Once we arrived in Pigeon Forge we were surprised with what greeted us. Our reason for coming here was because it was the home of Dollywood. We’d imagined a small town with just a few tacky places. At least this was how our Lonely Planet guide had described it. However, as we drove down the street to our hotel we were met with a huge strip of motels, crazy golf, go karting, restaurants, theatres with dinner shows and all kinds of museums. It was like a run down version of the Las Vegas strip.
Right near the end of the strip was our motel – Green Valley. We checked in and headed out to find ourselves some dinner. There was every kind of chain restaurant available in America and every single one looked full with people queuing to get in. We opted for one we’d never seen before, Joe’s Crab Shack and we weren’t disappointed. We were brought out massive portions of seafood and given our own personalised bibs. Crab related, of course!
We’d only booked to stay for two nights, which would give us just one full day, so now we had a choice to make. Did we spend the day at Dollywood liked we’d originally planned, or did we explore the variety of tack that was on offer? As Dollywood was a very expensive $70 per person (plus extra for parking!) and had very mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, we decided to skip it and explore the strip instead.
First stop was some crazy golf and go-karting. There were dozens of places to choose from but we opted for The Track where we could do both in the same place. Golf was first with 18 holes to play. As anyone who knows us will agree, Barry and I are very competitive so this wasn’t just going to be a friendly game of golf. This was going to be a very serious game. We picked up a scorecard and searched for the winning club. It was on!!
Once we got to the 14th hole, the score was sitting at 34-47 to Barry. Grrrrr!! I wasn’t happy. But then my luck changed. It looked like it was going to be a difficult hole. There was a long stretch of grass before reaching the hole and then there was a log dangling over it. I hoped for the best, took my swing and a modern day miracle occurred. I got a hole in one!! Even luckier for me, Barry had to decided to film it, so there was even evidence. I could see the dismay in his face as I jumped around all over the green in happiness. He tried to do the same on his turn, but he just couldn’t match it.
Then came the 15th hole and yet again, my luck was in as I got my second hole in one. I was on a role and slowly catching up to Barry who took 4 shots to pocket his ball.
I didn’t win the game, but it was close at 56-51 and Barry did say that he would rather have got a hole in one than win the game overall. I’ll take that as a win for me then!
Next up was Go-Karting. I can’t remember the last time I tried my hand at this, but I was ready. Barry and I took to the track with a group of 4 other people. Barry left the gate first followed by me and then the 4 others. I had my foot to the floor on my kart but no sooner had we made it round the first bend than I was overtaken. And it didn’t stop there. I was swiftly overtaken by all the other 3 karts. My foot was slammed down on the pedal as far as it could go and the other was nowhere near the break, but my kart wouldn’t go any faster. A couple of rounds down the line and I even got lapped! I was so frustrated, my competitive nature coming out. But what could I do? Barry stuck with me though, filming every moment of my sorrow.
When we came to the end, I rolled in last.
Head hanging in shame, we jumped in the car and drove to the next town of Gatlinburg. It was similar to Pigeon Forge in that it had all sorts of tourist attractions, but it was a lot smaller and less tacky looking. We headed straight for Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. As we paid our entry fee, we were warned that it would get very dark inside and at times we wouldn’t be able to see our hand in front of our face. Feeling brave, we shrugged it off and made our way to the lift that was going to take us up to where our adventure would begin. We were going in with 3 other people who all happened to be deaf.
Once we reached the top, we were met by a guy who told us that we had to walk through in single file and keep our hand on the shoulder of the person in front. Clinging to the guy in front of me, we made our way through every horror movie cliché there is. A meat factory with pig carcasses hanging from the ceiling, spider webs, a creepy study with paintings screaming at us, an autopsy lab, hallways infested with cockroaches and lastly we were chased out by a crazy scientist wielding a chainsaw!
When we got into the lift to leave, the guy in front of me laughed and mimicked me for jumping at everything. What a cheek! The only reason he wasn’t jumping all over the place is because he couldn’t hear all the scary noises that were going on around him!
Our final stop was a face wincing one. We were going to taste some Moonshine at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. It is the country’s first licensed moonshine maker, which is a bit of a contradiction in itself! The shelves were filled with row after row of jars filled with the strong stuff. They did all sorts of flavours such as Watermelon, Apple Pie, Peach, Lemon Drop, White Lightnin’ and pure Moonshine which is 100+ proof. Prepared to give some a try, we walked up to the bar and joined a tasting group.
We got to sample a majority of the flavours, which were a mixture of 40, 80 and 100 proof. The 40 proof were strong so when it came to trying the 100 proof, it was ridiculous. I tried the white lightnin’ but had to bail out of the Moonshine. Barry tried it and his face told me I was right to pass. It was just pure alcohol, which I thought tasted like tequila. We were told that people there actually drink it straight before going out to plough snow as it warmed their insides. Burned them more like!!
The only thing we tasted that was almost as bad as the pure Moonshine were some cherries. They were glacè cherries soaked in a jar with the Moonshine. When I popped one in my mouth, I could feel the alcohol soaking into my tongue. Every bite I took of the cherry, more alcohol leaked out and it felt like it was never ending.
After bailing out of tastings before we’d sampled all that was on offer (we couldn’t take anymore and I was feeling tipsy) we settled on buying a jar of Apple Pie. It was the lowest proof so we knew we’d be able to drink it and decided it would be good to keep us warm by the fire the next time we were camping.
That evening, we finished our trip off in Pigeon Forge by going to The Comedy Barn. It was winner of the funniest show so we thought we would be in for a good laugh. And that we were. From swinging cats to a man shooting ping-pong balls out of his “word hole” it was truly hilarious. So much so, that we bought the whole show, Which was filed live, on DVD so we can laugh at it time and time again!