After the 370-mile leg from Biloxi to Gadsden, Alabama on our way here, we decided to take a two-day breather at Noccalula Falls Park, run by the city of Gadsden. This is a very nice wooded park with lots of shady RV sites, concrete pads, full hookups and cable. Best of all, it was only $22 a night with a senior discount. Another great bargain:
TV addicts will notice that Phannie is tucked into a heavily wooded space not likely to be satellite-friendly. Well, no matter; for an old coach, Phannie has been outfitted with some very up-to-date technology that allows us to stream on both TV sets via the Internet almost any program available via satellite. With the cable available at the park, however, we didn't need to use the gee-whiz stuff this time.
The weather was hot all the way to Pigeon Forge and, thankfully, all of Phannie's air conditioning has been working perfectly. When we arrived in Pigeon Forge, we were amazed how much the place has grown since we were here a few years ago. There are lots of new attractions, and the traffic was pretty awful, arriving on the weekend as we did. It reminded us of Branson before that city built the reliever roads parallel to the main drag. In fact, Pigeon Forge is looking more like Branson all the time. Like Branson, it now has a Titanic attraction, a wax museum, a Ripley-like, upside-down mansion, a big Ferris wheel and more theaters. And, of course, there's Dollywood, a theme park much like Silver Dollar City in Branson.
After we had been here for a short time, we had a couple of days of rain, and then the weather moderated after that. It is clear that summer has finally lost its grip and that autumn, my favorite season, has finally arrived. Thank heavens!
We met up with Phaeton-owning friends Larry and Carolyn, whom we met last winter in Branson. They, in turn, introduced us to their friends, Larry and Vickie, all of us attending the Gospel Quartet Convention at LaConte Center. Here's a photo of these four great folks, Arkansans, all:
In the background is Doc's 321 Cafe, part of a small compound of
This is probably because the place is in the middle of nowhere, in a heavily wooded and hilly area on highway 321 (hence the restaurant's name) not far from the North Carolina border. Driving here from Pigeon Forge, I even looked out into the forest to see if I might spot a moonshine still and, at times, I could swear I heard banjo music playing the theme from the movie, "Deliverance!"
Although not discernible from the photo, the main structure of the cafe is a derelict yellow school bus, in the rear of which is the tiny kitchen that serves customers who occupy three booths inside and several tables outside. The kitchen is not partitioned from the customers, so we could see clearly what the chef was doing. Perhaps due to being slightly afraid of what I might see, I was careful to keep my gaze elsewhere. The ceiling and walls of the bus were festooned with hundreds of names of customers, who are encouraged by the staff to write something, even supplying them with a marker pen.
Sandy and I had a barbeque pork sandwich that was surprisingly tasty, along with a cup of chili and a small serving of collard greens, both of which were also quite good. I'm glad we didn't judge the place by its appearance; we try not to do that, as some of the best restaurants we've patronized have been truly dives, in every respect. We decided this place was probably worth the trip for the quirkiness alone, but the good food sealed it for us.
Besides attending the daily concerts at LaConte center in Pigeon Forge, we also took in a show at the Comedy Barn that was very funny.
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are located in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, a place we could very easily choose to live if we wanted a stick and brick now. I wish we would be here about a month from now when the leaves are ablaze. You can see a small tree changing colors in the photo below:
Many parts of the area had damage from the forest fires two years ago, but new growth is coming back strong. Gatlinburg still has some of its quaintness, but it is definitely becoming almost too touristy for our liking.
We will be leaving here for Gaffney, South Carolina and our first visit to the Freightliner factory for some service on Phannie. I'll keep you posted.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life;
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.
You don't stop playing when you get old; you get old when you stop playing.