Head for the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Biltmore Estate for some wonderful colours although we are told they will be at their best in about a week’s time – shame.
We travelled two years ago ( http://www.thereadrovers.worpdpress.com ) down from the North along the Blue Ridge Parkway as far as the Blowing Rock area at about the same time of year so knew what to expect and again, it didn’t dissappoint.
The Parkway is, quite correctly, a slow moving road following the Appalachian trail North East to South West (or vice versa) with loads of stop off places to look out at the stunning scenery.
Unfortunately the drinks & refreshment areas are few and far between and also very popular with (on this occasion) a wait of 60 minutes for a table for lunch. Thus, our stop at the Pisgah Inn was only fleeting and just encompassed enough time for a few photos of even more trees.
This does let the whole experience down somewhat and to quench our thirst we headed off the Parkway to find lunch, found at the Imperial in the nearby Mill town of Canton who are also entering into the spirit of Halloween.
Off to the Smokey Mountains leaving behind the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appellation Mountains – did I see the join between the two, no I didn’t!
The road was, for American roads, exceptionally twisty but with little traffic on the road leading into Gatlinburg, progress was good and we soon cross the state line into Tennessee.
Settle into Eight Gables B & B, shaped as an Octagonal building, and head to nearby Pigeon Forge as we are told Gatlinburg is a bit like Blackpool.
What we didn’t know is that the traffic in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is horrendous, we move at an average speed of about 5mph for about 20 minutes.
Decide to get tickets for a show at Pigeon Forge the following night and head back to Gatlinburg for a meal in a lively, sort of an Irish Bar, all dressed up for Halloween followed by a walk around the town stopping in the Moonshine shop.
Moonshine prices are high at $25 a bottle but no use us buying as we can’t take it back with us and the bottles are too big.
Head to a craft trail around Gatlinburg but give up after a few stops, nothing overly interesting although I find a photographer who prints onto Aluminium and who has taken some interesting scene shots locally.
A vast craft fair is on at the local sports centre which takes a good couple of hours to get around and from which we buy a kitchen knife and some paintings for Clearwell.
Totally confused by the parking arrangements as you have to put the coins in specific slots for each car parking space – shame the numbers on the spaces and on the box were virtually non existent, surprised I didn’t get a ticket.
Queue up for about 20 mins for chair lift to Ober Gatlinburg only to be told it would be another 40 mins to get on to the gondola.
Still, buy tickets but for tomorrow, to save queues and head for a nearby mini chairlift for a Panoramic view of Gatlinburg.
Back down, and head back to B & B for rest pre meal at Hard Rock Cafe and show at adjacent theatre which is called an Opry, which is so called for reasons best known to the Americans. ( The word Opry is a diminutive form of the word opera, coined by broadcaster George D. Hay in 1927 – wikipedia. )
The show was a good variety type show with a comedian, dancers and singers especially the first half, the 2nd half turning a bit gospel and patriotic though – still a good evening which is more than can be said for the evening meal at the adjacent Hard Rock Cafe.
Somewhat surprisingly, the show included a caged lion – not sure that would be allowed anywhere near our shores these days.
The previous evening’s meal at the Hard Rock Cafe has left it’s mark with both Sally & Sylvia not overly well during the night but recovered well enough for a little breakfast this morning before we head off.
Sadly leaving our B & B, it is frosty this morning, and go back into Gatlinburg, past the Peel car – the smallest car in the world when it was built and a product of the Isle of Man – where we live, and take the cable car to Ober Gatlinburg and then the chair lift to top of mountain.
No queue at all today and we more or less head straight for a very cold ride in the chair lift to the top of Mount Harrison.
Some lovely houses near the cable car but at the top, nothing really there except a small food outlet with no room for seats, some good views and a country music trio!
Not exactly what you would expect to find at 3500 ft above sea level on a mountain top.
Head down to Ober Gatlinburg in a very cold wind, no bears seen though, past more Autumn foliage and some lovely mountainside properties and watch ice skaters on the indoor rink whilst drinking a not particularly refreshing cup of hot chocolate.
Not a hive of activity for a Sunday morning but maybe it would be livelier in the ski season.
That said, with the traffic problems that exist at the moment, I would not rush back even if I was a skier.
Return down to Gatlinburg and head off for Nashville, finding a Panera Bread on the way for our lunch.
Our B & B for the next two nights is the Daisy Hill B & B on the southern outskirts of Nashville. http://www.daisyhillbedandbreakfast.com
Linda, our hostess shows us around and emphasises that they have been open for 15 years. Bed is comfortable and our room has an attached ante room that doubles up as a Library and the room, although a bit dark does have a view of the rear garden with it’s overgrown flower beds, visiting Cardinal birds with their red feathers and two functioning water sprinklers. Public rooms include some large indoor plants that perhaps have seen better days. Coffee & tea available in the extension behind the kitchen.
On Linda’s recommendation we opt for diner out of town at the Tin Angel and despite it being a Sunday night, the restaurant is packed.
Some illuminations on the Halloween theme passed on the way to the restaurant – they do go in for a good show this time of year.
The meal was wonderful, probably one of the best, if not the best dinner we have experienced in the USA.
After an “interesting” breakfast of fruit (half a pear + berries) followed by quiche! we head to Belle Meade Plantation House for an interesting tour around a turn of the century house with a fascinating history and a commentary by a guy all full of himself.
No photos allowed inside though. Small grounds now, much of it sold off in family disputes many years ago.
Back into town for a general look round including a walk up and down Broadway with it’s numerous bars all which will have live music later tonight, and 2nd street where we do have a stop at the Silver Dollar Bar although in view of the expensive parking ( $16 for 2 hours ) we aren’t able to stay long.
The singer at the Silver Dollar bar was very good but we had to leave after she played “our request song” – Stand by your Man – as car park time runs out.
Dinner in Virago, an Asian restaurant just off 12th Street which is very crowded.
Unfortunately, Phillip suffers with the garlic smell.
Phishing on my Bank Account delayed us as I had to phone Bank back home but on our way, get trolley tickets from Information Centre which had some guitars to try out.
Bubbly driver gives some fascinating info and route goes past some places we didn’t know exist like time line, map of State, chiming lights and time capsules.
Drive out, after a Panera Bread fix, to an antiques area situated in a former works we had passed on the bus tour for a view of some old vehicles and the antiques.
Drive on the same route the tour took to go to a supermarket called Piggly Wiggly.
How could you not love the name, even if it is one of the smaller US supermarket players. It was founded in Nashville supermarket many moons ago.
Back for a rest before dinner at Picketts listening to some live music, food good and some nice cider.
Then off for a stroll down Broadway, stopping in a couple of bars before we get to the Silver Dollar for a couple of good songs and then a walk back up to Layla’s where more traditional country music was being played.
Not a particularly busy night in town but an Ice Hockey match probably made it seem busier than a normal Tuesday night.
The extra barriers on the road to stop crowds were not needed but maybe they will be required on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tomorrow it is a travel day and off to Memphis – watch this space for the next blog instalment.