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I have been Gatlinburg, TN a couple times now. It is mainly a mile long tourist trap. The main drag is lined with many shops with a proportion selling things like t-shirts, cheap jewelry, and candy. There are also many little attraction type things including Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, Ripley’s Moving Theater 4D, Ripley’s Aquarium Of The Smokies, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Davy Crokett Mini-Golf, Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Guinness World Records Museum, and a ski lift ride hat will take you to the top of a local hill. There is a also a place called Ober Gatliburg that includes an aerial tram ride, and some amusment type rides aimed at kids.
There are constant remiders that you are in the bible-belt as you will see tons of jesus related t-shirts in the shop windows. Interestingly, there are also t-shirts promoting whiskey and large breasted women.
Driving through Gatlinburg, TN is a pain! It seems that there is always someone driving 10 miles or more below the speed limit for no apparent reason. So if the speed limit is 25 miles per hour, they drive about 10-15mph. If the speed limit is 15mph, they drive 5mph. And I have behind at least a couple people that refused to make a left on a green light when they had plenty of opportunity, instead wating for the next cycle, and a green arrow!
There are little booths scattered around town offering tickets for things like Dollywood, and some comedy club.
There are many restaurants in town. While there is a McDonalds, Burger Kings, Subway, and KFC, most of the places are local. There seem to be at least a half dozen pancake houses crammed into this small town. There are a couple barbeque places, a seafood place, and some steak places.
There are also many, many hotels, inns, and motels scattered around.
Since Gatlinburg is located on the edge of the Smoky Mountains, there is a ton of hiking opportunities. There is a great little shop in town named The Happy Hiker for your hiking needs.
Prices are kind of high for some things. I paid over $10 for a small bottle of sun-screen. And shopping for some stuff is limited in Gatlinburg itself. I wanted a new mouse for my laptop, and found that there was a Wal-Mart about 12 miles away in Sevierville. I found another store farther away in Knoxville as well. I drove the the Wal Mart in Seiverville. This was a mistake! I had to drive through Pigeon Forge to get the Sevierville. I was in stop and go traffic most of the way to Sevierville and it took me almost an hour and a half to get there. It took me about an hour to get back to Gatlinburg. I would have been better off driving into Knoxville! Avoid driving new Pigeon Forge or Sevierville if you can.

The Park Vista Resort Hotel is located up on a hill overlooking Gatlinburg, TN. The hotel is cylindrical with all of the room being on the outside. This also means every room has a balcony with a view. And not just a view, but a great view! Since all of the rooms are on the outside, the center of the hotal is open allowing you all the way down to the lobby.
The rooms are pretty basic with a couple double beds, a desk, dresser, night stand, bathroom, TV. The TV channels include HBO and Starz.
The hotel has a restaurant named Eleanor’s, and there is also room service. I had dinner in the restaurant, and the service was okay, but not great. I loved the caesar salad, but was disappointed by the rib-eye steak. The vegatables consisted on carrots and beans (I think lima beans), and were kind of bland.
Breakfast in the restaurant was much better. They had a buffet, and a chef will makes eggs and omelettes to order. Getting the check took a while all three times I ate there.
The rooms are equiped with dialup internet, but also wi-fi. I generally seem to get a decent wi-fi signal on the 9th floor, but it seems to fade sometimes.
The hotel has large conference rooms downstairs equiped with dividers.
There is also a pool area. There are two pools, and a hot tub. I never used the pools, but I spent some time in the hot tub. The pool area is indoors which is very nice.
The dividers can be closed to make the large rooms into smaller rooms.
One annoyance is that I cannot call home to Rochester, NY. The phones say to dial 8 + 1 + Area Code + Phone number. When I did this, I got a slow busy signal before I was done dialing the number. I called the desk, and they told me the instructions are old, and I need to dial a 9. I dialed 9+1+area code+phone number, and got a message saying that it was not necessary to dial the 1. I tried 9+area code+phone, and got a message saying the call couldn’t be completed. I went down to the desk, and they did not know what the problem was. I had the same problem last year at this hotel. Apparently they haven’t solved it. Their telecommunications people didn’t know what the problem was. One of the guys at the desk let me use his cell phone, and I called my wife, and had her call in to the room. She wass able to call me. I told anotehr desk guy about the problem as I was checking out. I think he was going to look into it. I guess I will see if the problem is fixed if I make back next year. My guess is their system doesn’t recognize the 585 area code. Our area code used to be 716, but they split it around 2002.

I had passed by Bennett’s Pit Barb-B-Que (714 River Road, Gatlinburg, TN, 865-436-2400) while in town, and was intrigued. I love good BBQ and will try different places to see how they are. My first impression was not good. I pulled into the small parking lot, and found it full except for two spots. Both spots were partly occupied but rude buttheads who couldn’t park straight, leaving room enough for maybe a Mini Cooper to park. Seeing as I was driving a rented Ford Focus and not a Mini Cooper, I didn’t even attempt to park there. Ticked off, I prepared to leave, and go some place else. But as I passed the front of the restaurant, I saw a single open space on the street. Parking seems to premuim in Gatlinburg unless you want to pay for it. Anyway, I parked there, and went in.
The sign out front said immediate seating available, so I was suprised to see a crowd of people waiting to get in. It turned out they were a large group. I went to front gave my name, and had my name called within about a minute. The woman who seated me asked how I was doing. I told her that I was having a rotten day, and that I had just spent two and a half hours round trip to go to the Wal-Mart in Sevierville. She told the waitress to take care of me. I ordered a Diet Coke, and asked what the speciallty was. It turned out to be the BBQ ribs. I ordered the ribs. It mentioned they came with a couple Hush Puppies. I asked what Hush Puppies were, and the waitress (a sweet Romanian girl) brought me a small plate of them. They are a deep fried corn bread ball. Pretty good.

Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que

The ribs themselves were good. Pretty basic BBQ ribs. Nothing special, but good. I got to choose a couple sides, so I chose BBQ beans, and french fries. These were also good.
The food was good. Nothing that really stood out, but solidly good. BUT the service was outstanding! My glass of Diet Coke was kept full.
I would probably eat there the next time I am in Gatlinburg, TN.

Imagine watching Field Of Dreams in the middle of an Iowa baseball field. Or watching The Poseidon Adventure from the ballroom of the HMS Queen Mary. It is possible with The Netflix Rolling Roadshow. Netflix has organized a showing of 10 different movies in locations relevent to the films.
I wish I was going to be near one of the sites, but unfortunatly I will not be. But it does sound really cool. Maybe they will do it again in the future.

Here is a list of showings for August:

August 2
The Warriors
Asser Levy Park, Coney Island, NY

August 5
State Beach on Martha’s Vinyard, Mass

August 8
Quick Stop in Leonardo, NJ

August 11
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Cedar Lane water tower in Northbrook, IL

August 12
Field Of Dreams
baseball field in Dyersville, Iowa

August 16
The Shining
Stanley Park Hotel, Estes Park, CO

August 18
The Searchers
Gouldings Lodge, Monument Valley, AZ

August 20
Raising Arizona
Lost Dutchman State Park, Tucson, AZ

August 24
The Poseidon Adventure
ballroom of the HMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA

August 26
Escape From Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA

Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See: My Story by Erik Weihenmayer

SUMMARY: Excellent climbing book about a blind mountain climber named Erik Weihenmayer. Make sure you get the later edition with the Mt. Everest chapter.

I love reading a good mountain climbing book. And this is a very good one. I have actually read it twice now. Okay…I listened to it as a book on cd twice now.
In the first edition of the book he does various rock climbs including El Capitan, climbs McKinley, and Aconcagua. In a later edition, there is an added chapter about his climbing Mt Everest.
Erik became blind at a young age due to a rare eye disease called retinoschisis. Even though he was blind, was able to compete as a high school wrestler and even became the wrestling team captain.
The book was made into a TV movie of the same name. I watched the movie, and it was very good. It followed the book pretty well, but largely focused on the Everest climb.
If you like reading mountian climbing books such as Into Thin Air, you will probably like this book.
Read more…

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