From Hell to a Mountain Heaven

Gatlinburg Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 59 › view all entries

Well, our miserable motel lived down to our opinion of last night and then some.  The clerk had let us check out the room before we agreed to rent it - she must have known something we didn't.  Who would think it was necessary to check for clean sheets, the lack of a top sheet under the blanket, a torn blanket on one of the two beds, torn box springs, a shower curtain pink at the bottom because of mold, non-existent promised hot breakfast, ad nauseum.  We demanded the night clerk bring us clean sheets, which he did.  There were holes in one of them!  We absolutely refused to walk barefoot on the carpet, fearing ringworm or athlete's foot.  Needless to say, we will write a strong letter to the chairman of America's Best Value Inns with copies to the Tennessee Department of Health and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.  The owner, a Patel, lives in Canada!  The only good thing was a fast wifi connection.  Our mistake was not driving further on the same road: there was a Days Inn that looked better. 

I thought California drivers were rude and dangerous.  Tennessee's are worse: very aggressive, use turn signals even less often, speed like hell and generally scare the daylights out of both of us.

I-40 is still bounded by thick forest and tanin-stained rivers.  It is quite lovely.  Ivy covers trees, posts, everything, in some areas.  I suppose that is because of all the rain.  Sigh!  We asked "Roada" to take us on a more scenic byway on our way to Gatlinburg.  One has to program in town names (I don't know how else to do it!) and she took us right to the city hall of Lenoir City, then told us to make a u-turn and return to the straight route to the next town.  She also wanted us to go to the city halls of Maryville and Townsend.  She only follows orders (GIGO)!

Our route (the fastest, rather than the shortest) took us through the town of Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood and some of the most crassly commercial motels, restaurants and "attractions" we have ever had the misfortune to see.  We haven't looked over Gatlinburg yet, but I fear the same ugliness will have taken over this beautiful area.  Our motel here in Gatlinburg, the Rodeway Inn Skyland,  is fine and it costs the same as that roach motel we stayed at in Nashville (no - we did not see any cockroaches, but we may just have been lucky!).  It is far from fancy, but the room has a king-sized bed, fridge and nuker, clean bathroom (no mold) and a balcony looking out through trees to the motel next door!  That is its only downside - I wish there was nothing but nature to look at.  I doubt any other place in this town would offer that unless one was prepared to spend well over $100 per night.  We can hear the sound of a creek bouncing over rocks just across the street.   The only thing I am not pleased with is the wifi connection - it is very cranky and cuts off at the most inopportune moments.

Jag and I walked up River Road, alongside the Little Pigeon River.  What a pleasure to hear the burbling sound of the little riffles all the way to the restaurant we chose for dinner.  We passed all sorts of hotels and motels, big and small, fancy and nondescript.  At this time of year all had vacancy signs.  We probably could have chosen a fancier place to stay for very little more money, but we are satisfied with the one we chose.  It is very quiet.  Dinner was a yummy barbecue and huge salad.  Jag and I shared the main course and ordered salads separately.  We would never have been able to finish the massive amounts of food served.  The restaurant is called Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que.  It is comfortable and with a friendly staff. 

We returned to our motel via the main downtown street.  It is very colorful indeed with lots of neon, lots of tourist-trap "attractions" and lots of shops selling tee-shirts, candy, chotchkes and assorted other junk.  Can you believe it: Jag decided he wanted to buy a tee-shirt!!  We went into the first shop we saw and, frankly, I have never seen so much gosh-awful merchandise.  Some of it was not very polite (that is putting it mildly) and there were several with advertisements for Jesus.  We ended up buying 4 (for $20) that were very sedate.  The walk ended up being close to 4 miles round trip.  It was fun.  Despite the plethora of rip-off joints Gatlinburg is a far nicer town to stay in than Pigeon Forge.

Tomorrow we head for the Cades Cove area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and back to Townsend so that Jag can purchase some special woodcarving tools at a well-thought-of place located here in Tennessee.  It will be so nice to be in one of Mother Nature's best creations. 

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photo by: vulindlela