Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Leaving Pigeon Forge

All righty, time has flown and I have no idea where it went. If anyone finds time cowering under a rock, would you send it my way? I need more of it.

Anyway, when last I stopped writing, I had fallen asleep (relatively easily, thanks to lemon vodka) in the Vacation Lodge on the last night of our long weekend in Sevigeonburgville.

It occurs to me that I have not explained "Sevigeonburgville." See, it used to be you could go to the Smokies and see three separate towns named Sevierville (hometown of Dolly Parton), Pigeon Forge (home of the Pigeon Forge Pottery), and Gatlinburg (home of... nothing). A really, really long time ago, someone decided the answer to poverty in the Smokies was to turn it into a tourist destination. Gatlinburg started the mess, building a whole gob of wedding chapels and adding fake Alpine-style gingerbread to the corners of buildings, adding a "ski resort" (snort), and opening several fudge-making emporiums.

When Gatlinburg started getting visitors, Pigeon Forge decided this whole tourism thing sounded like a grand idea, so they picked up where Gatlinburg left off and went for the glitzier, more glamourous and potentially lucrative theme than "Alpine in the Smokies". Yep. Pigeon Forge really wanted to get the go-karts and kiddie rides tourist market. Silver Dollar City was built in the 1970's, I think, adding a "theme park" to the mix. It was all ultra-cheezy. Then the owners of the Silver Dollar City theme parks hired Dolly Parton to be the figurehead of the Pigeon Forge themepark, and a whole new mecca of cheezy attractions was born.

I remember with fondness the way my mother spoke of Pigeon Forge in the 1950's, when she and my father were still newlyweds and would go to the Pigeon Forge Pottery to look at the pottery that they couldn't afford, and then would walk the banks of the Little Pigeon River, searching for arrowheads. Daddy found a lot of arrowheads up there. Knowing what we know today about archeology, he should have left them there, but he didn't. I have them in a little box in my lockbox. They're cool. I bet you couldn't find an arrowhead in the Little Pigeon River now if your life depended on it.

After Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge established themselves as cheezy tourist hells complete with more plastic, lit-up signage per capita than any other town north of Panama City Beach, the hotel and outlet-mall building craze spilt over into Sevierville. Sevierville has no discernible tourist destinations other than outlet malls. One of them has a large scrapbook store. I'm not actually fond of that scrapbook store, but that's because I'm spoiled by the splendid one in Knoxville -- Scrapbooks & More. Even though they use the adjective "super" in their name, the scrapbook store in Sevierville is not really super. They're kind of mediocre. But I don't think "Scrapbook MediocreStore" would work as well as "Scrapbook SuperStore" works in terms of getting customers in the doors.

So after Gatlinburg built all those wedding chapels and Alpine-inspired fudge shoppes, after Pigeon Forge built a replica mill and a whole bunch of go-kart tracks, and after Sevierville built motels and outlet malls galore, they melded together in a seamless megalopolis that they all refuse to acknowledge as a megalopolis. However, we, the Loftis clan, know a megalopolis when it bites us upon the derriere. Ergo, we have merged the names of three towns into what they are now: Sevigeonburgville.

And I gaze upon the fudge, and I know that the fudge is good.

Listen, if you want to know what the Smoky Mountains are *really* supposed to be like, go to Cades Cove. I wish they would implement an electric trolley for tours through the Cades Cove loop -- the gasoline engines of hundreds of thousands of tourists per year are wrecking the delicate eco-system of the Smoky Mountains. But if you can, go to Cades Cove and see what heaven looks like. I cannot begin to describe the beauty. I don't know how the government ever coaxed the original (sort of original) inhabitants of that valley out of their homes. It is the most gorgeous piece of earth. And, oh, I wish I lived there. I would gladly give up electricity for the chance. It's just glorious.

Anyway, I was snoozing away in the lovely Vacation Lodge that happy Sunday night, and I was warm enough, and if Wesley was disturbed by my snoring and if he thwacked me to make me stop, I was so tired that I didn't even notice it.

As a result, when I awoke Monday morning, I felt refreshed and ready to pack. Hooo, boy! Packing and going home!!! My favorite activity!!!! I was anxious to see how the birds and cat had fared in our absence, and I was nearly desperate to play with my paper and ink pads!

Wesley made coffee in the little coffee maker, and we drank it while throwing things merrily into suitcases or laundry bags. Even the kids helped with our cleaning projects! After several trips to the car, and several repeat-sweeps of the room to make sure we got everything, absolutely *everything* that belonged to us, we were on our way to the office for our official checking out!!!!!

[Note: Even with repeated checks and re-checks to ensure we got everything, I left a Rubbermaid box of Oreos in the cabinet under the sink in the kitchenette. Dang it!!!]

We had several restaurant-type establishments from which to choose for breakfast, but instead of going to a locally-owned and operated place (which we usually do when we're in Sevigeonburgville), we opted for... Cracker Barrel. Why? Because I was craving some hashbrown casserole, that's why!

We were seated immediately, because it was mid-morning on a Monday in the mid-season. And because it was finally May, the specials all included strawberries in the titles. It took me and Woodrow about three seconds to decided we needed the big, special strawberry breakfast collection. I knew that we could probably share one and still be stuffed, but Woodrow is 12 and everything that implies. He dug in his heels and *insisted* that he should get his own breakfast. This particular special included 4 pancakes smothered in strawberries and whipped cream, 2 eggs, a breakfast meat, a side dish, and biscuits. OMG. Anyone in possession of their brain could tell you that this was going to be a huge meal. Still, Woodrow wouldn't share, so I got my own strawberry special along with Woodrow's strawberry special. I honestly cannot remember what Wesley and Emily got; whatever it was, it was perched on the corner of the table because my and Woodrow's breakfasts took up 89% of the table top's surface.

The coffee was predictable. The pancakes were scrumptious. (I managed to eat two.) The eggs were adequate; the sausage links were yummy, and the hashbrown casserole was manna from heaven. I could *live* on hashbrown casserole. It's a heart attack on a plate, and it is worth dying for.

Stuffed, we waddled out to the parking lot, climbed into our loaded car, and finally headed home. It had been a cold but lovely weekend, and as usual, our birds and cat were all fine when we finally returned to them. Even the Amazon parrot didn't bite me when I finally got back! I think he's mellowing out. I wish I could learn that trick!!!!

A summary of Sevigeonburgville thoughts in my next post, and then I can start writing about our upcoming next trips!


At 25/5/05 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your take on the towns! I would have loved to have seen it "back then" And yes...I'd love to be your neighbor in Cades Cove. That place ROCKS! We spent a fair amount of a day there last year. Our second it.

At 31/5/05 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes ... I remember the days of 3 separate towns. And ... I couldn't agree with you more about Cades Cove and hashbrown casserole!

At 8/1/06 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How true your comments on how it use to be! Have you seen the web site on the Pigeon Forge Pottery? It has some photos on how it use to be.

At 3/3/07 6:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great site » » »


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