Monday, January 11, 2010

Things To Do In the Smokies

From In the Garden
What do you do once you head to the Smokies? Well, for us the vacation was planned as more of a relaxing vacation with lots of in between things added in so as to keep things interesting. We really did not have a big plan for what we were going to do in the Smokies but had some general ideas.

The biggest and best part of the vacation for Mr. Fix-it besides spending time with each other was taking the Jimster on a helicopter ride. Mr. Fix-it is a helicopter mechanic in the Army and has flown many times. He wanted the Jimster to share in that unique experience. As an Army air traffic controller I also had the opportunity to fly in my Army days so I chose to sit out the helicopter flight. Those days of flying in helicopters are over for me. The Jimster enjoyed his one of a kind flight though and has a greater appreciation for what his father does in the Army. He got to sit in the co-pilots seat and had a blast seeing Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville from the air was a great experience for both the Jimster and Mr. Fix-it.

From In the Garden

The one thing I had preplanned prior to our trip was a visit to Wonderworks. Most attractions in the United States offer military discounts so I took advantage of this and purchased tickets online. Dollywood also offers a military discount but you have to pay at the park so we saved that for later and only preplanned Wonderworks. We immensely enjoyed this children's museum/ride amusement park/dinner theater very much. The building itself is a Greek styled building that is built upside down. It was an architectural wonder indeed. The museum and interactive exhibits were not so overwhelming that we were stressed to get through them all during our visit. You know what I mean-those parks you rush through in order to see it all? Wonderworks is not like this and a family can take their time visiting all of its exhibits and interactive activities. Rides were an extra special treat.

Part of our day at Wonderworks was spent at their in house dinner and show called 'Hoot n Holler' I highly recommend this show if you wish to stay out of the hustle and bustle and frenetic activity some of the other more well known shows in town have a reputation of providing. This show was wonderful and the food very good.
From In the Garden

We had never visited Dollywood before so figured this would be a great time to go. We were right! Some of the rides were shut down due to it being the dead of winter. These rides included mostly water rides. Many concession stands were not open either but the caveat was that the crowds were smaller and waiting to ride the roller coasters was-well-there really was no wait. We were fortunate that during the day the sun shined brightly, but I must say it got quite cold at night. Visitors need to check the hours of the park carefully if they plan to visit during the holidays. Fortunately their website has all show schedules online so be sure to do your homework before you go. We stayed at Dollywood a full eight hours on a cold December day, but found that while it was cold, there were many places to warm up, great food, and tons of stuff to not only do but to see. The bald eagles were a favored exhibit of mine. I could not believe there were so many in this aviary! (They are the little white dots, you can see them all if you look closely). I have never seen this many bald eagles in one place before. Their cries resonated throughout the immediate area and I believe I could almost sit down and just listen to them all day. For me that would beat the rides any day. Of course, when and IF I go on rides I ride with my eyes closed so the whole experience is not too fun for me anyhow. The Jimster and Mr. Fix-it enjoyed the rides though.

As expected Dollywood was all dolled up in expectation for the holiday. The Christmas trees, friendly folks thinking only of Christmas, and super good shows made the experience of Dollywood pleasurable even in the dead of winter. I took tons of pictures and a few movies that will help us enjoy this vacation again and again. One of the trees in the park so stood out that it deserved its very own video. I call this tree the "Shooting Star" Christmas tree because the 'ornaments' hanging on it truly look like shooting stars. Take a look at the very short video below to see the most unique Christmas decorations I think you'll ever see. To see the tree in person was simply fabulous....

in the garden....visiting the Smokies for Christmas.

We are no longer in the Smokies but spent part of last month there. One more post will come about the trip.

One of the three reasons I blog is to make an archive or family album of our lives in order to share with family and friends that live far away, and also so I can refer back the memories anytime I wish. Hence the family post this morning. Thanks for reading along kind visitors.





video

30 comments:

  1. It's always such a pleasure to see Dolly on tv, she is so cute if there is such a thing for a 60 something lady. The tree is stunning, I'd like some of those lights myself, maybe someday they will be in the stores. Nice photo of Jimmy and Mr Fix-it.

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  2. I have never gone to Dollywood, but Christmas would be the perfect time to go. I do love the Smoky Mountains. We haven't been there in years--time to take a trip back I think!

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  3. Tina, what a wonderful time you had with your family. Have never been to Dollywood, thanks for sharing.

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  4. Glad you had such a good time with your family on this trip, Tina. Judging from the crowds we saw on our one trip to Gatlinburg back in October, you picked a good time to go, even if it was a little cold. Thanks for pointing out the "little white dots" in the photo--I could see some of the eagles after you pointed them out. That would have been worth the trip for me!

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  5. A warm welcome to you!!!! & a new year wish..... Looks like someone has totally rejuvenated..... TOTALLY A FAMILY AFFAIR!!!!!

    Ash...
    (http://asha-oceanichope.blogspot.com/)

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  6. I wish we would have visited Dollywood last time we were in the area.
    Marnie

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  7. Dollywood is a a lot of fun. I've only been there once but it was a neat place. If you're in the Smokies you should visit Cades Cove, that's one of my favorite places - along with the hiking trails.

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  8. Tina, It sure sounds like you had a wonderful month off! Not much sleeping in or lazying about...you guys were on the go having fun! Glad you are back! gail

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  9. I would never consider going to the Smokies other than in the summer, when the cool of the mountains would be so welcome. It's been 30 years, but I still remember the great scenery to the east of where you visited.

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  10. What a nice time! I can't imagine being outside for a long time today...guess I am a lightweight for the cold.
    I got my first helicopter ride when we went to the Grand Canyon 5 years ago...what a blast! Glad Jimster got a chance for a ride.

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  11. Sounds like the whole family had a blast. The Smokies are a fun place with lots to do.
    I like Cades Cove best also. We picnicked there on a fallen log once. Neat. A friend & I spread our blanket on the porch of one of the not so seen homes one yr. She had never seen Cades Cove. I really was glad of that as she went over the rainbow bridge the next yr.
    I'm glad you chose this magnificent place to spend part of your vacation.

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  12. It sounds like you had a great time and found quite the variety of things to do. I've seen Dollywood shown on TV and wondered what it was like in person. The shooting star tree is really pretty!

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  13. We here in Maine see the eagles all the time as they have made quite the comeback and are EVERWHERE but , with that being said even we do not see that many at one time. What an amazing sight that must have been. I also love the tree. Even so, the best part for me is seeing the great shot of my handsome grandson and son in law. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Mom, I've got another one of all of us coming on Friday. I figured out three reasons why I blog and two are to talk to you and friends and to make a family album/archive. It makes blogging a bit easier for me. So look for more photos too! I do think the photo of Mr. Fix-it and the Jimster came out well. We had such a good time!

    To everyone else, thanks so much for your kind comments. I've cut back on responding to comments. I will for sure talk to you on your blog or in email. Just know I learn from each of you-I have been told to visit Cades Cove by so many we simply must get there!

    P.S. Has anyone else been having trouble with Blotanical? I cannot access picks as the pages do not load. Stuart's help page says Blotanical is undergoing a major overhaul so I suspect that is it. I'm hoping he is taking away the rankings so I can opt out of that:) Let me know if anyone else is having issues with it please so I don't think it is just me?

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  15. Hi Tina,

    What wonderful memories you are creating and blogging about them is wonderful. My parents visited the Smokies and just loved it there. I hope to visit someday...

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  16. I have been to Dollywood only once and it was during the month of Dec also! We only visited the craft area and did not do the ride thing as we were with mine and the Saints parents. It was most cold the time we went but was beautiful with all the Christmas lights. The entire town is of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are wonderful during the Christmas season with all those decorations glowing. We have been to the topsy turvy Greek house but did not know they had a dinner theater as well. Must check that out some time. A helicopter ride over the mountains must be awesome! Great pic of Mr. Fixit and the Jimster! Glad you all had this special time together....

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  17. How funny, I just remembered I wrote in the last post of the mountains, that I have never been there beyond Oct. And here I go telling of being there during Dec. Ha, when I was there during Dec, I would say about 15 years ago, I did not take too much notice of trees and the such while on the drive. Now would be a different story....

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  18. Great picture and sounds like you all had a great time! Much warmer today -we went out walking while the kiddos were in school. Now, almost time to go get the little ones -big ones are in doing homework. Have a great week! Ciao

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  19. Cool about the helicopter mechanic hubster. My former husband is an air force chopper navigator while my brother in law does avionics and started out as a chopper mechanic. I've only been up in one helicopter and it was a big Bell firefighting one. Very cool, but I don't think I'd like the smaller ones.
    I've enjoyed your visit through the Smokies, a place I can only imagine.

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  20. Anonymous, Hello! I bet you were happy to go walking. It has been cold. When I went walking last week after the first mile my nose and cheeks froze-not a good thing. I'm glad it is warming up! Spring is near. Reports cards tomorrow-yeah!

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  21. Tina,
    it is our pleasure to see what you were up to during the holidays. that copter ride looks awesome! Lucky guys, my husband would be jealous as heck.
    Thanks for sharing !
    Rosey

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  22. What a beautiful tree. Here I thought you were hanging out at home, doing all the beautiful decorating I saw last holiday season. Turns out that wasn't true at all. Glad you had a good trip and month off.

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  23. Tina,
    I have heard of Dollywood, but never met anyone that had been there! Sounds like you had a great time too!

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  25. Thanks everyone for your kind comments about our vacation in the Smokies.

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  26. The Smokies and Dollywood are one of our favorite vacation destinations, but we've never gone in winter before. My favorite is to be there for fall colors at the end of October. Gorgeous!

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  27. Wow, everything sounds like you had a great time. An upside-down house? I think I've actually seen that on TV!

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  28. We used to vacation in the Smokies when I was a kid. Yikes that was before Dollywood was even built! Never went up in a helicopter there, though. Bet it was quite a ride!

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  29. What fun! I'd love to be around the eagles, too.

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