The view of a giant gorilla climbing a
building was new. So was getting a hotel room with a Jacuzzi for only $39 a night. But the main thing new about the East Tennessee vacation
hub of Pigeon Forge was how much was gone.
For the 16th year in a row we spent at
least two days in the Mountain Mecca. We used to spend much more time
there during the course of a summer, but constant saving coupled with
never spending "left over vacation money" has enabled us to
go to the beach the past three years and that costs a few dollars
Last week was the first time we'd been
to Pigeon Forge in well over a year. There was still a lot of
traffic, restaurants were crammed into every corner and there seemed
to be ongoing construction in spots where there's always ongoing
But a lot of stuff was gone. The Grand
Inn and Resort was gone and another place was coming up in its place.
The only bookstore left is The Book Warehouse, and half of it is now
a hillbilly looking.... convenience store, I'd guess.
Even something called The Smoky
Mountain Grill in the Tanger Outlet Mall was gone. We'd ate there
several times over the years, but in retrospect we were always the
only ones in there, so it's not totally surprising it was gone.
Having pretty much gone from our youth (mid twenties) to old age (mid forties) in our Pigeon Forge years, we
were appropriately nostalgic as we walked around. What everybody has
always called the blue mall was all but abandoned, with at least 70
percent of it blocked off. Still, there was a guy in there who wanted
to know where we were from and probably would have tried to sell us
Dollywood tickets (or worse, told us about time shares) if we hadn't
rudely walked on without saying anything to him.
I lost track of the number of times we
pointed at a spot and said, "Didn't there use to be a so and so
there?" Or looked at something new and asked, "Where did that
Some of it was interesting stuff, some
will never cross our minds again. Overall, the excitement that once
seemed to dominate our Pigeon Forge trips has waned some. I can
remember getting to hotel rooms and just being so hyped up that I was
already dreading the morning we'd have to pack up and leave. Now,
when that morning came around, I just looked at my watch and said, "Eh, let's get on out of here."
I suppose three trips to the beach in
less than a year and a half kinda took the oomph out of the mountain
trips some. I've been around mountains all my life, but the beach? Man, that was a new and mind blowing experience! Pigeon Forge go-kart
tracks? I guess that's nice if you're 12, but you should see some of
the things I've spotted on the beach in the last year and a half!
We're not really interested in
Dollywood or any of the show theaters and the thought of exposing our
40 plus-year-old bodies at Splash Country just leaves us feeling
depressed, so there's not really much for us to do with all the book
stores having closed down. Unless you really like clothes. Then
there's all kinds of places you can hang out and spend money.
Or maybe it was just because what was a
pretty good-sized buildup in our vacation fund got socked pretty hard
with the (unwanted) purchases of a new heating and air system and a
new refrigerator. That kind of thing can put a damper on a trip,
whether it's to the mountains or the beach.
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