Monday, September 24, 2018

Fall 2018 Theme Park Trip-Day 4

Today was all over the place!

I have the Honolulu Marathon in December and decided that for this trip I'm going to do my best to keep up some sort of training while I'm traveling. Going running in an unfamiliar city can bring about different vistas and running patterns. The run brought me along a long veterans highway with a huge side walk along it although for most of it, there were just fields and forest next to it. I ran early so that I could spend the rest of the day running around to attractions so I started at 6am. Next to the motel where I'm staying there is a beautiful mountain stream which lead to a mill. What a beautiful site. As I got closer, I couldn't hear my podcasts as there was a small drop off and the water cascading over it made this beautiful thum-thum-thum sound. From there is was up towards Dollywood's entrance and then just kept going. It was dark and there were very few cars. Being the Smokey Mountains, there was mist everywhere. Several times when I went to scratch my beard I was surprised at how much moisture was clinging to it. I didn't encounter any other people walking or running and I'm sure I must have been out of place to the drivers as they went along their task.  When I returned to the motel, at the embankment of the river there was an older gentleman sitting on top of a picnic table there playing his guitar and singing.  What a way to start a Sunday morning!

For activities, spent the earlier portion  of the day heading into Gatlinburg. Did my first mountain coaster which was before you got into the downtown district. It was different than what I expected but still a lot of fun. I had been on a alpine side where you take a chair lift to the top and then ride down. Part of the charm was being towed up while sitting in the cart. The ride down was lots of fun but didn't expect it to be so short.

I had been to Gatlinburg once before in 1982 when I had visited Knoxville for the world's fair that was taking place in the city. The one memory I had from then is a store that sold these troll creations. Funny enough, the second store I went into had trolls. Not exactly as I remember them but thought it odd that I ran into them so quickly and only in the one store on the second floor of a mall that was tucked away in the back of the walkway.

I did a couple of the really touristy things like the The World of Illusion, Earthquake, the ride, and Mysterious Mansion. The first two were really hokey. I laughed though the whole Earthquake experience. With the Mysterious Mansion, I got grouped up with a number of other people and the "leader" was this 6 ft 270 lb guy that was a really scaredy cat but yet he
kept taking the lead and screeching out as the two actors would pop out of different places and yell boo.

Throughout the day I did four of the mountain coasters. The newest one is called The Rowdy Bear and in addition to the coaster they also had a what is being called a mountain glider. You're suspended from the bar and you zip along. I trust that these devices are safe but there were a couple of corners that I whipped around that made me swing back and forth that made me wonder for a second. I mentioned the Florida Zipline Coaster and they said they were aware of it but this was the first deployment of their technology in the US. I did buy the pic and a video and they have done something that I've never seen before. They gave me the physical print and on there is a QR code that you can use to download both pic and video. Something that I didn't like it that in the downloaded pic, it also includes the QR code so that other people could get it too. I'll need to photoshop it to remove the code, but eventually I'll get those posted.

Away from Gatlinburg, back in Pigeon Forge, spent time at both the Titanic and Alcatraz East attractions. Within Titanic, the item that I thought really drove home the point of what happened to the people is you walk outside the bridge and they have a representation of the iceberg next to the ship. You can run your hand along it, and it's real ice. The air in that room is chilly like it was that night. Then you can put your hand in some water that is kept at 28 degrees, the temp the people of the Titanic were dropped into once the ship sank. I only kept my hand in it for about 20 seconds and could really, really feel it. I could pull my hand out of the water, but they didn't have the option which really drove home the point of how these people died.

At Alcataz East, it's not a history of the place itself, but a museum that looks at crime and justice in all sorts of aspects going from back in ancient times to today. They had a number of actual items involved with topics they were discussing. Something amusing here that happened is that unlike at Titanic where they just handed you a self guide tour wand, the Alcatraz folks wanted you to leave your ID. So I asked if they would be responsible if I had ID theft during the next year. She then commented that the wands were $300 a piece and they could use my car keys to make sure they got it back. Fine. In the back of my head I'm thinking Titanic didn't ask for something as a hold but then again, maybe as a crime museum that's what they're worried about happening to them. At the end of the tour she asked for the name on the ID and said I was the guy with the car keys and she responded, "Oh yah, you....". Bit of an attitude, but the information presented was fascinating. I ended up spending 90 minutes in there.

By this time, it was almost 9pm and it was raining so decided to call it a night after grabbing a bite to eat. Unfortunately, that meant no moonshine tasting so I'll have to save that for another trip. Tomorrow is up really early for an early fight to visit family in Boston.