Monday, June 6, 2011

Tennessee (in pictures)

Our chalet in Pigeon Forge was a short distance from the many buffets, souvenir shops, and amusement parks that line the street leading (eventually) to Gatlinburg. But the view from the back didn't suggest any of that.
My boyfriend and I arrived Friday afternoon; his dad and step-mother (and her mom, 83-years old) were already there, and his sister, her husband, and their two daughters got there just after the pizza that evening.

Saturday, the nine of us headed into Gatlinburg. We rode up the Ober Gatlinburg then took a chairlift even higher (and for another $7) to get better views.

(As usual, I got carried away with the panorama function on my phone.)

That evening, all of us (minus 83-year-old Hilda) went to the Dixie Stampede. I should say, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. After a 45-minute warm-up act by a blue grass trio playing everything from "She'll be coming 'round the mountain" to "Sweet Home Alabama," we were herded to an arena where we sat in rows and were served a four-course meal sans silverware. This included a Cornish Game hen.

Pictures weren't allowed once the show started, but I did get a couple before and after:

There were horses and chicken races and buffalo and lumberjacks and singing (including a giant image of Dolly Parton telling us in song that America is beautiful). My favorite part? When Scarlett O'Ham-a won the piglet race. Those piglets were pretty cute.

The next day my boyfriend and I headed into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to do some hiking, the Alum Cave Bluff trail. We had to hold on to a cable as we walked up these narrow stairs through the bluff:
We went a little nuts on the trail with another cool function of my camera, the "action shot." Hit the shutter once and it snaps a picture whenever something in the frame moves:

The hike took a little over two hours. After that we found the only Indian restaurant in Pigeon Forge (a buffet!) and then went on... a helicopter ride! For a small fee, a pilot flew me and my boyfriend, as well as a man and his young son, over the Douglass Lakes for about twenty minutes. I'd never been in a helicopter before, so it was a pretty cool experience. I asked if we'll be that high up when we go sky diving this summer; my boyfriend replied, "We're probably at 1000 feet now; we'll be at 10,000 feet when we jump." (Dad, did I mention I'm going sky diving?)

Each night (three in all) we saw the sun set behind the mountains in back of our chalet (I'll miss being able to use that word). I probably took sixty pictures of it in all, but my favorite came the last evening:

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