Five on Friday – The Final Snaps

It’s Friday! Who else is glad to see this weekend arrive – the final weekend in June! I cannot believe that; I feel like this year is passing faster than last year. I guess that’s how it works, isn’t it? I decided I’d share the final pictures from my weekend spent in Gatlinburg for this week’s Five on Friday! 
One. The Island – The Island is a shopping and dining area in Pigeon Forge; it also has a gigantic ferris wheel and fountains that “dance” to music every hour and half hour. Paula Deen’s restaurant is located at the Island and we had breakfast there on Sunday morning. Normally I would say I have never eaten somewhere so delicious as Paula Deen’s – but I’ve only had lunch….

Don’t get me wrong – the food was good. However, out of the three places we had breakfast over the weekend – this one would have to be at the bottom of the list. We perused a couple of the shops and watched the fountains before heading over to the Alpine Coaster and to do some shopping at the Tanger outlets!

Two. Pirates Voyage – As something of a last minute decision we decided to do the Pirates Voyage Dinner Show and because the shows are being seated at 50% capacity, we ended up getting tickets to a 3 PM show on Sunday afternoon. I’m not usually a huge fan of dinner shows – but I do love pirates and so I figured it would be pretty entertaining!

I got myself a cocktail with rum – all the cocktails had rum, of course – and the mug that looks like a skull was pretty cool too, ha-ha! The show itself was really good, filled with acrobatics, diving, sword fighting and more! There was even a sea lion that performs some tricks!

It was definitely a good way to spend a couple hours and I’m sure if you were a little kid, it was probably all the more intriguing and entertaining… because you know, when you’re little – you think it’s all real!  

Three. Hillbilly Golf – The weather was little certain on Sunday afternoon but we decided to head back toward Gatlinburg with the intention of playing Hillbilly Golf and then riding the Sky Lift up to the Suspension Bridge… the best intentions… *sigh*

We did get in a game of Hillbilly Golf – which I would recommend as a really good option if you’re looking to goofy golf while in the Smokies – the price is right, the course is well maintained and you also get to ride a funicular up the side of the mountain to get to the course! What’s not to love? It started pouring around the fourth hole but thankfully it only lasted a few minutes and then we continued putting our way down the mountain.

Let me brag on myself and tell you – I did get a hole in one on hole sixteen! I was pretty pleased with that, ha-ha! Once we finished playing our golf game we decided to go change into sneakers before walking to the Sky Lifts… but alas – that didn’t quite work out the way we planned.

Four. Here Comes the Boom – After a check of the weather at the room we discovered that within the next hour a huge storm was forecast to descend on Gatlinburg and so we decided to try and pop into some shops in the time that we had! Sure enough – after a few shops and trying some wine at a winery on the main drag… we saw the clouds rolling over the mountains and soon after – the rain started!

Five. And Then Some – Of course, the rain halted the rest of the evenings plans and so we ended up going back to the hotel where we got an evening snack and I talked with the parrot in the lobby – named Rita!

Monday morning we got up and had breakfast at one of our favorite spots – Pancake Pantry! It’s become a bit of a tradition to have breakfast there on the morning we head home from the Smokies and it never disappoints! I got the Black Walnut Orange Pancakes and they were divine! The walnuts and orange balanced out the sweetness and they were just the very best – they may jump to the top of the list of favorites! 

So – that’s that! It’s the final weekend of June and I’m not sure what all I’ll be getting up to this weekend but I think the weather looks promising (if not that cool). Y’all enjoy! 

Traffic Though…

Saturday – I have to say again that I have been to this area at least a hundred times (maybe more) and I cannot remember it ever being so crowded in all my life! We had breakfast at a new(ish) restaurant called Crockett’s Breakfast Camp… we had to wait an hour to be seated but man – the food was delicious! They have cinnamon rolls that are the size of my head – we ordered one to split but didn’t manage to finish it – everything else was too delicious!

We had the whole day planned – we’d take the new portion of Foothills Parkway over to Townsend, drive through Cades Cove and then up to Clingman’s Dome before returning to the hotel to change and meet friends for dinner at 6:00. Y’all – because of the traffic, we started and drove the Foothills Parkway but from there – it all fell apart.

It was about 12:45 when we reached the point where we had to turn right to go to Cades Cove or left to Clingman’s Dome – and decided if we could only do one – we’d go right and head for Clingman’s Dome. All was going well until about five miles from Newfound Gap (with still an additional 6-7 miles to Clingman’s Dome) the traffic came to a standstill. The black bears have been pretty visible recently and we assumed that was what caused the stall – but nope. When we’d only gone a mile in 35 minutes and the traffic showed no signs of letting up – we turned back. *sigh*

We stopped on the way back down the mountain at a couple different view points – in particular the viewpoint for Chimney Tops – I’ve always wanted to complete that hike. It’s on the list! We decided that since we wanted to do something outside and take advantage of the lovely weather, so we stopped at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ended up doing the short hike to Cataract Falls for some outdoor time and views!

I slipped my shoes off and waded through the pool at the base of the little waterfall and while snapping pictures, I discovered a wee salamander clinging to a rock in the pool! As we made our way back, my Dad and I veered off to do an additional portion of hiking to a cabin in the woods – it was only about an additional half mile but well worth taking the little trail through the woods to see the cabin appear through the trees.

We ended up having issues again later in the evening when we had to push back dinner with friends because of the traffic in Gatlinburg – I ended up hopping out of the car; trapped in traffic, and walked back to the hotel and took a shower before my family ended up getting back! *facepalm* We took an alternate route to meet our friends for dinner and got stopped because of a terrible wreck that we came on – five people loaded onto stretchers – it was terrible!
We finally met up with our family friends who are like extra grandparents and had dinner with them before returning to their house for dessert and coffee! We made our way back to the hotel at the end of the night and reminisced on how much we’d planned to do… and how little we actually got to do – but then we’d made the best of the situation! 

Watson Wednesday

I always miss my little fuzzball when I go out of town – and it was good to see his little self again!
I brought him back a cookie from a Dog Bakery – called the Barkery – in the shape of a bear, since that’s the theme of the mountains! He devoured it in about 10 minutes or less…

Hits & Misses

It’s Tuesday and back to the Daily Grind of day to day life – but it was awfully nice to have four days of doing nothing and just exploring the countryside in Tennessee (and a wee bit of Virginia). We made a short stop in Bristol (I’m not sure if we were in the Virginia or Tennessee portion) on Friday morning to get breakfast at the Blackbird Bakery – where my reserves crumbled and I had a Chocolate Covered Cream filled Donut… and a Cherry Filled Donut for breakfast! *sigh*
That was 100% the most sugar I’ve had in a long time – it made my heart race just a little bit, ha-ha! We arrived in Pigeon Forge around lunch time and stopped in at Huck Finn’s Catfish Cabin for a quick lunch… and it was the first time I’ve had fried chicken in months! I was hitting all the high points where food was concerned – donuts, fried food – yes please!
Please note that there were signs all over Gatlinburg that looked like the one below – which was absolutely laughable because there were people everywhere and not a single person was worried about practicing social distancing.
We planned to drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and hike to Grotto Falls… and we were able to do one of those things but not the other. It started to pour right about the time we got to the trail-head for Grotto Falls and since it was absolutely pouring, we decided a 2+ mile hike wasn’t a great idea in the downpour. Of course – twenty minutes later – the rain was completely gone. However, you make the most of a situation… so we found plenty of other sights and sounds along the Trail.
We stayed at Margaritaville – which is a very beach-y location for the middle of the mountains – but it was also a really nice hotel! It tickled me a little bit that there were palm trees, boats and parrots everywhere… but it also smelled very beach-y and the music was good, ha-ha!
We had dinner at a restaurant in downtown Gatlinburg called Best Italian; my Aunt recommended it and the food was divine! The drinks were also delicious, ha-ha! After dinner we made our way through the crowds of people to Anakeesta and rode the chair lifts up to the top of the mountainside. I am not great with heights – so I was pretty pleased with myself just riding in the chair lift like a champ!
Anakeesta is still a fairly new spot in Gatlinburg but I really love it! It is just like a little town on the top of the mountain with shops, a restaurant (and another being built), a garden and all kinds of outdoor activities. I really enjoy going up to Anakeesta and this time they had added some new things – like a ropes course and a tower called the Anavista Tower – which had some really incredible views!
They also have these things called Treeigloos – they were pretty neat to check out! Honestly, the whole place is so very fascinating to me and I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. I went through some of the ropes course and walked along a tight rope and enjoyed watching the sun begin to set before cruising back down the mountain…
It was a good way to start the weekend – easily one of the better Friday(s) that I’ve had in a while! 

Thursday Things

I will be on a long weekend style vacation that begins later this afternoon, so instead of Five on Friday I’m doing some things I am loving on this Thursday… coincidentally there are five things. I don’t plan it that way – I’m just that good!
Fire in the Sky – The sunset on Tuesday night was pretty spectacular… I don’t know that my iPhone can ever truly do sunsets justice. Granted, I don’t know that pictures can ever truly capture the grandeur of nature – but I’m still going to try.
Those pictures were taken as the sun was setting – the light through the front door turned the whole entry a bright orange shade that was impossible to capture in a picture. *sigh* So gorgeous! 
On the Mend – My sweet little puppy dog is recovering from a bladder infection! He went to the vet on Monday afternoon and came home with a whole arsenal of medication that he’s taking daily like a champ! He also got his rabies vaccination, so I’m sure he’s not super pleased with me at this point.
I guess going to the vet is tiring because I took this picture of him on Monday night and he was out like a light!
Matchy Matchy – I painted my toenails with a color that has Coral in the name… but after walking in the backyard at my parent’s and spying the roses that were in bloom, I think the polish would be more appropriately named for the almost hot pink blooms!

Blast from the Past – Oh man… I went on a trip back in time earlier this week when I decided to peruse my scrapbooks from high school! I know that I remember when I was in high school I thought I was terribly fat and I look at this picture and just crack up…. I wish I could be that “fat” again.

I’m sure it’s those crazy teenager hormones that make everything seem so intense and much more exaggerated than it actually is. It’s no wonder my Mom used to look at me like I was nuts when I’d say things like that! This picture is from the morning of Junior Prom! Wow! 
A Few Laughs – Last but not least, a few things that have made me laugh this week. My friend text me earlier this week and said that someone could announce there was a zombie apocalypse and at this point – we’d probably all believe them. She’s not wrong.

So that’s what I’ve got for this Thursday – or as I like to also call it: Friday Eve! I’ll be in the mountains (of Tennessee as opposed to Virginia) for the weekend and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of pictures once I return! 
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! 

A Relaxing Weekend

I mostly have pictures on this lovely Monday morning. It was a good weekend; a restful weekend and I didn’t do much but that was nice. Every once in a while you need that peaceful weekend with not much on the agenda and that was this weekend – and of course, next weekend I will be out of town – so there will be plenty to do next weekend!
Friday afternoon I got off work early and was able to get in some exercise before freshening myself up and joining my parents for dinner at Griffin Tavern, which is in Flint Hill, nearby and with a drive that curves through the valley with the ridges of the mountains climbing in the distance. It’s lovely.
The food was delicious but definitely not exactly diet friendly – I had the most delicious burger with Swiss cheese, garlic aoili, bacon and caramelized onions – I ate every bite and it was divine! It dictated how I ate for most of the rest of the weekend but you know what? It was absolutely worth it!

We popped into a local farm store – it wasn’t much to my taste because it was mostly filled with farm equipment and very… rustic and redneck-y things that just aren’t really my taste. But they did have baby chicks and I was very tempted to snatch one up and make a run for it, ha-ha!

Saturday was a gorgeous day and the weather was absolutely beautiful – only about 75 out, a blue sky and big fluffy clouds! I had just one cup of coffee… and decided that at about 9:30 I was going to head out and get in my exercise for the day by walking to the lake and back – which is a little over three miles! Armed with some water in a pocket of my leggings, tunes in my ears and my Nationals cap on my head – I struck out!

The lake is so beautiful – sparkling under the sunshine and stretching out in all directions in blue and ripples. I also snapped a picture of wildflowers climbing up the hill and came to the conclusion that the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean is an excellent soundtrack for exercise!
I found myself joining Watson under a shade tree in the backyard to have a smoothie after my jaunt around the neighborhood and the rest of the afternoon and evening passed rather quickly – lunch, a run to Costco where I wore one of the now FOUR face masks that I own, purchasing a new chair to replace the broken one, dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse – where I became that person that carries spray butter in their purse – and looking at flowers at Lowe’s.
That plant above is called Dragon’s Breath and I kind of love it! Too bad it was only for sale in giant ceramic pots that I have no need for… and I’m not exactly a green thumb as it is! Sunday started out dreary and was actually chilly enough that I ended up wearing long sleeves to church and froze through Brunch at Regions 117! The food though – was divine as usual – Black Bean Soup and French Toast with a Fruit Coulie and Vanilla Bean Cream – *sigh* I’m dreaming about it as I type.
The sun came out after lunch and I passed the afternoon talking to my sister in the U.K., painting my toenails, making a Target run, having dinner and watching a little Prop Culture on Disney Plus. Watson was not really feeling the end of the weekend arriving – although that may have more to do with his vet appointment today? *shrugs* 
Happily – I have a four day work week and I discovered that with the way my weeks are lined up, I’ve managed to secure myself a four day work week for the next three weeks in a row! So – happy Monday to myself indeed!

Five on Friday

One. Grilled Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich – I stumbled onto this little recipe on Pinterest and knew immediately that I had to give it a try for myself! If there is one thing I love, it’s peanut butter and combining it with banana, ha-ha! I spread some peanut butter on both slices of bread, topped it with banana slices and a drizzle of honey before “grilling” it in a skillet.
It was – DIVINE. And now I will be planning to eat one a week, at least! It’s on my new favorite foods list, ha-ha! 
Two. Aggravation – I have discovered a new game and I kind of love it! That’s saying a lot because I’m not typically a game person but this one is easy, fast-paced and fun! Our dear friend Greg hand-made the board game and it’s absolutely beautiful! The game is all dice rolls and movements and once you get going, it moves at a pretty quick speed!
If you’d like to check out the game and potentially get one of your own, you can find them at Lobo Woodworks – Greg makes some great things! I’d highly recommend that you grab an Aggravation game board for yourself, it’s too fun!
Three. Travel Plans – Oh my goodness, I am finally doing a wee bit of traveling and I could not be more excited! I’m joining my family for a little road trip for a long weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for Father’s Day weekend. I grew up going to Gatlinburg and it’s a family favorite spot – it’s always changing and there is always something new to see, alongside the old favorites! 

Gatlinburg Day Trips: Where to Go & Why
I am so thrilled to get away for a few days and be somewhere different – with fun places to explore and unique “tourist-y” restaurants! It will be nice to see Gatlinburg again and just have a couple days of different, fun and relaxation! 

Four. Bicycle – Well. The old adage about “just like riding a bicycle” is true but man, when you’re an adult it seems like there is a lot farther to fall if you crash! I started riding my bike again a couple months back as a way to break up walking/using the elliptical and last night, I biked a little over five miles!

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It’s not easy to climb the hills and sometimes I have to give myself pep talks to finish the climb – but I am slowly but surely getting better and it’s getting easier to climb those hills! My Dad and I are even talking about doing a 9 mile ride in the future – and that doesn’t even sound so bad! 

Five. Weekend Plans – Another weekend is upon us and I am looking forward to it! I’m not sure what all I’ll get up to but I have plans to pop over to West Virginia to drop off a chair, see a friend and explore just a bit. I’ll go to church on Sunday and maybe find somewhere to get outside… although right now the forecast is saying it’s going to rain on Sunday.

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I’m definitely looking forward to next weekend because it’s a four day weekend and we are heading out of town! But until then, I’ll be making the most of this weekend! Y’all have a good one!

Summer Storms & Sunshine

Another good weekend in the memory books – and while I was originally meant to be in DC all weekend watching Nationals baseball – I suppose this weekend was a perfectly fine substitute!  There definitely wasn’t any baseball and it’s looking more and more like there may not be baseball at all this season. *sigh* Moving on….

Thursday evening and most of the day Friday there were some pretty spectacular Summer storms that rolled through the area – and while rain and wind are common enough, it’s not as often that we get actual thunderstorms in this area. They’ve definitely been more common this year (or so it seems to me!)
That brings me to Friday night and my delightful evening look. The restaurants in Virginia are now allowed to open their dining rooms at 50% capacity but of course – you have to wear a face mask into the restaurant and as you are being seated. Well when you combine a face mask with a rain coat, it translates to a really cute look… NOT. I thought I looked nice enough for the evening out – but then I had to cover myself up and it really took something from the look, ha-ha! 

I was able to pop over to AT&T and turn in my old phone and make a mad dash around Home Goods to grab some new bathroom decor before they closed at 7:00 – so that was a win! Once I got home, I finished up Space Force on Netflix and made sure my bathroom was ready to be painted on Saturday! 
Saturday was a bright and sunny day and after coffee and breakfast, I decided to get out and get in my two miles or so before it got truly hot out! I didn’t count on the humidity though and while I got my walk in, I was feeling pretty “off” by the time I made my way back onto the porch and grabbed some water!

After lunch my Dad helped me paint my bathroom in a shade called Pixie Plum and it turned out so great – it really looks amazing and I’m so glad I went with the soft purple shade! I’m in love with it! I had a long video chat with my little sister who is in jolly old England and then joined my parents for dinner at Olive Garden. I spent the rest of the glorious evening in my backyard reading and then visiting with neighbors and enjoying their newly set up patio complete with a fire pit and twinkling lights strung across the space!

Sunday was another gorgeous day and I attended church in person for the first time since mid-March – it was so nice to be back in the church and be with other people for worship and the message! I had lunch at a restaurant on the Walking Mall and then headed home to change clothes and get outdoors – the Virginia State Arboretum reopened on June 6th and so it was the perfect spot to pass some time!
I’ve always been a fairly outdoors-y person but when COVID came on the scene and the only real option for anything besides sitting at home became spending time outdoors, I embraced it and I really love just being outside, taking in the beauty of nature and even just finding a spot to relax and be chill in the great outdoors!
The neighbors daughters came along on the outdoor exploration, so we also popped over to Long Branch Plantation and the Burwell Morgan Mill for just a short little visit; they’d never been to either spot and as Erin said “it’s better than just sitting at home doing nothing…” – too true!
Once we returned home, I spent time out on the deck reading for a while and then decided to completely throw caution to the wind and had pizza for dinner for the first time in six months! Yes – I’m not kidding, it was the first time in six months and it was DIVINE! Granted, I did wake up in the middle of the night and feel a little ill – so maybe I’ll wait a few more months before I do that again, ha-ha!

Another  lovely weekend in the books and happily enough, during this weekend I made plans to join my parents for a long weekend in Gatlinburg over Father’s Day weekend and y’all – if there is one thing I can assure you – I am beyond thrilled to finally be going somewhere out of town! I can’t wait!