Friday, July 6, 2012

Christ in the Smokies

Christ in the Smokies, is located on the former Christus Gardens property, on River Road in Gatlinburg. Apparently there was such an overflow of letters and complaints that followed the closing of Christus Gardens, that Christ in the Smokies was opened. 

To begin, you are first seated on pews in a small room and watch a short video about the tour. You then walk through about 12 different scenes from the life of Christ. It's very dark inside (and wonderfully air-conditioned in July!) and you stop at each scene. It then "comes on" and talks about the scene you are viewing with bible verse and music. Then when the light goes off, you move onto the next one and it lights up and narrates the scene before you. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, you will not enjoy this. Jeff couldn't understand each scene. It is actually word-for-word scriptures they read for each scene. It would be nice if they had it in print on a plaque at each scene for those who can't hear it.

At the end of the tour, you end up at a greenhouse with flowers & trees and the Jesus sculpture that they are known for. It is a bit eerie how His eyes follow you across the walkway. :) We were disappointed in the tiny garden area with very few plants.

It was very quiet and nice and then bright into the sunlight.  There is then a room with displays of ancient coins and precious gems from the days of Christ & also an original page from a 1611 King James bible. You then walk though a room with pictures of Hollywood movies made about Christ. Your final walk takes you through the gift shop. It takes about 40 minutes to tour.

After the first scene, I did notice there was atleast one bench in every room for those who have problems standing for a short amount of time. There was plenty of scooter space and everything is accessible except for the New Testament Theatre which you can see into when you first enter the building. Because it was originally built about 50 years ago, the restrooms are not handicap accessible. If you are on a scooter and are able to walk a few steps, you can access the two small stalls. Those in wheelchairs will have no is a very small bathroom. It could be renovated to make a handicap stall, but it was originally built before ADA laws.

You are not allowed to take pictures in the museum at all. You are allowed to take pictures in the garden. We thought there would be more to it, and perhaps it was just a tad overpriced for what you got. (Tickets are $12.00 for adults, $6.00 for children). We also thought there would be more gardens (since it is advertised as a museum and gardens), but it is just pretty much the one little greenhouse part. Reviews online range all over the place, but after seeing for ourselves, we would have to say it was nice overall (even if a tad overpriced and smells a bit musty in have to remember it is over 50 years old.) If you have allergies to dust and mold, this is NOT the place to visit. I suspect it has to do with the age of the place and the fact that it sits on the Little Pigeon River.

They do have complimentary parking for museum patrons OR they also have $5 parking all day for non-guests which might be nice to remember if you're visiting Gatlinburg. One note we have to make is that the staff was very friendly.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Smoky Mountain Brewery

We try to find new places to try out and find out about their handicap accessibility. Since we had never eaten here, we scanned the menu outside the door and found they have a small vegetarian section. Oh yay! Let's try it out.

From their website: "We have an informal area on the ground floor which seats up to 35 guests. This area is open to the lobby and kitchen service window. The main dining room, bar and lounge are located upstairs on the second floor."  Translation: If you are handicap, you will be sitting on the bottom floor where you enter the restaurant which looks into the kitchen. You will literally be sitting next to pallets of "barley & hops" for their beer-making which they do. I expected to see that where they make the beer in the back, but not sitting next to the dining tables. We would have loved to have seen the main dining area and the decor, but it is upstairs. Well, ok, atleast we have seating in the restaurant.

We ordered our drinks and looked over the menu. As we waited, and it did take quite awhile for the waitress to come back with our drinks even though this was right after lunch and they weren't that busy, we could see into the kitchen. Now you know what they say...if you could see into any restaurant kitchen you would never eat there again! I would love to say that this was the exception to the rule. But no. The cook coughing over the food was bad enough, but not the worst. I don't know what the health code laws are in TN, but I'm thinking VA must be stricter. For example, people with long hair have to have it pinned up and/or in a hair net. Not the case in TN I'm guessing from what I saw. I don't know about others, but hair in food grosses me out just as bad as anything. You're not going to believe what we witnessed. Our waitress brought a pizza back to the kitchen from upstairs and told the cook he put some topping on it that wasn't supposed to be there. She then proceeded to pick it off with her bare hands, told the cook to throw some cheese on it to cover it up, and she'd serve it back to them. Ok, we were grossed out by her hands all over the pizza, but I'm thinking about the poor person who ordered it. What if they're allergic to whatever she just picked off? The residue is still on there, even if it is now covered in more cheese to hide it.

Yeah, we zipped out of there before you could say "holy smoky mountains!" We left our drinks and ran!  Yikes. I hope this was some freak isolated event, but it doesn't matter to us. We will never eat here after what we saw. Oh, and I didn't even get to find out if there were any restrooms on the bottom floor for the patrons there. I don't think there was.
Really? I think not.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gatlinburg Midnight Parade

A few highlights from the midnight parade. Gatlinburg has their parade at 12:01am on the 4th. People place chairs up and down the street on the morning of the 3rd to reserve their place upfront on the sidewalk. We're still amazed after all these years that no ones steals the chairs! By 10pm you had better be staked out waiting on the parade or you're not going to be near the front of the street to see anything. Around 11:45 pm, the main street is closed and everyone is lined up, usually about 4 rows deep of people, waiting on the parade. Usually they say there's about 100,000 visitors for the parade. Pretty impressive for a small town! It generally lasts until atleast 1:30am.
Sweet Frog is new in the Smokies!
Cirque de chine
It's Tennesee! You have to have atleast one Dolly impersonater! ;)
Now that's a whole new meaning to "drinking and driving"
 Grand marshals for the parade included members of the Tuskegee Airman Association from Atlanta, Ga. and from Louisville, Ky.
Got to start the parade with the fire trucks
Ripley's Aquarium
The Comedy Barn, Pigeon Forge

and Sheri's in kilts ;)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gatlinburg celebrates the 4th

Front of Ripley's Aquarium
Front sidewalk of Ripley's
All the chairs lined up waiting on the parade tonight

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom at night
We are seriously in love with this place. In fact, we usually eat here at least twice when we're in town. Yeah, it's that good. Their hoagies are good and the pizza is awesome. You have to check out their menu. We haven't tried their calzones, but if they're anything like the pizza, they're super. No matter what time of day we've eaten here, we've never had to wait long.

The one in Gatlinburg is located across the street from Bubba Gump's in the Ole Smoky Moonshine plaza. The restaurant is upstairs, so to access it if you're handicap, go to the very back of the plaza where the moonshine tasting is (yeah, that's another post! LOL) and there is an elevator that is big enough for Sheri's scooter (and that's saying something). When you come off the elevator, just hang to the right and the entrance is near the street end of the building. They always see us coming and someone is always there to greet us and open the door, it doesn't seem to matter how busy they are.

Plenty of handicap space! And unlike many places in Gatlinburg, the restrooms are up to date in space for handicap folks.  There is also a Mellow Mushroom located in Pigeon Forge, almost directly across from The Christmas Place.

Jeff looking serious...or maybe he's tired from driving down today?

Well, Sheri is ready for a vacation! Bring it on!

Gatlinburg here we come!

We arrived in Gatlinburg to sweltering hot weather of 105 degrees! Somehow I thought this would be a nice vacation break. It sounds like it would be cooler in the mountains, right? Gatlinburg, like the rest of the US, has been having record breaking high temperatures for the last two weeks.

After checking into our motel, and cranking the AC on HIGH, we decided to scooter around a bit and see what's changed since the last time we were in town. Naturally with the economy we've had the past few years, a few places have closed--it's always interesting to see what new places have taken their place. Every year I ask the same question: How many t-shirt places does one tourist town need? Apparently there's always room for one more. I saw this one in a Tennesee Jerky store and after my "ewwww, that's just wrong!" I had to snap a picture. Jerky stores are big in Gatlinburg and they sell your usual beef and turkey plus elk, trout, salmon, alligator, and other "wild" meats.