Gatlinburg is a very silly place. I’m standing on the balcony of my hotel room, looking at some of the most beautiful acreage ever created, and cursing the corporations that have come here to turn it all into yet another tourist trap. Yup, like everywhere else I have taken my children to, there is a Ripleys Museum, a Motion Theatre, and a host of other gaudy, unfun and horribly expensive distractions. Of course, the same situation exists with respect to eating establishments, I saw an endless parade of bland corporate restaurants, mostly occupying what used to be locally owned buildings. Most of you know it is my habit to talk to the locals, so I thought I’d share a little about this place and a couple of cool people that earn their living here.
First, we stayed at the Park Plaza, on a recommendation from a friend. That friend will NOT be receiving any kahlua from us this Christmas, or our patented spicy pickles, and, in what may be the worst punishment of all…I’M REMOVING THEM FROM MY BLOGROLL! (Did you feel the collective shiver of a thousand bloggers just then?) What a dump. To be fair, they are trying, I suppose, to do the right things. Your room rate includes a breakfast buffet, for instance, but I have eaten far better food in hospitals and jails. (Like I knew the city fathers of St. George, Utah would look unfavorably at a drunken motorcycle ride through one of their pristine malls…sheesh.) The “room” did indeed consist of two beds, a TV, and a toilet, thank God, but I wished I hadn’t gone to retrieve my reading glasses from under the bed…just sayin. The place really needs a top to bottom cleaning, or, if that is inconvenient, a fire. My kids liked the arcade, of course, but not the furious hosing down I subjected them to upon returning from there. I mean, it was a bit chilly outside. On either side of our room were cheerleading groups on their way to some type of competition, I’m beginning to think that they get bonus points based on the number of people they keep awake all night with their endless practicing. After the first night, I went to an adjacent hotel and booked a room there.
The Park Plaza does have a bar, though, and I uncharacteristically wandered in to try an adult beverage. Or three. The place is called Sade and Dora’s, and though small, was actually kinda fun. The regulars seemed friendly, and the bartenders were professional, and the prices were quite fair. I sampled something they call tequila. (ta-kee-la) Interesting potion, that. There was an apparent regular there, adorned with a head scarf of some sort, who may have possibly been, as they say….over-served. He was extremely belligerent and loud, (I’m told people who have had a drink often become quite animated) and I think he may have even wanted to tussle with someone. Had Sarcastro been there to have my back, I might have obliged him. As it was, he finally kept yelling for the young bartender who was dealing with him to “call the law!” “call the law!” I believe I would have done so. To her credit, young Dixie Drinks (she gave me her name, I didn’t make it up) eventually talked him into leaving under his own power. Dixie is heading to upstate New York for the Spring/Summer seasons, and will return to her gig here come November. She has kids, and a mortgage, and credit card bills that are apparently easier to pay with the extra money she earns by traveling back East this time of year. She made me feel welcome, and I wish her a happy and profitable trip.
I believe I have much more to say about this trip…but it seems that the children are now awake and would like to hit the indoor pool again before we head home. More later.