Saturday, July 22, 2006

Great Smoky Mountains, here we come!

Hi all,

Sorry it took so long to work on the blog, but I'm back now!!!
So here you can now read our story of traveling through the Great Smoky Mountains!

A little before Knoxville we left the I40 to catch the US321 to go to Maryville, and further to Pigeon Forge. This was marked on our map as scenic road, and woooow!! Scenic it was !!! This seemed to be a great start of our trip through the Great Smoky Mountains.
Pigeon Forge looked quite touristic, and it looked a bit like one huge amusement park. From Pigeon Forge we continued to Gatlinburg. Entering Gatlinburg, this is what happened:
Me, yelling: "Stop! Stop! Stop the car!! I saw a Hard Rock Cafe!!"
Jan, very calm: "No, that can't be, you're starting to see Hard Rock Cafes everywhere now???? Besides, I checked all Hard Rock Cafe addresses on our road on the website and there is no Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg."
Me, screaming now: "Yes yes yes I saw one!! Just pull over and you'll see. I have to go to the bathroom anyway!!!"

And guess what,... of course I was right. There was an Hard Rock Cafe right around the corner from where we parked the car. This was Jans lucky day!
I asked him if he would point out a craft store to me next time he saw one, even if I didn't expect it, now that I had found an extra Hard Rock Cafe for him to visit. He told me very calm: "don't push your luck". HEY!!!! No fair!!

After a bite and drink in the Hard Rock Cafe and buying another T-shirt very unexpectedly, we walked down the main street of Gatlinburg.
It was also touristic, but in a nice way. Crazy as we are about doing this trip "the american way" we decided to have our picture taken dressed in wildwest outfits. Hilarious! The "dressing room" was so small, we were laughing our heads off before we even got dressed. Strangely enough we didn't even need to take of our 21st century clothes coz all the clothes were cut open at the back and had ribbons to close them long enough to have the picture taken. Because it is a brown/white picture (sepia for the intelligent ones) we didn't have to care about matching colors :-) My dress and hat absolutely didn't match, but you don't see that in the picture. Jan looked very though with a long coat, a western hat and a big gun in his hands. He was told to look "dangerous and angry"... LOL
I looked very "rich" with a bag of "gold dust" in my hands. hihi...
If people beg long enough (and if they sponsor a bit for our next trip to the USA... that's what Jan says anyway.... heheh) we might scan the picture and send it via e-mail.

Too bad that we didn't know beforehand that Gatlinburg was worth spending more time, so we had to leave too early. No time to have a walk along the 11 mile "loop", or to take the "téléferique" to go to ski area above Gatlinburg.

Driving through the Great Smoke mountains to Cherokee (didn't see any indians though) and further to Maggie Valley to find a place to stay the night was very nice. We stopped a few minutes on the top to enjoy the view and take a few picture (of course).

Due to our unplanned stay in Gatlinburg, it was getting late when we stopped at a Ramada Inn in Maggie Valley. The nice lady told us that to find a bite we should do that first, before getting settled in the room, because there were not so many restaurants and they close early. Coming from Belgium we are of course spoiled when it comes to that sort of thing.... LOLOL
And indeed, the first pizza place we tried, was already closed, the second plase was a bar that was still open, but the kitchen just closed. Grrrrrr. (this was the sound of our stomachs by that time). The third one we tried saved our lives. Bar Saratoga's kitchen was about to close, but they made the cook stay for another couple of minutes to prepare something for us. The only things we could choose were fried stuff, because the rest of the kitchen was already cleaned.

Because of the late hour, we didn't want to eat too much! Try this in the USA!!! I ordered a nachos plate and Jan ordered chicken wings, both listed as starters. Oh boy, starters were they???? Yeah, for a whole regiment maybe....
About one third through my nachos I was totally stuffed. But Jan made me eat some more because it wasn't polite towards the cook (who stayed later to cook it for us, remember?). Jan couldn't help me out much because his chicken wings plate contained the wings of a large chicken family!! Or were they ostriches perhaps, judging by the size of the wings?? LOL

Our room was at the back side of the hotel and there was a little stream passing by. Nice view! But no way you could get there from the rooms. All the outside areas at the room had iron fences so you couldn't go from there to the water. Maybe scared that something might happen to little ones and a lawsuit would follow?? That's something that strikes us as particularly typical for the US way of life so far.
Warnings that seem obvious are repeated over and over in the most strange places. We laughed so hard at a warning on a pop bottle that it was under pressure and the cap flying off could harm someone!! DUH!! Most of the funny or strange lawsuits that I've heard about would not even be possible in Belgium. No lawyer would ever be willing to take the case, and no court would put it on the roll. Plus if they did, you'd probably be up to your eyeballs in debt coz of the fees. Eventually it would be a loose-loose situation which is why no one would take such a case. Sometimes I get the feeling that in the US everyone will try to start a lawsuit in hopes to get some money from it, even though they themselves are actually responsible for what happened to them. If you get harmed by a bottle cap flying off, shouldn't you sue the person that most likely shook the bottle, and not the company?? I mean, as kids of course we did that too, shaking a coke can and hand it over to your friend. It's a joke and nobody got harmed. A lawsuit against sigarette companies is such another stupid thing. You know smoking is harmful, and if you choose to smoke, don't sue the company. You're the only one to blame, just coz you decide to smoke. And there's probably hundreds more of such examples. Just seems very strange to us europeans, that's all.

Well, back to the business of the trip! The next morning we were ready to attack the Blue Ridge Parkway, but not before having a "REAL Belgian waffles" breakfast. We are still wondering which piece exactly was belgian!! In no way it came even near a belgian waffle, not in looks and not in taste. Poor americans, you all should come to Belgium to taste the real thing. (ggg)

Many hugs,


thejanet said...

YAY! More blogging!!

We loved the whole area you're traveling now, rented a house in Gatlinburg for a week once. And I still didn't have enough time there!!

More more more!

Gunvor said...

Finally - more info about your trip!!! Thanks!

And please, pretty please - I want to see the western style photo!!! I promise to show you lots of stores when Jan finally takes you to Sweden!

Mim Smith Faro said...

I think you need to just post the pic to your blog so we can all see you in your western finery ;)

I am not surprised to read your bemusement with our wonderful litigation-happy society. It is sort of disgusting isn't it? I know there are many reasons to realistically sue but there are too many ridiculous claims that get settled, then publicized, then copied. It really is ridiculous.

I love the fact that you spotted the Hard Rock for Jan! Too cute.

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