a small scrapbook store in Maggie Valley and the most crowded book store in the whole entire world! It was a hoarder's heaven! Unfortunately, the prices were high and it smelled musty. I still found a bagful and the experience was priceless!

We finally arrived in Asheville about noon and checked into the Inn on Biltmore Estate. Just sounds fancy doesn't it? It was! Then we hightailed it over to the Estate where we met up with our neighbors who just happened to be there at the very same time! We got a group shot but I don't have it yet so I will post later! Too fun though! Tim and I went ahead and toured the GIANT MANSION and then took a specialty tour called Behind the Scenes. That place is really something! And hot! Let me tell ya, NOWHERE in any literature or website or anything did anyone mention that there was no A/C!!!!! Hello! It was rather toasty outside and I was dressed for the usual Siberia I find inside buildings in the summer! That was rough but they did at least have fans and open windows.

We dined at Texas Roadhouse for supper after going 'round and 'round with the concierge trying to find a place to eat! She just didn't seem to understand that the on site restaurants weren't for me and I wasn't too interested in paying $12 for a cheeseburger. Dinner was fab as always! And we found out that Andie McDowell lives in town.

We went back to the Inn and sat outside on the back terrace for a bit. Can we say view? Wowzer.

The next morning we treated ourselves to the breakfast buffet in the dining room. Yummo. Best $46 breakfast ever! Then on to the Estate again via our included shuttle service. Tim went through the house once more and I read a book in the old converted stables after hitting the gift shop. We toured the gardens and I snapped a really nice picture of a bee on a flower. I'm really excited about that! I'm really glad I didn't get stung! We took another tour called Family and Friends and were able to see more rooms that weren't open for the regular tour as well as period clothing and such.

And guess what we did for supper that night? We met my mom and aunt at Vinnie's for the best NY style pizza we've had since Mama's in Tucson! Yeah, they just happened to be in town passing through from Georgia! Too fun! We also got to see the beautiful B&B they were staying at!

Tuesday was shop Asheville day. I imagine we were the only guests in The Inn's history who had the concierge mapquest every thrift store in town...her fleeting expression was priceless I must say! I told her that's what we like to do. So, armed with our mapquest directions we ventured out beyond the gates to thrift and go antiquing after filling our bellies once again with yet another delicious breakfast! In the end, we hit far more antique malls and shops than thrift stores and didn't get to half of the ones on the list! Found some goodies though and had a blast! Had a yummy dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and then I beat Tim at a mean game of Travel Battleship (He's still never won a game of Battleship in the 11 years we've known each other! I rule the Battleship waters!)

The next day it was time already to pack up and leave NC! We actually pulled away at 8:30 am and arrived home in New Albany exactly 12 1/2 hours later. (It's only a 6 hour drive) We were doing pretty well, stopping only to get a picture of the Thacker Christmas Inn sign until we hit Clinton, TN. There we managed to kill four hours at the antique shops. And most were closed because it was Wednesday which I was very whiny about! We had also planned to stop at the Parkette Drive In in Lexington, KY on the way home but the woman at AAA gave us directions to a residential neighborhood instead of the correct directions. They are going to get an earful about that in the very near future!

We finally arrived home to our kitties, emptied the entire car and collapsed! Still going through the stuff that came back with us but will post some pictures soon! And, we forgot to take our feathers so there are no Wigwamers Do Cherokee or Wigwamers Do Biltmore pictures which is very, very sad.

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