The blog started out as a way to share a bit about my family. To keep trip reports, to share pictures. 2011 Mr. Ramsay Hunt decided to visit me. My life changed. I now use this blog as a way to share my journey. RHS effects so many people in so many ways. But life goes on and I believe how we choose to handle our issues effects how we feel. I AM A FIGHTER. Moving forward one day at a time!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Pigeon Forge Trip Report
Since Curtis turned 6 years old we have taken a trip each December for his birthday. Sometimes within the state of Georgia other times away. It is an awesome time to get away and just enjoy time with our youngest and be away from the same ole stuff we have to do day in and day out. Nana goes along and last year James and Sylvia and the grands were along as well (that was an extra special treat). We already have plans for his 11th birthday in the making! But now to our trip report for his 10th birthday!
Nana arrived at our house on the 18th the last day of school around 1:20. My daycare kiddo's were a little on the wild side this day. I think she wished she had waited till 6 to get here! But the time went by pretty fast cause on her way here she noticed she left the map at her house and then noticed she left her money at her house, and then Curtis' birthday present was at her house as well. So after we picked up Curtis and Blayne from school and the bus dropped off Drake, we loaded up the van and took a ride to Bowdon. As we were ready to leave a parent drove up. YIPPEEE two kids went home. So it was only Curtis, Drake, Gavin, mom and me. We let the kids play with the goats and on the playground while we got everything she had left loaded up. The trip back to our house was a loud one and we were both very glad Drake and Gavin would be staying in Newnan. hehehe
Once back at home I loaded up the van with all our stuff while mom and Curtis went out to dinner. I got off work at 6 then went to Karate. Mom let Curtis open his birthday present while we were at karate. Curtis loves his tribot.
When James and I got home from classes around 8:30 we went to Moreland to show mom the Christmas lights then on to Newnan to show a couple houses up that way. We got home at 10 and all went to bed for a bit. The home down in Moreland is just awesome. Such wonderful people who love Christmas and sharing.
Up and in shower at 3:30 am. We were out the door by 4:30. We left Newnan on half a tank of gas and cause it was so early everything was closed everywhere. Whats up with these people? Don't they know I have a trip to make. I know I know, I should have gotten gas Thursday evening but well uhmmm I didn't. Finally the sun was up we found a station way up the road open. Only took $20 to fill up. I love this! Oh my gosh, there was a huge sign on the door that said something to the effect of it being a Police Stake out spot and if a uniformed officer approached you to freeze and do as told. Not sure if I was to feel safe there or scared.
Next stop was in TN in this little nothing of a place. But when nature calls we have to stop. We got a kick out of the old guys eating in the little dinner/gas station stop. We were parked right in front. Got out of our van in short sleeves and noticed right away that it was VERY much windy and a good 10 degrees colder than when we left Georgia. I am sure we gave them a good bit to chat about that morning. Woke Curtis up as it was around 8:30 now. Back in the car and first words out of Curtis' mouth are "when is breakfast" . @@ So a few miles down we stopped at a McDonalds and had a light breakfast. Curtis played on the playground (indoor) for a good 30 min and used up some of the energy he seems to have so much of.
411 is a long road with not much to see even once the sun was up. We ended up taking 321 on to Pigeon Forge. We made a stop in Townsend to look at the cool wood carvings. Would love to have a table from this stuff. From there we headed on to Pigeon Forge by this old back road with tons of curves and no where to pull over and a posted speed limit of 35 and 25 almost the whole way.
Being from Georgia I stuck to the limit and made a one of the locals very unhappy as he kept blowing his horn at me. I am not sure what he thought I could do other than speed up and well that was not gonna happen. My money was for the trip and not a speeding ticket and well I didn't think I could take them curves any faster so he just had to deal with it until finally I found a pull over spot. Hope he wasn't too late for work. Hahaha
We arrived in Pigeon Forge about 10:45. Six hours and 15 min. Now my mother, gotta love her, says oh, I know the way and I have the map. So I never checked it out before hand to see what would be the best way to go. She also told me it was a 4 hour trip, then again she told a lady at her doctors office it was only 3 hours. Maybe back when she was the one doing the driving it was! I have a feeling she would have went more than 35 on that curvy road! Anyway map quest has told me this morning that we should have made it there in 4 hours and 46 min. So I guess we made pretty good time since we do stop often and follow the speed limit 50% of the time. Of course I made it clear I wanted to come home another way. I should have kept my mouth shut! More on that later.
We headed on over to Gatlinburg to pass a little time. Walked around and got some fudge and looked for the newest indoor water park motel. We never did find it. Had one of them guys try to pay us to go look at one but we didn't want to take an hour and a half of our time to go do that. So we passed on it.
Headed back to Pigeon Forge around noon to check and see if our room was ready at the Christmas Inn. Nope they would not be ready until 2:30. So we went to lunch at Olive Garden. The adults all got soup and salad and Curtis had the cheese pizza. Food was great as always. First salad had too much dressing on it but we had him bring another with dressing on side and it was awesome.
It was about 2 when we got done so James and Curtis decided to go to this cool new attraction where they played neon putt putt, did a mirror maze and some kind of laser vault thing. Mom and I went over to Little Dolly's to see if there were any new dresses for Courtney. Nothing caught our eye this time around. I did see a quilt I would like one day. Man, I should learn to quilt so I could have one. :) Nah, on second thought I will just save up and buy one next trip.
The rain had started by now so we were really ready for the room and a break. Nana was a little past tired at this point. :) Got checked in and went to the fourth floor to see our rooms 406 connecting to 408. Our rooms over looked the garden and had a balcony. I can't say enough good things about the Christmas Inn. Wonderful people and a wonderful time! They had put a Christmas Tree in each room for us (we had requested only 1) and had candy kisses under them waiting on our arrival. James had the luggage brought up and I unpacked and then we all went to check out the indoor pool and just look around a bit. Nana took a cat nap so did Daddy, Curtis and I went down to the pool. We played in the water for a good 2 hours and then went to wake the older folks up. HAHHAHAHA Love you both!
By 15 till 6 we were out the door to ride and look at lights. Pigeon Forge has it so pretty! To us they really did an awesome job. We enjoyed the 12 days of Christmas lights being spread out all along the parkway. Curtis was kind enough to sing the song. Dang is that a long song! The rain had stopped so driving was a breeze and there was very little traffic so even I the driver was able to enjoy the lights. Another favorite light scene was up on the side of the hill and had a water wheel, blacksmith and water running down the hill.
Gatlinburg was nice but not like Nana remembered if from years ago so she was a little disappointed in it. Again traffic was very light and it was easy to just drive and enjoy. It was nice but most of the lights where white over there and just very grown up looking to me. My favorite here was the huge rocking horse (colored lights) and then the side walks with the white lights going over it all the way down so you walked through the lights. I really liked Pigeon Forge's better and it was more my style. I am just a big kid after all!
Oh the way back to the room I saw a resort that I remembered has the indoor water park so we made a stop there to check it out. Oh my gosh, we love it! We have to make a trip to one of these this next year!
On the way up, I began to have a runny nose and my ears were hurting. Yep, it seems I have taken a cold so before we went back to the room I stopped at a walgreens to get some halls cough drops. There was a walgreens on every block almost. Blew my mind!
We got back to the Christmas Inn about 7 and then headed down to floor 1 to visit with a special guest. We tried to keep it a surprise for Curtis, but a lady on the elevator gave it away. She said, so are you guys going to see the Grinch. I think she felt bad but hey we should have waited on an empty one.
Cindy Lou and the Grinch showed up about 7:30 and read the story "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". He was awesome and the story was fun to hear with him acting out some parts. After pictures and chatting with the Grinch they served milk and cookies. We sat outside and ate ours and watched the Grinch through the window. Curtis went back in to talk to him some more and it was cute to just see how he acted without us in there with him. He made it a point to share that it was his birthday weekend. :)
I was beginning to feel like I had been up 16 hours or more. But offered to go to the pool with Curtis. So up to the room we go and I get things ready to head down. Curtis decides after I get all the stuff out and ready that he is tired and is ready to just watch Tv. Sounds great to me so I go visit in moms room a bit and then off to bed we all went. I think I was asleep by 10. Not sure about everyone else.
I wake up around 6:00 feeling like I slept for days. I don't think I moved at all during the night. I wondered if we could fit the beds in our van to bring home. I shower and get ready, then wake James up to do the same. I went to chat with mom and get her moving too. We got things to do folks lets get it moving!
James went down to breakfast at 7. Mom and Curtis get baths and get ready to head down with me around 8. They offer a full breakfast bar and it was wonderful. The biscuits and gravy are the best I think I have ever had.
We all look the part of Christmas today. Santa shirts and Santa hats for all. My plan is to get a Christmas picture for our card at some point. We make a few stops around the motel and town sitting up the camera on a table or chair or rock and me running to get in the shot in 10 seconds. I am positive I heard people laughing as they drove by!
9:30 we are pulling up to Dollywood. Right after paying the parking fee Curtis is crying. Oh lordy, whats wrong dude. Just a little melt down over the Christmas hat. Take it off and we will put it on when we need it. Easy problem to solve. No need for a melt down. But as the pictures will show the hat does not appear much after this point on mister Curtis.
As we enter the park they grab us pretty fast (the 4 of us really stood out in our matching shirts) and took pictures of us. I think we had 5 different shots taken in 3 different areas. Get our maps and start looking for what to do first. We wanted to see a show at 11 ( and lines were forming about 10:30) but they canceled it so off to ride some rides with Curtis. Nana decided she better get the EVC cause it is a pretty spread out park. While she goes to get that James and I rode back to the car for his coat and gloves. It begins to rain on our way back in. I run in the store and get us all dollywood ponchos. We meet up with Nana and Curtis then follow his lead while I try to read the guide map. I couldn't help but think about my Aunt Paula on her first day at Disney. We do Disney, Universal and Six Flags so often that I know my way backwards and forwards at all the parks there, but your first visit to any park its a little bit much to take in.
Everything was so pretty and lights all over the place. We knew we would be back at night to see the lights on. Decoration wise Dollywood was awesome. We made our way over to the Village area where we rode the Carousel. Nana wanted to ride but the step up was too high so she jumped on her little scooter and rode around while we rode. Okay, when your head is totally clogged up do not ride the carousel. ;) I was a little dizzy when I got off.
Next stop was the Country Fair. James and Curtis rode the Lemon twist (same thing as tea cups), they had the ride all alone and boy did they make it spin. Nana decides she thinks she wants to ride this as long as we don't spin our lemon. So we get in line. James and Curtis stayed on. Nana gets her lemon and I go get a lemon. Another 2 couples get on. Off we go. I had to hold my lemon still or the lemon aide would not be pretty. Nana did the same. The lady working the ride was great. She kept an eye on Nana the whole time. Here at Dollywood most of the workers for the ride and show greeters are older and everyone was extra nice.
We tried to talk Curtis into riding the flying elephants (just a smaller dumbo) but nope he is now to big for this ride. It would have been a walk on too. But nope. Okay we have stood in line at Disney for Dumbo for over an hour before! @@ Come on kiddo. hehehe
Next ride for Curtis was the shooting star. It is a ride where they sit and the seat goes up in the air to the top of the shooting star then it drops you down fast. Back up and do it again and again.
He rode this 3 times I think. We all took turns watching him while the others walked around looking.
Next was a small roller coaster. It is just Curtis and daddy's speed. They rode this about 4 times.
Nana and I went on to the Santa workshop. They met us there when they had enough of the rides.
We saw Santa and Mrs. Claus here. Santa gave Curtis a hard time about not having his hat on. I was worried it would bring on tears but he did great. Got a great family shot here for our Christmas card and I don't have to go print them. LOL Maybe a few cards will arrive before the 25th now.
We were able to catch the 11:30 showing of Dollywoods Babes in Toyland. Cute show. But it is very hard not to compare to Disney. Dollywood is no Disney that is for sure. Show was 50 minutes long. 30 would have been great. After the show we decided we really should go back to the room so Nana would feel up to seeing the lights at dark. So we make our way back to turn in the EVC. Curtis tells us he wants popcorn. Sure we say, thinking we are sure to pass it along the way. Get over there and nope have not seen any. So, I try telling Curtis we will get it when we come back and he says I saw it back there near the rides I think. OF course, that is all the way to the back of the park, so again I say when we come back. By the time Nana is back with us from turning in the EVC he is beginning to cry. Oh lordy.. She says, I'll sit here while you go get it. Being the mean mom that I am, I said let's go Curtis. No way was he sitting there while I went back for popcorn. As we are walking we are holding hands and I notice he is pretty hot. Had Daddy check and yep we are sure of it Curtis has a fever. This explains all the tears we have seen today. We finally found the popcorn and he is happy once again. :)
So we are out of the park about 2 and off to find something to eat. We decided to do steak and remembered we saw a Long Horns down the road past the motel. Get there only to see a big sign that says HIRING BEGINS DEC. 22. Ughhhh now what. Drive a little more and stopped at a Texas Roadhouse. We should have known better. We have never liked eating here. Hate the peanuts being thrown on the floor and I don't think we have ever gotten a good steak there. A total waste of our $56 here. Curtis steak was well down and too hard to eat, James was over cooked and had to send back, mom and I share and it was overcooked even for us, our potato was almost burnt. Oh well we got full and that's what is important I guess.
On the way back to the room we stopped at another walgreens for meds for Curtis and I. We all just rested and watched TV until 4, then got ready to go back to the park. I was raining hard now and we knew it was not letting up. Got to the park in time to catch the 5:00 showing of Christmas in the Smokies. Again, it was an okay show but way too long!
After the show we picked up moms EVC and made our way around to see the big tree and some of the lights. It was very nasty out. The park was packed and we just decided we had seen enough. I bet we didn't have the EVC for 20 min before we turned it back in and went to the car. Didn't get any pictures at night cause it was just way too wet to take the cameras out.
We decided we needed a rootbeer float from the A & W rootbeer place we saw. So off we went. Oh gosh, we just love this place. Had some onion rings and our floats and just sat and chatted. Mom and I remembered being in NH and eating at the A & W there often and how awesome it was.
On the way back to the room Curtis sang the 12 days of Christmas song again. ;) We stopped and went into the Christmas place to look around. I parrelled parked in front of this car who had parked way too close to the line but I was able to get in. We looked around a bit and were just so wet and tired we were ready to go. As we walked out, the people who I parked in front of was in front of their car totaling checking it out to make sure we did not hit them. @@ I was a long way from hitting him. Next time maybe he will not pull so close to the line.
We got to the motel about 8 and headed down to see the singing Santa at 8:30. He was awesome. He sang for 30 min. or so and then the kids got to see him. Curtis decided he would see him in the morning at breakfast. There were tons of folks down to see this show and so many kids we would have been there an hour! Once again I offered to take him swimming and he passed on it.
Our last night to sit out and watch the traffic and enjoy the lights. The temps were begining to drop as the rain kept a coming. By morning it was COLD.
I think we slept till 7:30 Sunday. James and I got ready and went to breakfast first. Came back and Nana and Curtis were ready so down we went. James and I got the van cleaned out and all the wet stuff put up. After Curtis and Nana ate we saw Santa for a bit and he signed a card for Curtis. Curtis almost had Santa to hisself so it was nice to wait till morning. :)
We just hung out a bit while James got the luggauge taken down and loaded the van. We checked out about 10 and went across the street to the Christmas place to look around and pick up a few things. Made a stop at the levi outlet but they were out of 12 huskys. So we hit the road.
We got gas just outside of Pigeon Forge $24. Totalling loving this. Total in gas so far $64 counting the gas used to go back to Bowdon.
Took 411 to 75 and headed home. Making great time until somewhere in Georgia there was an back up. Didn't take long to get though this back up.
Made a bathroom stop and while they were in the bathroom I sat in the car looking at the pictures and deleting ones that were no good when all of a sudden the wind blows like crazy and out of no where this stupid sign on a stick blew into my van. This huge boy comes out of the store and grabs the stick with signs and never says a word to me, so I get out and look at my van to make sure all is okay. From what I can tell it is. He could have said sorry or something but nope he pulls his hoodie on and takes off to his corner acting all scared. I snap a picture of him and his sign just in case there is something wrong with the front of my van and I missed it.
As we pass him heading back to the interstate Curtis said he was hiding behind the sign. hehehehe
I figure we shoudl be home by 4ish giving time to eat. Wait, we are in Geogia again and well up around hwy 53 there was a wreck and it backed up traffic for miles and miles. We got in the traffic jab a good 4 exits before the wreck. I called 511 and found out about where the trouble was and we decied to stop and eat. We exited at 53 and ate at Long Horns. Oh gosh, this was good! This is how steak should be cooked. :) James had the sirlon, mom and I shared a filet and we gave Curtis the lobster tail to go along with his grill cheese.
We finally got back to Newnan about 7:00 so my idea of taking the interstate did not work out so well and nana was sure to remind me of it. ;) But she enjoyed seeing the lights of downtown Atlanta!
We dropped James and Curtis off at home and we went to Newnan to do the last mintue shoping. Picked up a book at Barnes and Noble we had ordered and went to JcPenny and Target. Was home about 9.
Our trip is over as I got up at 6:15 and had kids here by 7:15. No where to go and get a good breakfast this morning. Nana left for home about 9 and we miss her!
Final thoughts: I just love Pigeon Forge area. Something about the mountain air and laid back do your own thing for a weekend thing really gets to me. I enjoyed the time just watching the lights from our room and just being together most of all. Dollywood was nice and we really should have allowed 2 days in order to enjoy the park for what it is.