1. The government shutdown did not affect Smoky Mountain National Park as much as you would think. You could still drive up the mountain and pull off at all the overlooks to take pictures. There were cones and blockades at all the trailheads, but people just drove down the road, parked, and walked the trails anyway. The bathrooms were even open and stocked with toilet paper at Newfound Gap, much to the relief of Mom and me. As my Dad said, “It’s pretty hard to shut down a mountain.”
2. Gatlinburg in the fall is much different from the previous trips we have taken in the spring. The leaves are GORGEOUS, but there are a TON of people. Even with the park closed, there were people everywhere. I guess the trade-off for seeing nature’s autumn beauty is dealing with large crowds.
3. We had a super delicious lunch at Old Mill Pottery House Café in Pigeon Forge on Wednesday. They make their own bread, grind their own grain, and even make their own plates! Everything was yummy, but the coconut cream pie was UH-MAZ-ING! I think the meringue was a foot tall.
4. The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is ginormous! Mom and I spent an enjoyable two hours wandering around and seeing all the unique and creative crafts. I bought a pumpkin made from a sweater, a personalized family Christmas ornament, and a few Christmas presents.
5. We took Sammy to the indoor pool at our resort, and he had a blast! This was his first time going all the way in the pool, previously he had just sat on the steps and kicked his little feet.
6. Mike, Sammy, and I visited the Circle G Ranch Thursday, and I highly recommend it! I bought a Groupon for it last week and was a little concerned it would be a waste of money. We had so much fun on our drive-thru safari, seeing all the exotic animals and taking pictures. I think we will go back when Sammy is older and can enjoy it more. Also, next time we might ride in the Safari Truck, as the gravel roads were a little rough for poor Sylvia. (Sylvia is our Chevy Impala.)
7. Mike and I rented “Iron Man 3” and “World War Z” from the Redbox last night. My reviews: “Iron Man 3” was very exciting, funny, and generally enjoyable. Pepper Potts even gets in on the action! We will most definitely being adding this to our DVD collection in the near future. “World War Z” was equal parts engaging and terrifying. I have always seen zombies as goofy, slow, and not all that scary. Perhaps this is because the only zombie movies I have seen are also comedies- “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” The zombies in “World War Z” are a zombie of a different color. They are FAST and generally really frightening. The movie had me at the edge of my seat. The story draws you in and keeps you hooked. However, it will probably also give me nightmares. So, I would say this movie is not for someone who scares easy or has an intense fear of zombies- which I now do.