Pigs Fly in the Smokies
Have you heard the expression, "When pigs fly"? You know, like, "We will purposely go into over-crowded places....when pigs fly"....oops! Well, just like the picture, the pigs are flying in the Smokey Mountains!! :)
Today, we left West Virginia and drove through the hills of Virginia right into Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains. Our goal was Gatlingburg, TN and I haven't been there in years. To me, Gatlingburg is a peaceful place in the heart of the Smokey's with Smokey the Bear and one restaurant with great pancakes on the mountain. Boy-things have certainly changed in the last 22 years!
As we drove into the general area, the streets were lined with every type of store, hotel and restaurant that you could imagine. We had heard of the famous outlet mall in the sister town, Pigeon Forge (near where the pigs fly) with over 140 stores. There were so many people shopping that they had lines OUTSIDE of the stores with people just trying to get IN. I have never seen anything like it!! After about 45 minutes, we decided that we could shop in Texas and happily decided to make a new plan - on to Gatlingburg, It was only 12 miles away, but after sitting in traffic for two hours and covering less than 8 miles, we changed our minds. Not a problem....We saw a sign for Dollywood, so off we went!! It's November.....and cold, so who goes to an amusement park?
Dollywood is Dolly Parton's theme park, which is located in the general Gatlingburg area, close to where Dolly was raised. Today just happened to be the opening (read..tons of people) of the Christmas season and tonight (translation - even MORE crowds) was the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. We enjoyed going to see the production "A Country Christmas" (a mere 40 minute wait) and rode a real train with a coal-burning locomotive up into the mountains (30 minute wait), which was fun. We also enjoyed seeing the Dolly Parton museum and seeing a replica of the home where she grew up - only 2 rooms!
The Christmas lights were beautifully done in Dollywood and it was nice to see them along with the lighted Christmas parade. I took a picture of the crowds as we were trying to make our way through. We also learned that over 3 million people a year go through this park and we determined that a good number of them chose the same night we did. By the indication of the crowds, our economy is doing much better than we thought!! I also just read on the Internet that Dollywood is Tennessee's number ONE attraction - Go figure!! :) Things really HAVE changed.
We decided to leave before the park closed to get the tram to our car. We were lucky to board after only 3 trams passed, since we are sure that the "last minute" crowd will wait much longer. As an optimist, my initial thought was to drive through Gatlingburg on our way out of town, but the traffic situation determined that a by-pass would be a MUCH better option! :)
We had a great day and we really enjoyed the sights, but we never made it to Gatlingburg.....I am really glad that pigs don't fly too often! :)