Friday we did have the day off (no chemo) so we decided to make a day of it. We started in Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I tried the whole grain pancakes and they were delicious. The store is always fun to shop around in, and we were surprised to see that it had been rearranged. The checkout registers were now in the middle of the floor, and everything was decorated around the walls. I wonder if all CBs are redone like this?
It was another hot day, so we wanted to stay in the car as much as possible. Heading down towards Gatlinburg, we decided to head left toward Campbell Lead instead of the right fork we take most of the time towards Cades Cove. Most of the area was residential, but residential around the Smokies means long steep driveways leading to houses with tremendously beautiful views. We saw a lot of those, and climbed Ski Mountain Drive which sounded promising. Many twists and turns later we reached the top of the mountain with these cute little rentals.
I couldn't get too close, but here's a sample of the view: We are high up there!
All types of houses are built up here, modern, classic and chalets, but most are log cabins. This is a really nice one being put up:
We wound our way down the mountain and found ourselves in downtown Gatlinburg. Gary wanted to try the Sky Lift today, so we parked the car near the Aquarium and enjoyed our walk to the ride. Another Dollywood perk - we get on free. They made us stand on a little platform as the continuously moving chairs come up to your back and you just sit down and go. As I was standing in line, I looked up to where we were going. It was also a steep climb - at 1800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain, I was glad that it was not a windy day.
We stood on the platform, the chair came around, and plop! we landed, pulled down the safety bar, and began our ascent. I asked a couple coming down the hill if one could get off at the top, and the reply was yes. Along the way there were lots of flip flops below and we wondered what you would do with one flip flop. One small person figured out that it would be better not to have any, and dropped the other one a few yards later. I wondered if they sold flip flops somewhere up there...
It was a bit hazy, so a lot of the smokies were not so visible. But it was fun looking around. Then it was time for our return trip down, down, down. Once again, we were plopped down on the moving chair and gently and very quietly sailed down the side of the mountain.
We did a few 'duck in the shop to get cool' maneuvers on our way back to the car. Not a bad day for $3.75 for parking. We stopped by Dollywood to pick up our pay stubs and talk to some of our co-workers about the slow day. Next week is Dollywood Nights when the park is open until 10 pm for a week. Gary and I have really long days on Tuesday and Wednesday. But, we picked up our Dollywood Nights T-shirts that we can wear at work and a moonpie. Since the park is a Coke vendor, there was no RC Cola to go along with it. Bummer.
We had a dinner date to get ready for with Brenda and Larry who picked us up at 6:30 for the short drive to Gondolier's Italian Restaurant. We had eaten here before once and it has become a favorite of ours. Brenda and I decided to try the chicken and spinach stuffed manicotti in alfredo sauce, highly recommended by our waitress, Kathy. Larry and Gary chose the special calzone. I forgot to take a picture of the meals, but they were enormous. Of course, that means leftovers for dinner one night, so we happily asked for boxes.
Last visit, we noticed the cake display case and promised ourselves we would try one the next time. So Kathy kindly reeled off the contents of cakes and pies available, but when she mentioned "Death by Chocolate" I said you can stop there. We ordered one piece and four forks. Yep, nearly died, it was so good. No box needed...
Chatting in the car, Brenda offered to show us a quicker way to Knoxville via Chapman Highway, and on the way we drove up to some rental cabins with magnificent views. It was dark by then, and I remarked that I couldn't remember the last time we had driven anywhere in the dark. Wierd. This coming week, we will be driving home from work in the dark. I hope we can find our way...
On a last note, we'd like to congratulate friends of ours, Don and Lois, on his retirement and all the fun on the upcoming trips they will be taking. Safe travels, you two. We'll be seeing you down the road!