Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A visit with Jay and Duke...


I mentioned in yesterday's post about passing the Bush bean factory on the way to our campground.  Since we didn't see the Visitors Center until we were already past it, AND there was no place in the next 10 miles to turn our rig around, I promised Joan that we'd go back today.

Who knew it would be such an attraction?  The parking lot was packed...



Of course, a couple photos with my buds, Jay and Duke...



The white building in the top photo is their cafe, the wood building further back in the Visitors Center, which is absolutely first class...




They no longer do a tour of the actual factory (we have run into that with all the "food place visitors centers"), but they have an outstanding 18 minute film showing the history and how the beans are made and canned...


They take a photo of you with Duke - and give you a print - no charge!  Good PR...


They have made a lot of other products over the years besided baked beans...



The "secret family recipe, protected by lazer alarms...


;-)    And, a gift shop (of course)...



If the photos don't show it for you, imagine an upscale gift area at a Cracker Barrel.  ;-)  We did not leave empty-handed.

We drove back into Pigeon Forge for a late lunch, then cruised around town.  I made Joan laugh when I described this place as: a countrified Las Vegas.  She said, "That is exactly what I was thinking."

The photos from last night's post didn't do it justice.  Neither do these, but it is what I was able to get with all the traffic...




From there, we drove through a small piece of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and into Gatlinburg.  This is definitely the "old version" of Pigeon Forge.  In Pigeon Forge, there isn't a building that looks more than 10 years old... in Gatlinburg, we didn't see any new looking buildings.  May be the fact that Gatlinburg is in a gulch and Pigeon Forge is in a wide open valley - would sure make building easier and the businesses more visible.

Either way, it is all a bit more touristy than we care for, but you could certainly keep a family occupied for an entire vacation here.


Monday, August 21, 2017

After the eclipse (Who knew this was all here??)...




After working up the eclipse photos, we decided to get out and about for a few hours.  Joan said to me, "There is a lot of Pigeon Forge we didn't see on the way in - should be any kind of food you want to eat."

I thought she was kidding.  I was wrong.  Really wrong.

We came in on a "back road" to the campground; drove right past the entrance to Dollywood.  I thought that was all there was to Pigeon Forge.  Yep, really wrong again.

When we got onto the main drag, it was about 4 miles of tourist traps: at least a dozen mini-golf places, outlet malls, an endless range of restaurants, more old time photo places than I can count on both hands, a NASCAR-themed amusement park, hotels and motels as far as the eye can see.  It reminds me of Branson, Missouri, but newer and in a valley... so everything is reasonably on the level compared to Branson, where everything is in the hills.

I gawked.  Probably said, "Hoooooweeee," more than a few times.  Lots of traffic.

We did some shopping.  Went out for supper.  Had a guy from New York driving a minivan nearly T-bone us (I was quick on the brakes).  All that fun kinda stuff.

I didn't think to shoot any photos while driving through, and before supper.  This is Tourist Central.  I handed Joan the camera on the way back to the campground and said, "See if you can get a few shots to show all this touristy stuff."  Probably too late as we had driven back past most of it.





An eclipse preview...


Taken in our RV site, where we have about "98% of total" (and not having to fight crowds)...


-----------------

And now, the rest of the story:

The traffic was a bit crazy leaving Asheville...


Joan did a fine job of navigating, and kept me informed about expected slow-downs ahead...


An hour or so down the road, and we were in the clear...


Apparently, there is an eclipse or something today.  ^^


A short drive today, only 100 miles or so.  With all the craziness surrounding the eclipse, we just wanted to get somewhere down the road, with a decent RV park...



We passed by the Bush (as in: beans!) factory and Visitors Center...



We didn't stop today, but I think we'll swing back by there tomorrow.  We rolled into Pigeon Forge and our stop for the night.  I was concerned we might not find a place, but this park (nicer than the last one) is large and has plenty of sites available.  It is a warm (90ยบ+) and humid day - I got the electricity plugged in right away, then we set up the rest of our hookups.  Little Izzy got to explore (on her leash, of course) while we worked...


Programming for the local cable channels, it is "Eclipse Fever" on all the local channels.  We are about 30 miles from the path of totality, and that is fine for us.  The nice lady at the office suggested that a park next door would be a good place for viewing... we decided our RV site would work just fine.



Checking the timing for the eclipse here...


On the local TV coverage (further west)...
 

Joan with our "safety viewer"...


And, here it comes...
 

Trying our small tripod...


Holding the viewer over her phone (yes, that works)...




The bokeh (light filtering through the leaves) on the ground - check out the shape...


Almost there...


The peak in our area...


That's what 98% looks like (and no safety filter).

While the sun was behind the moon, it looked like sunset all around us, and the crickets started chirping, the birds were squawking... kinda cool.


Getting to the other side...






And... it was over.  About a minute and a half where the sun was mostly covered.  A LOT of hype for the time involved.  We heard that places 30 miles from us (in "the path") that were packed, over-charging, and terrible traffic and crowds.

Isabella came inside before we did...


She said, "It is hot out there - you people are crazy."  She may have a point... she also didn't need any special viewer, because cats are smart enough to not look directly at the sun.  ;-)

We came inside shortly after.  The TV newscasters are trying to find stuff to talk about: "Well, the eclipse is over, but there are still a lot of people here..." (maybe because it is bumper to bumper traffic?).

I am delighted that we were able to experience it "in our own back yard."

:-)