Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wet Tennessee

I am sitting in the "upstairs" of our camper (our bed) writing this blog post on a very rainy Tuesday from our campground at the KOA in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Outside it's pouring down rain, it's our third day of rain since we left Chesapeake, Virginia. It's times like this when Kathy and I agree that a larger RV would really be nice. With only 2-1/2 feet by 8 feet of floor space things get tight for 4 people when you have no where else to go.

A wet welcoming to Tennessee
 Yet despite the wet weather, we've enjoyed the past few days. Our first stay was at the Cades Cove campground in the middle of Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We arrived at the campground late on Sunday night with the rain coming down hard outside. The drive up to Cades Cove is a long windy road narrow mountain road. The sort of road that is used in BMW and Audi commercials that looks like so much fun to drive (if it's not dark, rainy, and you are actually in a new sporty BMW or Audi and not in a Ford F350 with a camper in your truck bed). Although the campground was mostly open, the ranger station was closed and the camp store was closing the day after we arrived. That night we debated heading what ever direction necessary to get to dry weather. One of the advantages of having your home completely mobile and having no immediate plans; one of the advantages we hadn't yet used.
Our rig was a tight fit on the road up to Cades Cove
The next morning the weather was nicer, so we decided to explore the 11 mile loop road of Cades Cove. The loop took us the better part of the afternoon and gave us the opportunity to explore over 300 years of Tennessee mountain settlements, along with getting to see numerous Thanksgiving survivor turkeys (hunting isn't permitted in National Parks) and white tale deer that were fearless (even of our truck and camper). We had planned to complete the loop and head to the Southern end of the park in North Carolina, but our tour had taken too long so instead we opted to move to a less privative campground in Pigeon Forge.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park family pic!
John Oliver's cabin in Cades Cove

Fearless wildlife in Cades Cove
The town of Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood, along with countless other tourist attractions. Luckily Dollywood was closed today, our one day we had to explore the amusement park, otherwise we would have spent a large sum of money to spend a day at this park in the pouring rain (and even with the rain we still would have love(d) every moment). Instead we opted to visit Wonder Works and have lunch next door at the Hard Rock Cafe. We had no idea what to expect at Wonder Works (we actually originally thought it was a hotel), but we were blown away, we all had a lot of fun. It was kind of like a very interactive science museum combined with an arcade (which is covered with your admission price).
Siena takes a nap at Wonder Works
Not sure about this place we are about to visit
Astronaut Nadia at Wonder Works

Siena on the 4 level high ropes course at Wonder Works
As for lunch, it had been years since Kathy or I had been in a Hard Rock Cafe, and as we came to the door there was a sign saying that they would be closing at 2pm (we arrived at 1:10 pm). Lunch was good, but as we were eating a band was setting up and getting ready for the upcoming private party. The band turned out to be The Temptations (yes, those Temptations)! Although there is only one of the original members left, we could see they still had all the moves as they warmed up with this tune.

The Temptations warming up
So yes it's a wet rainy miserable night, but so far we've had a pretty incredible time in Tennessee, and honestly the weather kind of reminds us of home. And to all my doubter Seattle friends, I have to tell you Pigeon Forge and Dollywood are a family fun wonderland on a scale I have never seen anywhere in the western USA. If your are adventurous and open minded, it's totally worth a family vacation!

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