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Trip Report Ziplines, Zorb, Pancakes, and Parrots

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I went a couple of weeks ago with my 13 year old Nephew to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and Smoky Mountains for the weekend. The two main reasons I wanted to go, we ended up not being able to do, so I’ll probably try again next year. I really wanted to hike to Mount Le Conte and spend the night there. I applied for a spot in the lottery last October when they started taking the applications. I opted for three different nights. I never heard from them one way or the other and when I called them in December they seemed surprised that I didn’t get at least an email from them. It was kind of vague response, no care attitude. So, I’m not sure what happened, if I did something wrong or they lost it or what happened. Their website indicated that it didn’t matter if you applied on the internet or called that day on the phone. The lady on the phone said that phone calls get first priority. Next year I will do both.
The other thing I really wanted to do was see the fireflies. This is one of only two places in the world that fireflies all flash in unison at the same time. They are always there the first ten days or so in June(we were there June 4-8). Of course, this year due to the warm weather, they came two weeks early and were gone by the time we got there. So, not sure when would be the best time to go next year. First of June or Last of May-? Not sure I want to battle Memorial Day crowds at the busiest National Park though.

So, we ended doing a Zipline with Climbworks Canopy Co. This was a really good option and we both liked it. I have been zipping once before in Colorado with Soaring Colorado. There are 5 or 6 Zip companies in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Most of them are about $50-$75 for a 3-4 hour excursion. The one we did in Colorado was $400, but that included the train ride and lunch. Plus, it was an all day event. There is no comparing the two really. The one in Colorado is really an experience like no other.The one in Colorado has 25 lines, is super scenic and he doesn't even attach anything to tht trees. Each platform on the trees is stainless steel self supporting unreal structures. Most zip companies just bolt their platforms to the trees. But, for the price we did ride 8 good ziplines and enjoyed it.

We really enjoyed Parrot Mountain. It is expensive for what you get, but consider that all the money goes to the rescued birds they have there and then it doesn’t seem as bad. We fed and held several of the parrots and other many other kinds of birds that I’m not sure what they ever were. Do spend the extra $2 for the juice to feed the enclosed smaller bird area. They land on your head and sortof attack you. You spend a quarter for the seeds to feed the Parrots. Signs on the poles tell you which Parrots to avoid attempting to feed, because they might bite.

My nephew decided he wanted to go Zorbing. Now this is a huge ball, much bigger than I imagined (think 12 feet tall), that they strap you into and then roll you down a 300 yard hill.
Then he decided to try it in the “wet ride”. This ball you aren’t strapped in, but placed in about 10 gallons of water and you just slosh around on your way down. Finally, he did a third run on the hill. This one is a “wet ride” but you are on a hill that bounces you off of fences as you roll side to side on the way down. It has a few curves in the hill, in other words . He loved it, but no way am I getting on it. Oh, the “wet” ride you can ride up to 3 people in. I saw two girls ride together and it looked painful and she lost her top of her bathing suit. I’m sure my 13 year old nephew wished he had gone with them.

We drove Cades Cove in the rain, so it wasn’t that crowded. We had intended on hiking to Abram Falls, but it started raining super hard, so we skipped that one. We did see a lot of turkeys and deer in the 11 mile loop road. We hiked to Grotto Falls, A very nice waterfall that you can go behind. We also hiked to Laurel Falls, which is a nice pretty waterfall.

We drove to Clingman’s Dome and did the short hike up the Tower thingy there. I think the tower is way too touristy for a National Park. This is the third highest point, east of the Mississippi.

Speaking of Touristy places-- Whoa, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg may have Disney beat. I have never seen so many Pancakes Houses, Candy Stores, Putt Putt Golf, Go Carts in my life. Particularly the pancake places- I would guess there might be 100 of them there.

We ate at Hard Rock Café, since he had never eaten at one. We split a huge appetizer there that was really good. Also tried The Donut Friar for breakfast and it was good. Kilwin’s Ice Cream and candy was a big hit for us too. He had never eaten at a Johnny Rockets so we had burgers there. For some reason, the waitress treated him like he was a 5 year old(he doesn’t really look 13 though), and he just went along with it, hat, smiley face catsup and all. I had never eaten at a Five Guys, so we had burgers there too. Yep, we ate really healthy. Lol The fries and the amount of fries at Five Guys are amazing. We also ate at Old Mill Pottery House, which I thought was disappointing. Lunch at McAlister’s Deli was very good though.

We stayed at Sleep Inn and Suites in Pigeon Forge. A very good if $62 is about the only thing good I would say about it. I think I had rather stay in Pigeon Forge than Gatlinburg. The morning we left it had begun to rain. There was a mass exodus from the place. It had been crowded during our stay, but nothing really unbearable, until we tried to leave. It took us over an hour to leave thru Gatlinburg.

We stopped at Memphis on our way back to Oklahoma to eat at Blues City Café in Memphis. This is one of my all time favorite places to eat. Ribs, tamales, and seafood au gratin dip. My nephew loves ribs, to he liked the place too.

Here is a link to our photos.
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0IatW7FqybsWZr

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