Grassy Knoll Institute

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Ode To Gatlinburg

Posted by LOTGK on October 10, 2007

Every year for 8 days in November, I identify with Bill Murray in his portrayal as a tumultuous weatherman from the movie, Ground Hog Day. Murray is stuck in a time loop destined to repeat the same day, same events, same results, and no matter what he does different, he wakes every morning to begin that same day over again.

This is the story of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My Ground Hog Day. My nemesis. As usual the journey began in Youngstown, Ohio. I gassed up the rental car and pointed the car South and stepped on the gas..

Thursday November 4th
Travel day. Youngstown, Ohio to Gatlinburg, Tennessee is 570 miles from my door to the hotel door. We embarked on out journey at 9:00 am and made our way to Interstate 76 West and traveled 50 miles until it hooked up with Interstate 77 South. We would be on this route for 340 miles. We were making some great time, averaging more than 70 miles per hour even with the slow start due to heavy rain keeping the traffic slow and under 55 miles per hour. Eventually Route 77 South turned into Route 81 South as we traveled another 147 miles.

Route 81 turned into route 40 West that turned into Route TN 66 that turned into Route 441 South. Fifteen more miles and we turned at the Little Pigeon River and continued through the mountain pass to our final destination, Gatlinburg. A quick turn down River road and we rolled into the parking lot of the Mountain Heritage Inn.

Check in was painless and the rooms were quite nice.
Tired, we unpacked and made our way to dinner. The Brewery on the main drag, (Parkway) was our first choice. Being late, I ordered the bacon cheeseburger, and fries, and of course the hot soft pretzels with cheese.

Friday, November 5th
Rise and shine at 8:00am, shower and all that, we met at the Parkway Pancake House. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, and hash browns. Continuing with the morning, we made our way to the Gatlinburg Convention Center to set up our show. It took us approximately 3 hours and that is where I made the dial up hook up Internet connection for my computer. Did I mention that the connection was slow?

With the rest of the day ahead of us, and the weather cooperating, (It was 75 degrees) we made a trek to the top of the Smoky Mountains where they have an amusement park of sorts. You know, water slides, go-karts, ice-skating rink, and a toboggan sled that you sit on and race down the mountain. The scenery was spectacular from atop the mountain.

Coming back down the mountain, we could see that the traffic was backed up for miles as the tourists and buyers were coming into Gatlinburg for the show and the weekend. Every restaurant would be packed after 5 pm with a minimum one-hour waiting period. We immediately made our way to our selected restaurant.

Dinner was at The Peddler on River Road down on River Road. The Peddler is by far the best steak in town. Dare I say, the best steak in Tennessee? The nation? Of course I had the Filet Mignon, baked potato, and killer salad. The rolls were hot and good.

Saturday, November 6th
Rise and shine at 8:00am, shower and all that. First day of the show. We make our journey up the path, through the parking deck, across the street, and through the secret back door of the Convention center. I turned on the lights, opened the displays, threw my suit coat over my chair, stocked the cooler, and connected my computer to the Internet so I could keep in contact with the real world.

Let me tell you that dial up connection is so slow. I am spoiled as I have hi speed cable access at home and a T3 line at work so every thing works like I was switching a remote control on a TV set. Now, it would literally take almost a minute to load each and every page. But, I was there for 9 fun filled hours every day so I certainly had time to wait.

It seems that the same people walk and stop by the booth, asking the same questions, telling the same jokes, the same conversation. Yes, I was in the movie Groundhog Day. We took care of business and the clock on the wall said it was 6:00 pm and time to go. We would walk the same path from whence we came in the morning.

With the city fully congested with tourists and convention buyers soaking up the scenery of millions of Christmas lights we ventured out of Gatlinburg to the neighboring city of Pigeon Forge. It took us roughly an hour to travel 12 miles but we made it to our destination which was a smorgasbord called Duffs. The fried chicken was to die for, as well the real mashed potatoes, Mac and cheese, and other assorted meats and side dishes.

Since we were in the “forge” we decided to see the lights. We went down to red light #7, drove by the Old Mill restaurant, and walked around the hundreds of Christmas light displays set up for viewing. We soon returned to the car and went back to Gatlinburg. Sunday was fast approaching.

Sunday, November 7th
Rise and shine at 8:00am, shower and all that. The trade show is still there. Repeat November 6th’s first two paragraphs to see what we did that day. In fact, for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well. That’s why it feels like I’m trapped in the movie groundhog Day.

Sunday brought us to the Apple Barn restaurant. A quaint old style home cookin restaurant. Of course I had to have the turkey dinner with all the sides. It was a fantastic meal.

Monday, November 8th
Same as it ever was.

For dinner, we decided on a new restaurant that just opened. It was called the Open Hearth. I went for the loaded potato skins and the chicken parmagiana.

Tuesday, November 9th
Blah, blah, blah at the show.
Dinner was at the Texas Roadhouse. Staying with the chicken theme, I went with the chicken platter and loaded French fires. Again, the food was fantastic including the warm rolls. It always is in Gatlinburg. You can never go away hungry from a restaurant here.

Wednesday, November 10th
Let’s move right on to dinner shall we? Since we were leaving Thursday afternoon for home, we did some shopping at the local stores for chocolates, candy, and gifts. We then went to The Brewery for dinner. Brewery style pizza was my choice with BBQ chicken as a topping. Yes, you guessed it. It was delicious.

Thursday, November 11th
The nightmare, (Trade Show) was finally over at noon and we prepared for our departure. Our luggage was packed and we gassed the car up and headed for Youngstown. Nine hours later and we were home. Until next November when we embark on the same journey. Maybe they’ll be showing a Bill Murray tribute at the movie theater. Maybe one of the movies will be…Nah, I wouldn’t watch it. I live it 8 days a year.

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2 Responses to “Ode To Gatlinburg”

  1. Price 48 said

    Gatlinburg is a beautiful city. Pictures can never do it justice.

    • LOTGK said

      Yes it is. Gatlinburg is beautiful, the Smoky Mountains, the quaint little town, the Parkway strip, the way the town goes all out during Christmas time.

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