Gatlinburg 2006

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December 15, 2006
Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge TN

It was that time of year again. Time to suit up in my warmest winter attire, pack up the Xterra, and head to Tennessee for a weekend of coaster riding. I took Friday off from work so that I could get a head start and meet up with some friends who were visiting the area during the same time period I was, and since I hadn’t seen them since a new addition to the family I was excited to spend the evening with friends.

I waited till Friday morning to pack as I knew I wouldn’t need much and knew what I was going to take with me. But during packing somehow I hurt my back. After a week of headaches and now a back ache I took some Aspirin that never really kicked in. I left the house around 10 AM. As prepared as I was, the warm winter attire was definitely not needed as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was out in full force. Weather for the weekend was calling for highs of 66° and lows of 50°, but it was at least 70° by this point.

The drive was about 4 hours, with traffic upon arrival to Pigeon Forge not as bad as I’d expected. I had called Daniella and made plans to meet up with her family at an arcade in Gatlinburg but they called and said they were heading somewhere else as the price vs. fun factor wasn’t worth it. After a couple more failed attempts, we decided to hit up Obër Gatlinburg, which I’d never been to. So I told them I’d park by the Hard Rock Café since I had dinner plans there for the evening, and then walk up to meet them.

Gatlinburg is nice, but you’re walking up a hill the entire way from the old Hard Rock to the entrance to the park, and I was basically going from one end of the strip to the other. Once I arrived I hadn’t realized that I had passed the group, so I text messaged them and they called back. I told them where to look for me and about 15 minutes later I saw the family walking towards me.

Hugs and hand shakes and an introduction to newest member of the family, Lilly, ensued, and then we made our way inside to purchase a ticket to the tram. After having our picture taken, which we purchased on CD later, we boarded the tram and off we went. I was holding Lillian until she became restless on the tram.

After arriving at the top of the mountain at Obër Gatlinburg we checked on some food, ate, and caught up. Then we headed outside to the alpine slides. They didn’t want to sell us the unlimited wrist band, which would have been cheaper and gave us more than one ride, so we paid for one ride, rode up in the ski lift and rode down the slide. The slack jawed yokel gave us instructions in between puffs on his cigarette, and Daniella and Brent were off first.

Josh and I got in behind them and pulled up to the line. I was excited as I’ve heard these were really fun, but also a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. Once we were given the go ahead after giving Daniella’s slow head start, we were off. My only problem with the Alpine Slide was that I have too much of a gut to be able to push the leaver that makes you go far enough forward to get a really good amount of speed, but I learned how to do it really quick and even though Josh was beating me most of the way, I won the race in the end.

Walking from the end of the alpine slide over to the lodge where Daniella wanted to ice skate was our next destination. I hadn’t ice skated since I was a kid and was looking forward to it but once I was handed my skates, I was a little worried. My foot was bigger than everyone else’s, and they handed me a different type of skate than the others got. Mine looked cheap, they were made of hard plastic and not the material the others were made from, and once I got them on, there was NO arch support. I was afraid I was the only one with that problem, but later another guy with the same skates was complaining of the same thing.

We all laced up and headed for the rink. Of course, once I stepped out on the ice I fell. One of my biggest problems was that I couldn’t go slowly at all as I would always end up going too fast, and I’d still not mastered stopping on ice very well. Plus the skates wouldn’t allow for me to turn my feet inwards to steer my legs back together. My feet were in terrible pain quickly, so I got off the ice and re-laced my shoes, which was when I met the other guy with the same problems. At first re-lacing my shoes helped a lot, but getting back on the ice and falling 2 more times meant it was time to call it quits.

Josh was feeling the same way, so he and I headed up to the arcades to wait on Daniella and Brent to finish. It’s a shame, I’d really wanted to ice skate, but oh well. Oh, and the final fall was Daniella’s fault as I had just finally got into my rhythm, at which point Daniella looks at me, points at two guys, makes a comment for me to look, which I did, and that caused me to wipe out. Right in front of a small room filled with young Asian girls. And yes, they laughed hysterically.

We went to the first arcade, which wasn’t fun at all as none of the old games were maintained. So we headed to the other arcade and hung out for a while playing skee ball and other stuff until Brent and Daniella came up. I gave them my tickets for prizes and they got some cheap stuff at the redemption center. We went back downstairs where I purchased a half pound of fudge that I never finished, and Josh and Daniella went gift shopping. We took some pictures, purchased the Tram Picture CD, and headed back down the mountain on the tram. It had grown dark, and the ride showcased the town’s lights.

After we arrived back down the mountain we started walking towards the parking areas by Hard Rock Café, stopping to shop along the way. I said my goodbyes to the Dorsey/Koontz clan with the intention of calling them on Saturday nite so that we could meet up for breakfast on Sunday morning. Then I ran to the car and readied myself for dinner at the Hard Rock. I made my way over after Josh and Brandi called to let me know they’d arrived. Our reservation was for 15, but that ended up being 11 so we were seated promptly once our tables were ready and waited for everyone else to arrive.

During the course of the meal, we ate, drank, talked, and eventually the rest of the crew showed up. Food was decent; atmosphere was Hard Rockish as usual. Once that was all done, however, we all went up to the cabin to hang out and have fun. Tommy and James arrived around midnite, and I think we all sat around talking on the porch till about 3ish in the morning before I finally left for my own bed.