We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Gatlinburg. Our first time with them, but it won't be our last. Nice location between lights 9 and 10. We got to see snow/sleet on Monday. They said there was quite a bit of snow up at Newfound Gap, but we never made it up there to see. Had wonderful breakfast at the Mountain Lodge out on 321. Love their white gravy and biscuits. Their coffee is really good too! Headed over to Pigeon Forge so I could get my scrapbook store fix! Found some stuff for me and also stuff for some scrappy friends! From there, we went to the Arts and Crafts Community so I could replace my coffee mug from Alewine Pottery that I dropped and broke. I got two this time, just in case! I also finally got one of their large batter bowls! i've looked at them for years (and watched the price go up!) and decided it was about time I got one. Stopped at the Gondolier Italian Restaurant at the end of Food City parking lot for dinner. Friend Cindy from the TN travel boards highly recommended them and we were not disapointed. They bring you out a plate of warm breadsticks and marinara sauce to nosh on before dinner. Yummy! John got a huge spinach and cheese calzone and I had spagetti with marinara. Huge portions at a very nice price.
Tuesday we wanted to try a new restaurant, Mojito's, up on Ski Mtn Rd. Got there and they were not open. Don't know what the story was there, so we went back and got tenderlion biscuits from the Parkway Market. $1.69 each for lip-smacking good tenderlion biscuits. John was still feeling pretty tired, so we went back to the room and he napped while I read. A lazy day all the way around. We walked to the Smoky Mountain Brewery for dinner. We split the beer cheese and soft pretzel appetizer. It is soooo good! I had their house salad as my entree and John had a cheeseburger. A couple of beers each and we were happy campers!
Wednesday we went to Log Cabin Pancake House for breakfast. We both had blueberry pancakes. Love them because they don't use that gloppy pie filling on top. The put fresh berries in the pancakes and on top. They make their own blueberry syrup too, with berries floating in it! A great way to start the day. Headed over to the laundromat to wash our dirty clothes. Course laundromat dryers are not known for their fast drying capabilities! Thirty minutes and the jeans were still soaked. So we took them back to the room and a' la the Clampett's Go To Maui, we hung them over the balcony of the room and in the chairs on the balcony so they would dry in the afternoon sun. Decided to go do something we'd not done. Drove 321 over to Cosby and found the Foothills Parkway, so we drove it. We could see lots of snow on the mountaintops in the distance. Went to Ogle's Brick Oven Pizza for dinner. We had a deluxe pizza that had ham, sausage, pepperoni, onion, tomato, black and green olives. It was sooo good.
Thursday John walked up to the Donut Friar to get a loaf of cinnamon bread to bring home. We ate the hotel's free breakfast today. They actually have a pretty nice selection. Fresh fruit, cold cereals, biscuits, gravy or sausage patties, bagels, donuts, muffins. After breakfast, we went to Elkmont, where they used to log in the early 1900's. Once the logging was completed, they turned the old loggers camps into homes for the rich Knoxvillians to escape the summer heat. They would bring them in on the railroad and people would spend the entire summer in the cooler mountain climate. When the Parks service kicked everybody out, the homes fell into disrepair. They have recently been placed on the National Historic Registry, so there is hope that they can be preserved. From Elkmont, we continued on to Cades Cove. While it was too late to see any animals, our main reason in coming was to drive Rich Mountain Road. It is one of the old original trails out of the Cove. It is an unpaved road that is only about 7 miles long, but because it is up and down over the mountains, it takes about 1 hour to drive that 7 miles. It was a beautiful drive. You come out in Townsend, so we took the River Road back to Gatlinburg. Got the truck packed up with all of the non-essential stuff since we head for home in the morning. Tonight was Rib Fest on River Street in front of the Aquarium. SO we went and ate our fill of BBQ, had a few beers, enjoyed the blues/rock band that was playing. On the way back to the hotel, I managed to squeeze down a single scoop of coconut pineapple ice cream! From snow and sleet on our first day to eating ice cream on our last! A perfect vacation!!