Rocky Top Tennessee (October 5 – 17, 2016)

On October 5th, we headed two hours south to Chattanooga, TN. We spent the next five days in the hills at the Raccoon Mountain RV Park and the weather was wonderful. The first day we headed to downtown Chattanooga and had a delicious brunch at the Bluegrass Grill, the #1 rated restaurant in TripAdvisor. We spent the following day at Rock City on Lookout Mountain. Rock City has trails that wind through large rock formations, including Fat Man Squeeze, and provides a view of seven states from Lovers’ Leap.

On Saturday, we had a family gathering, including Keith Schlegel, Lori and Bruce Davis, and Brittany and Caleb Dickerson, at our campsite to watch the Tennessee-Texas A&M football game on our outside entertainment center. Phil grilled pork chops and we ate outdoors at halftime.  During the game, we attracted a lot of neighbors who dropped by to watch the game with us. Although the Vols managed to come back from a large deficit, they ended up losing in overtime. Fortunately, the Cubs won their playoff game later that evening.

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On Sunday, we joined Brittany and Caleb for church, followed by brunch and a visit to the Chattanooga Market, a large weekly producer-only arts & crafts and farmers’ market. On Monday, Jan and Brittany spent a girls’ day out exploring Chattanooga and shopping.

On Tuesday, we met our sons, Jason and Jarrod, and Jessica Mollman for lunch. On Wednesday, October 12th, we packed up and drove to Sevierville, TN (pronounced Severe – vulle), just south of the Great Smoky Mountains.

We spent the next five days at Riverside Campground in Sevierville. During the drive from Chattanooga, Jan’s “check engine” light came on in her Nissan so getting the car serviced became our number one priority. We were able to get an appointment at the Nissan dealer in Knoxville on Thursday and got the problem fixed. It turned out there was a problem with the car’s onboard computer. It cost us $220 to get the computer reprogramed, not a fun expenditure but we were glad it wasn’t something more serious. Following the car maintenance, we visited the Bush Brothers Visitor Center in Chestnut Hill, TN where we watched an interesting film and explored numerous displays showing the Bush family history and explaining the processing and canning of baked beans.

On Friday, we drive to Cades Cove, an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The valley had been home to numerous settlers before the formation of the national park. We drove the 11-mile picturesque loop and stopped at many of the historical and scenic sights along the way. We were fortunate to spot a black bear and even more fortunate that it was moving away from us. On the way back to our rig, we drove past the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville.  On Friday evening, Jason got a ride with some friends and came to spend the weekend with us.

After breakfast on Saturday, we all headed out to the Fire Fox Adventure Park, which could best be described as a grownup’s playground. The 150 acre adventure park has 15 zip lines and America’s longest (335’) swinging bridge over the deep Foxfire Gorge. The swinging bridge is called the Bridge to Prosperity. Before crossing the bridge, we wrote down our wishes on “wishing strips.” All three of us wished for the Cubs to win the 2016 World Series. After crossing the bridge, we hung our wishes in the ceiling of a covered bridge. We then rang a bell that is supposed to attract the elves who will grant our wishes.  Another tradition dating back to the Scots-Irish settlers was to build piles of rocks, known as “cairns,” to bring health, wealth and prosperity. We each built our own cairn.

We hiked up to a waterfall, crossed over a series of smaller swinging bridges, then hiked along the river.

The hike brought us to an obstacle course. It was advertised as being for young people but Jason and Phil had a lot of fun climbing on the ropes, crossing the swinging balance beam and sliding on the zip line. We saw a couple of snakes. Finally, we came to a large pen where we saw a large bull and several llamas.

We got back to our campsite in time to watch Alabama rout the Vols. We had better luck that evening as we watched the Cubs beat the Dodgers in the opening game of the NLCS.

On Sunday morning, Jason left and we drove to Gatlinburg to mingle with the throngs of people shopping on the main street.

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