Cheapness In Seattle (A 2019 PNW Trip Report - 2020 update added on 6/25

Steppesister

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
We have to laugh so we don't cry.
True for so many of life's twists and turns.
Yikes! Yeah, all I got was a couple of scars.
And a story of survival!!
The important part is that there's not a giant hole in the deck now.
Might have been a convenient way to get rid of uninvited house guests though. "Hey, wanna see the bacon I'm smoking? No, please, you go first; I'm right behind you."

The independence was so wonderful. I think at that age, we're all ready to get away from mom and dad and do our own thing.
And that's when we parents pull up our prayer pants.
Less than a month now! :woohoo:
Looking forward to that TR!!
Anything but our living room was an improvement.
I will confess, I was often grateful for a consistent job I could go to for someplace to go and be other than my apt during the worst of the lockdowns.
If you can get up high, you can see a panorama of fireworks!
I wonder if there is a rooftop dining place in BG? Won't be til 2022 that I get the chance to see it.
I really loved that school. The campus is really beautiful, set back in the mountains. Would have loved to have gone there. But then a lot of things would have turned out differently.
Julie wouldn't have, wait how did that story go? Remind me, she asked YOU out, right? It's been like 10 years since I've read that story.
 

pkondz

. . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Well, I know this sign has been seen around the state, so...
I stand corrected!

I sit corrected.

I'm going to go lie down now.
Really? Huh. I wouldn't have guessed that Apple+ (the streaming service) wouldn't be available in Canada.
Oh, it's available... I just don't have a subscription. I have enough of those for now.
(Prime, Netflix, StackTV (a set of channels including History, etc) and Disney+
I think they had said Ted Lasso was available for free at the moment, too. It's about an American football coach who gets hired to coach a UK Premier League soccer team. We all thought it was very funny.
That does sound pretty good. :)
You were probably a lot more disappointed than my kids.
:laughing:
Makes perfect sense that way. Why didn't you pick them up? Slacker.
Didn't ask me. They asked my Dad. You know me... I probably would've done it.
 

Captain_Oblivious

DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
True for so many of life's twists and turns.
Pretty soon we'll start laughing at all sorts of inappropriate stuff.

Might have been a convenient way to get rid of uninvited house guests though. "Hey, wanna see the bacon I'm smoking? No, please, you go first; I'm right behind you."
:rotfl2:I wish I'd thought of that! I could have put in a shark tank down there or something.

And that's when we parents pull up our prayer pants.
Always! But we have to trust that we taught them how to make good decisions, too.

Looking forward to that TR!!
I just wanna go!

I will confess, I was often grateful for a consistent job I could go to for someplace to go and be other than my apt during the worst of the lockdowns.
I can understand that. I was able to return to the office last summer, so it wasn't so bad for me either.

I wonder if there is a rooftop dining place in BG? Won't be til 2022 that I get the chance to see it.
:confused3

Julie wouldn't have, wait how did that story go? Remind me, she asked YOU out, right? It's been like 10 years since I've read that story.
No, I asked her out during our senior year of college. We lived on separate floors in the same dorm that year.

I stand corrected!

I sit corrected.

I'm going to go lie down now.
I'm just waiting to see how far this will go.

Oh, it's available... I just don't have a subscription. I have enough of those for now.
(Prime, Netflix, StackTV (a set of channels including History, etc) and Disney+
Oh, I see. We got a year for free when one of us got a new phone.

That does sound pretty good. :)
It's a show that surprised me. You think the main character is going to be a doofus, but he's much more crafty than anyone realizes, and a lot of the fun is watching him win people over with kindness and decency. Rare for a TV show these days.

Didn't ask me. They asked my Dad. You know me... I probably would've done it.
You know...I believe you would have.
 

pkondz

. . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
:rotfl2:I wish I'd thought of that! I could have put in a shark tank down there or something.
james bond bridge.gif
I'm just waiting to see how far this will go.
That was it. I had planned more, but after I laid down, I fell asleep.
It's a show that surprised me. You think the main character is going to be a doofus, but he's much more crafty than anyone realizes, and a lot of the fun is watching him win people over with kindness and decency. Rare for a TV show these days.
Sounds good. :)
 

Steppesister

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 27, 2013
Pretty soon we'll start laughing at all sorts of inappropriate stuff.
Wait! We weren't supposed to yet?

:rotfl2:I wish I'd thought of that! I could have put in a shark tank down there or something.
A missed opportunity to do something great!

Always! But we have to trust that we taught them how to make good decisions, too.
That is so true, although I've seen my adult kids do some really stupid stuff.

Hmmm, which makes me think of all the stupid things I've done after I left the house too. Sometimes we just gotta let em fly knowing we tried our best.

I just wanna go!
Looks like you'll get to! I guess some court order came down today about cruises in their favor.

I can understand that. I was able to return to the office last summer, so it wasn't so bad for me either.
2 venues are better than one.


But it's not the same as being able to travel either. :(

No, I asked her out during our senior year of college. We lived on separate floors in the same dorm that year.
I remember reading your story of your first interactions a LONG time ago and thought you wrote it so well, and I was laughing so hard. But my memory stinks nowadays and couldn't remember the details.

This is perfection.

I need this in conjunction with a door alarm/app.
 

Captain_Oblivious

DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
I think we all need one of these. So useful!

That was it. I had planned more, but after I laid down, I fell asleep.
Happens more and more these days...

Wait! We weren't supposed to yet?
It's never stopped us before.

A missed opportunity to do something great!
It probably would have been too expensive for me.

That is so true, although I've seen my adult kids do some really stupid stuff.

Hmmm, which makes me think of all the stupid things I've done after I left the house too. Sometimes we just gotta let em fly knowing we tried our best.
Yeah...it's hard to remember that at that age, I was just as stupid.

Looks like you'll get to! I guess some court order came down today about cruises in their favor.
We're not even doing a cruise anymore, but I'm so excited to finally get on a plane and go somewhere.

2 venues are better than one.


But it's not the same as being able to travel either. :(
Very true.

I remember reading your story of your first interactions a LONG time ago and thought you wrote it so well, and I was laughing so hard. But my memory stinks nowadays and couldn't remember the details.
Well, that makes two of us, because I can't remember either!

This is perfection.

I need this in conjunction with a door alarm/app.
Right at the front door! Could take care of bad neighbors, lawn care salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses...
 
  • Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    The Break Glass In Case Of Emergency Vacation

    The dream Alaska vacation didn’t happen. We’ve already covered that. But we did get to drive through Dayton, Ohio. So we had that going for us, which was nice.

    But as strange as it may sound, that wasn’t quite enough to satisfy our wanderlust during the pandemic summer of 2020. We all had our difficulties during the past year, and we all reacted to the stress in different ways. In our case, we ended up doing something completely, wildly, insanely out of character:

    We put together a vacation at the last minute with little advance planning.

    I’m not necessarily proud of that kind of reckless behavior, but I just wanted to give an example of the kinds of things people under abnormal stress will do. Anyway, it had been at least a week or two since our little road trip to see my brother, and we were already getting tired of being stuck in the house again. The COVID infections didn’t seem to be spreading too terribly fast over the summer, and we were emboldened by the success of the previous trip. But naturally, we still wanted to stay safe and not be overly risky with our health.

    The solution we came up with was to rent a cabin for a week in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. It checked all of the boxes: we could still avoid/minimize too many interactions with other people, we could see some beautiful scenery, and we could see something other than our house.

    We found a place online through a local rental company that was offering a 20% off deal for rentals. It was too big and too expensive for us alone, so we asked some friends if they wanted to split it for the week with us. They were apparently under great stress from the pandemic as well, because they readily agreed. And we all took precautions before leaving—making sure no one had symptoms, getting COVID tests, etc. All of us were negative.

    We left on a weekend in August, driving a few hours west into Virginia to stay at a hotel near Front Royal, VA, which is the gateway to Shenandoah National Park. Our reasoning was that if you’re going to drive down to Tennessee, you can either go straight down the interstate or do a portion of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah—and we’ll take Skyline Drive anytime.

    In the morning, we skipped the first portion of Skyline Drive and instead entered the park at Thornton Gap. We hadn’t been on the middle section of the road since 2011 and wanted to see that part of the park again.

    Our first stop was a parking area just before the Skyland Lodge area, which served as the trailhead for Stony Man Mountain. This is the highest point in the park, and there’s about a 1-mile trail that leads to a nice overlook on the side of the mountain.



    If you’re thinking, “either those kids have gotten really big or I’ve gotten really old”, the answer is yes.



    It’s always kind of fun to stand on a mountainside and watch clouds drifting below you.

    Further down the road, there is another trail head for Dark Hollow Falls, yet another 1-mile hike that is supremely conquerable for families. We’d taken this hike way back in the spring of 2010. The kids were much smaller then. The falls were the same—about 75-80 ft. high.



    From there, we rejoined the interstate and drove all the way down to Knoxville, TN. You don’t realize how big Virginia truly is until you have to drive I-81 through the southwest corner. It just keeps going and going and going…

    And it was really depressing when we finally reached the Tennessee border just to find that we had another 100 miles or so to get to Knoxville. That was a long stretch.

    We were in Knoxville to do another DIY-tour of the University of Tennessee, which has an aerospace engineering program that had interested David at the time (now he’s focusing on mechanical engineering).

    I can say that we had a very nice dinner that evening at a place called Corner 16, a sports bar-type restaurant west of the city.

    In the morning, we wandered the school campus. We found that the campus itself was very nice, but Dave was less impressed with the city of Knoxville itself. Considering the length of a drive, that’s probably not going to make the college rank high on his ultimate list.

    We’d come prepared for this road trip and ate our customary PB&J sandwiches for lunch. Then we left for the short drive down to Pigeon Forge, TN. It was only about an hour and change from Knoxville, so it went pretty quickly. We got there a couple of hours ahead of our official check-in time, so we drove down the main drag of Pigeon Forge to check it out.

    How can I describe Pigeon Forge? Imagine every crappy t-shirt shop from every beach town you’ve ever visited, combined with every crappy tourist trap attraction in Niagara Falls all mashed together on one highway. Or perhaps you could picture a developer who wanted to recreate Las Vegas but didn’t have the budget to match his dreams. As we drove, Scotty looked around in horror at the random assortment of attractions (the Titanic Museum, a Jurassic Park ride, an Alcatraz Museum, Wonderworks, and countless others) and asked, “What is this place?”

    We kept on going to the town of Gatlinburg, which is the gateway to the Smoky Mountains. It’s been heavily developed over the years with even more tourist traps and is packed with visitors nearly year-round at this point. Our friends were already in town, so we texted back and forth and eventually found a place to meet up with them. We turned up our noses at the various tourist traps around town and instead chose to support a much higher-class destination: Hillbilly Golf.

    What can be more refined than playing mini golf on the side of a mountain through farm tractor equipment?



    The place was a lot of fun, actually. To reach the course, you had to ride a funicular up the mountain to get to the first tee. And some of the holes themselves were very unique. This one allowed you to play the normal boring way, or you could use the alternate path to play Plinko.



    We all chose the Plinko route, because why wouldn’t you?

    A good time was had by all. At that point, we were allowed to “check in” (i.e. enter) our rental home for the week, so we drove back to Pigeon Forge, turned to the west, and after a couple of turns found ourselves climbing the side of a rather steep hill. Switchback after switchback followed, until we finally made one last turn, descended another hill and found the driveway for the “cabin”. What do you think?





    We absolutely loved this house. It was huge, new and well-appointed. There was a foosball table, a pool table, hot tub, arcade games…but our favorite part was very low-tech. We had this deck with a view of the Smoky Mountains.



    The morning coffee was enjoyed daily while gazing upon this:





    Yeah…that’ll do. That’ll do nicely.

    We spent the week mostly enjoying the house and the Smoky Mountains. We tried to do some things we hadn’t been able to do on our first visit a few years ago. If you recall, we’d tried to visit the highest point in the park, Clingman’s Dome, only to give up on the hike when we found it to be completely socked in with clouds. This time, we used the Rope Drop Principle to get to the top of the mountain road as early as we could. We were still racing the cloud cover as it moved in, but we were able to successfully complete the hike and reach the observation tower before the views were completely cut off.







    Another morning, we once again got up early in order to beat the crowds and secure a valuable parking space so we could to a 1.5-mile hike to Laurel Falls. That one proved to be well worth the effort to get there. Especially when we came back and found lines of cars attempting to invent parking spaces along the road.





    Another evening, we took the drive into Cades Cove, which I have a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, it’s the only place I’ve found in my travels where we have consistently seen bears in the wild whenever we take the drive.



    On the other hand, it takes approximately 2 hours to drive 11 miles every time we visit, because people crawl along the road looking for wildlife and refuse to use the pullouts to allow other cars to pass, no matter how long the line gets behind them. It’s excruciating. So you have to go in knowing you’re committing the time.

    We mostly ordered takeout for dinner so we could avoid crowds, especially once we saw that the crowds were basically acting as if COVID didn’t exist. So our meals were mostly fine, but they definitely lose something when you’re eating them lukewarm out of a takeout container rather than fresh off the grill. We can definitely recommend the Applewood Farmhouse and Grill, however, since they provided their fried apple fritters and homemade apple butter to dip them in with every meal. How can anyone turn that down?

    All in all, we had a very relaxing week. I took the boys to play golf at the Gatlinburg Golf Course, which proved to be a fun hillside course with lots of elevation changes. The biggest one was this par 3 that involved about a 100-ft. drop down to the green.



    There are several “mountain coasters” in the Pigeon Forge area, and we couldn’t resist trying one of them out. We chose one at a place called Goats on the Roof for obvious reasons. I mean, you try resisting the siren call of a place called Goats on the Roof.

    Yes, there were actually goats on the roof.



    The other perk that sold us on this place was that they had a $5 replay rate, so after your first ride you could come back as many times as you wanted the rest of the day and all rides would only be $5. On the downside, it was cash only, but at least they had an ATM conveniently located for all of your mountain coasting needs.

    I’d never been on a mountain coaster before, but it’s basically the same thing as an alpine slide if you’ve ever tried one of those. You sit on a little sled with one handle. You push the handle forward to let it slide, and pull back for the brakes. That’s all there is to it—gravity does the rest of the work.



    They have a tow cable that pulls the sleds all the way up the hill, and then you get turned around and set loose on the downhill section. It’s a ton of fun. Drew was apprehensive at first, as little kids tend to be, but screamed and yelled his head off the whole way down and then begged for more and more rides. We ended up taking a couple of rides during the day, and then coming again at night when it was lit up for more fun. It was a blast.



    The week went by too quickly, and we were very sad to say goodbye to that beautiful house and the views from the deck.



    We had one more bit of fun to enjoy before heading home, though. A couple of years ago, I’d taken my father to play a golf course that had been on our bucket lists for several years: Tobacco Road, near the town of Sanford, North Carolina. It had been a great day and instantly became my favorite course that I’d ever played due to the absolutely bonkers nature of the course design. My father and I had remarked that it would be a lot of fun to go back and play again, now that we knew the layout and where some of the blind shots would end up. When I’d gotten back home, I’d told my sons: “You’ve gotta see this place.”

    Well, North Carolina is sort of close to Tennessee. That was enough of an excuse for me to drive over to Sanford so we could play this course.

    I must give a special shout-out to Julie and Sarah, who basically agreed to try and find something to do for 4 hours while we played, even though they really only had enough activities to occupy about half that time and had to deal with a whiny 7-year-old at the same time. They really took one for the team here.

    The course is very polarizing. You pretty much know on the first tee whether you’re going to love it or hate it. Obviously, I love it. I think it’s great fun to try crazy shots you’d never get to see anywhere else.





    I was right that it was really fun to play the second time. And I did so much better this time, having a much better idea of where to hit my shots. One of the fun things about this design is that if you hit the right spots, you get rewarded. On this hole, I was able to hit my tee shot to the slope just to the right of where Scotty is standing. The ball ended up where you see it in the photo.



    I felt proud that I was able to hit a shot that carried this colossal bunker, too. But we had to climb down in there anyway just to see what it was like.





    It was a great time and a great day. I’ll make special note of Scotty’s perseverance too. Late in the round, he put his shot into this just-about-impossible situation. He considered picking his ball up for an unplayable lie, but then said, “You know what? I’m just gonna go for it.” Darned if he didn’t put that ball on the green, too. I love that attitude.



    That was the extent of our attempts to escape quarantine in 2020. After Julie and I were vaccinated in the spring of 2021, we did manage to take another day trip during Sarah’s spring break to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. This town is a National Historical Park, having been originally chosen as the location of the U.S. Armory due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. and location at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. The arsenal was late the site of a raid in 1859 led by abolitionist John Brown, who had hoped to secure the weapons stored there and start an uprising of slaves throughout the country. But the raid was put down and Brown was hanged for his crimes, and the Civil War would begin just two years later.

    Harper’s Ferry is also the site of a nice 2-mile (one way) hike across the railroad bridge and up the side of a mountain for a great view of the town and the confluence of the rivers. And when it’s spring and you’re once again tired of being cooped up in quarantine, you take any excuse to get out and explore.





    We also took the opportunity to check out the Great Falls of the Potomac, just a ways down the road in Washington, D.C.



    I’m thankful that we had these chances to get out as a family during the pandemic. It’s been a long, hard year (and a half) for all of us, but I feel like we’re finally reaching the end of the tunnel. I can now safely say that I’m not a big fan of pandemics and never want to experience another one.

    But I’m also thankful for the blessings we had. I got some house projects done. Julie and I worked hard to get in better shape and lose some weight. We still managed some getaways to keep our sanity, and the time reinforced our desires for travel and for real relationships with friends and family. I was also thankful for everyone in my family. Somehow we managed to go a whole year stuck in the house together without blowing the place up. I don’t know how many times Julie and I took stock of the situation and said, “It’s a good thing we like each other.” These are the people that make my world go round, and I’m so thankful for the many ways in which they bring me joy.

    I also can’t wait to get back on the road, and this seems like a good time for me to tell you that the next update I write will be a new chapter in a new trip report.

    Thank you all for reading this nonsense, for commenting, for sharing your lives and observations, and for your friendship. I love hearing from you all.

    Next stop: Alaska.
     

    pkondz

    . . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    The dream Alaska vacation didn’t happen. We’ve already covered that. But we did get to drive through Dayton, Ohio. So we had that going for us, which was nice.
    I'm sure that's way better anyways.


    :rolleyes:
    We put together a vacation at the last minute with little advance planning.
    What??? You?????
    Anyway, it had been at least a week or two since our little road trip to see my brother, and we were already getting tired of being stuck in the house again.
    Yeah... I completely understand the sentiment.
    The solution we came up with was to rent a cabin for a week in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
    Great idea. ::yes::
    The solution we came up with was to rent a cabin for a week in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. It checked all of the boxes: we could still avoid/minimize too many interactions with other people, we could see some beautiful scenery, and we could see something other than our house.

    We found a place online through a local rental company that was offering a 20% off deal for rentals. It was too big and too expensive for us alone, so we asked some friends if they wanted to split it for the week with us.
    Sure. When trying to avoid close contact with people, the first thing that comes to mind is to lock yourself into a small space with others.


    :rolleyes1
    And we all took precautions before leaving—making sure no one had symptoms, getting COVID tests, etc. All of us were negative.
    Okay, I'll let it go, then.
    In the morning, we skipped the first portion of Skyline Drive and instead entered the park at Thornton Gap
    I had to look at the map to see if I'd been through there. I have not.
    If you’re thinking, “either those kids have gotten really big or I’ve gotten really old”, the answer is yes.
    If by "I've", you mean "you"... then yes.
    It’s always kind of fun to stand on a mountainside and watch clouds drifting below you.
    That's a cool shot! :thumbsup2
    The kids were much smaller then. The falls were the same—about 75-80 ft. high.
    :laughing:
    From there, we rejoined the interstate and drove all the way down to Knoxville, TN.
    Now there, I've been.
    You don’t realize how big Virginia truly is until you have to drive I-81 through the southwest corner.
    Been there, although not via I-81. And... yeah, that looks really long.
    And it was really depressing when we finally reached the Tennessee border just to find that we had another 100 miles or so to get to Knoxville. That was a long stretch.
    Try it at night in a driving rain.
    We found that the campus itself was very nice, but Dave was less impressed with the city of Knoxville itself. Considering the length of a drive, that’s probably not going to make the college rank high on his ultimate list.
    Yeah, that'll do it. Then again, he's changed his mind on what he wants to do, so maybe it's a moot point anyways?
    (I don't really know.)
    We’d come prepared for this road trip and ate our customary PB&J sandwiches for lunch.
    Yuss!!!! Woot!
    How can I describe Pigeon Forge? Imagine every crappy t-shirt shop from every beach town you’ve ever visited, combined with every crappy tourist trap attraction in Niagara Falls all mashed together on one highway.
    Really! That is not how I imagined it at all!
    Well... that's disappointing.
    We turned up our noses at the various tourist traps around town and instead chose to support a much higher-class destination: Hillbilly Golf.
    :laughing:
    What can be more refined than playing mini golf on the side of a mountain through farm tractor equipment?
    I can't think of anything more refined. I thought... Opera? The symphony?

    Nope. Not even close.
    The place was a lot of fun, actually. To reach the course, you had to ride a funicular up the mountain to get to the first tee.
    I like it!
    We all chose the Plinko route, because why wouldn’t you?
    :confused3
    Why even have an alternative? How could you not do Plinko????
    found the driveway for the “cabin”. What do you think?
    Whoooooaaaa....

    1. Big!!!
    2. What a view!

    It really looks amazing. Seriously.
    There was a foosball table, a pool table, hot tub, arcade games
    Really! Wow!
    but our favorite part was very low-tech. We had this deck with a view of the Smoky Mountains.
    :)
    I can see how that would be the main draw.
    The morning coffee was enjoyed daily while gazing upon this:
    Just... breathtaking.
    Yeah…that’ll do. That’ll do nicely.
    ::yes:: :thumbsup2
    If you recall, we’d tried to visit the highest point in the park, Clingman’s Dome, only to give up on the hike when we found it to be completely socked in with clouds.
    I remember that. ::yes::
    1.5-mile hike to Laurel Falls. That one proved to be well worth the effort to get there.
    Pretty falls. :)
    On the other hand, it takes approximately 2 hours to drive 11 miles every time we visit, because people crawl along the road looking for wildlife and refuse to use the pullouts to allow other cars to pass, no matter how long the line gets behind them. It’s excruciating. So you have to go in knowing you’re committing the time.
    Ugh. I think I might prefer the bear mauling.


    Okay, maybe not. But it's close.
    So our meals were mostly fine, but they definitely lose something when you’re eating them lukewarm out of a takeout container rather than fresh off the grill.
    Yeah... story of the last year and a half.
    We can definitely recommend the Applewood Farmhouse and Grill, however, since they provided their fried apple fritters and homemade apple butter to dip them in with every meal. How can anyone turn that down?
    mmmm... that sounds... decadent.
    The biggest one was this par 3 that involved about a 100-ft. drop down to the green.
    I'd love to drive the golf cart down that.... can see it cartwheeling all the way down.
    We chose one at a place called Goats on the Roof for obvious reasons. I mean, you try resisting the siren call of a place called Goats on the Roof.
    Not possible. Don't even try to resist.
    The other perk that sold us on this place was that they had a $5 replay rate, so after your first ride you could come back as many times as you wanted the rest of the day and all rides would only be $5.
    Not bad.
    I’d never been on a mountain coaster before, but it’s basically the same thing as an alpine slide if you’ve ever tried one of those.
    Never done either. But have seen it on TV or Youtube a couple times. And I'd love to try it. Now I know where I could.
    They look awfully relaxed for people who are about to risk their lives to gravity.
    They have a tow cable that pulls the sleds all the way up the hill, and then you get turned around and set loose on the downhill section.
    So... do you sit on the sleds while they're being towed? Or do you meet them at the top?
    Drew was apprehensive at first, as little kids tend to be, but screamed and yelled his head off the whole way down and then begged for more and more rides.
    :laughing: Great!
    A couple of years ago, I’d taken my father to play a golf course that had been on our bucket lists for several years: Tobacco Road, near the town of Sanford, North Carolina. It had been a great day and instantly became my favorite course that I’d ever played due to the absolutely bonkers nature of the course design.
    Is this the course that you wrote about? I don't remember the name, but do recall you talking about a course you did with your dad.
    On this hole, I was able to hit my tee shot to the slope just to the right of where Scotty is standing. The ball ended up where you see it in the photo.
    That's only impressive if you didn't hit it from where Scotty is standing...
    Holy crap! You need a backhoe to get out of there! :faint:
    He put it on the green... from there?!?!?!?
    The arsenal was late the site of a raid in 1859 led by abolitionist John Brown, who had hoped to secure the weapons stored there and start an uprising of slaves throughout the country. But the raid was put down and Brown was hanged for his crimes, and the Civil War would begin just two years later.
    Huh. Interesting history.
    Very interesting shot. Like that one.
    I can now safely say that I’m not a big fan of pandemics and never want to experience another one.
    Yeah... you and me both. But maybe we're in the minority.
    Somehow we managed to go a whole year stuck in the house together without blowing the place up.
    :rolleyes1
    I don’t know how many times Julie and I took stock of the situation and said, “It’s a good thing we like each other.” These are the people that make my world go round, and I’m so thankful for the many ways in which they bring me joy.
    Awww... :)
    I also can’t wait to get back on the road, and this seems like a good time for me to tell you that the next update I write will be a new chapter in a new trip report.
    Woot!! :woohoo:
    Next stop: Alaska.
    Yuss!!!!
     

    Steppesister

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 27, 2013
    In our case, we ended up doing something completely, wildly, insanely out of character:
    Like many of the rest of us. :sad2:
    We put together a vacation at the last minute with little advance planning.
    :scared1:

    You did NOT!
    They were apparently under great stress from the pandemic as well, because they readily agreed.
    :rotfl2:
    Worth the walk for sure. Very pretty!
    We were in Knoxville to do another DIY-tour of the University of Tennessee, which has an aerospace engineering program that had interested David at the time (now he’s focusing on mechanical engineering).
    That's GREAT!!
    How can I describe Pigeon Forge? Imagine every crappy t-shirt shop from every beach town you’ve ever visited, combined with every crappy tourist trap attraction in Niagara Falls all mashed together on one highway. Or perhaps you could picture a developer who wanted to recreate Las Vegas but didn’t have the budget to match his dreams. As we drove, Scotty looked around in horror at the random assortment of attractions (the Titanic Museum, a Jurassic Park ride, an Alcatraz Museum, Wonderworks, and countless others) and asked, “What is this place?”
    Pass. Although I will say that Dollywood is really a nice park.


    We all chose the Plinko route, because why wouldn’t you?
    There is no plausible reason to NOT do this unless you simply wanted to win against your opponent who chose that way first.

    The morning coffee was enjoyed daily while gazing upon this:

    That is breathtaking! And I'm sure 1,000% more beautiful in person.

    On the other hand, it takes approximately 2 hours to drive 11 miles every time we visit, because people crawl along the road looking for wildlife and refuse to use the pullouts to allow other cars to pass, no matter how long the line gets behind them. It’s excruciating. So you have to go in knowing you’re committing the time.
    Okay, that's just downright aggravating. Grrrr!
    We can definitely recommend the Applewood Farmhouse and Grill, however, since they provided their fried apple fritters and homemade apple butter to dip them in with every meal. How can anyone turn that down?
    Drool.
    On the downside, it was cash only, but at least they had an ATM conveniently located for all of your mountain coasting needs.
    ... with a $3.50 service fee.
    They have a tow cable that pulls the sleds all the way up the hill, and then you get turned around and set loose on the downhill section. It’s a ton of fun. Drew was apprehensive at first, as little kids tend to be, but screamed and yelled his head off the whole way down and then begged for more and more rides. We ended up taking a couple of rides during the day, and then coming again at night when it was lit up for more fun. It was a blast.
    Oh man! That sure looks fun!!!
    A great sandbox to let the kids play in while you spend the rest of the day trying to get your ball out.

    I can now safely say that I’m not a big fan of pandemics and never want to experience another one.
    Luckily, theoretically one happens only once in a lifetime.
    I also can’t wait to get back on the road, and this seems like a good time for me to tell you that the next update I write will be a new chapter in a new trip report.
    Huzzah!!
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    So we had that going for us, which was nice.
    :thumbsup2

    We left on a weekend in August, driving a few hours west into Virginia to stay at a hotel near Front Royal, VA, which is the gateway to Shenandoah National Park. Our reasoning was that if you’re going to drive down to Tennessee, you can either go straight down the interstate or do a portion of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah—and we’ll take Skyline Drive anytime.
    I can understand that logic!

    If you’re thinking, “either those kids have gotten really big or I’ve gotten really old”, the answer is yes.
    :lmao:

    How can I describe Pigeon Forge? Imagine every crappy t-shirt shop from every beach town you’ve ever visited, combined with every crappy tourist trap attraction in Niagara Falls all mashed together on one highway. Or perhaps you could picture a developer who wanted to recreate Las Vegas but didn’t have the budget to match his dreams. As we drove, Scotty looked around in horror at the random assortment of attractions (the Titanic Museum, a Jurassic Park ride, an Alcatraz Museum, Wonderworks, and countless others) and asked, “What is this place?”
    I notice that you didn't put a hyperlink on the town of Pigeon Forge in case we wanted to visit there. :rolleyes1

    What can be more refined than playing mini golf on the side of a mountain through farm tractor equipment?
    It would be.....different.

    We all chose the Plinko route, because why wouldn’t you?
    :confused3

    A good time was had by all. At that point, we were allowed to “check in” (i.e. enter) our rental home for the week, so we drove back to Pigeon Forge, turned to the west, and after a couple of turns found ourselves climbing the side of a rather steep hill. Switchback after switchback followed, until we finally made one last turn, descended another hill and found the driveway for the “cabin”. What do you think?
    Very nice! I remember seeing the pictures on FB!

    We had this deck with a view of the Smoky Mountains.
    Sweet!

    On the other hand, it takes approximately 2 hours to drive 11 miles every time we visit, because people crawl along the road looking for wildlife and refuse to use the pullouts to allow other cars to pass, no matter how long the line gets behind them. It’s excruciating. So you have to go in knowing you’re committing the time.
    :sad2: Fran would be constantly pulling over cause she hates people tailgating her and I'm sure that's going on with that road.

    We mostly ordered takeout for dinner so we could avoid crowds, especially once we saw that the crowds were basically acting as if COVID didn’t exist.
    Makes sense. I know Julie hates to cook on vacation, but didn't you share the house with friends. I would have loved to make one combined dinner and just chill on the balcony. But we don't have kids who aren't into "just chillin".

    They have a tow cable that pulls the sleds all the way up the hill, and then you get turned around and set loose on the downhill section. It’s a ton of fun. Drew was apprehensive at first, as little kids tend to be, but screamed and yelled his head off the whole way down and then begged for more and more rides. We ended up taking a couple of rides during the day, and then coming again at night when it was lit up for more fun. It was a blast.
    Sounds fun! If you can get back up from that position.

    I’m thankful that we had these chances to get out as a family during the pandemic. It’s been a long, hard year (and a half) for all of us, but I feel like we’re finally reaching the end of the tunnel. I can now safely say that I’m not a big fan of pandemics and never want to experience another one.
    Here here! You are lucky to have a healthy family. While we can see the tiny light at the end of the tunnel, we're not quite sure how far it is to the end. With eight underlying conditions between the two of us we are still masking up in public, even outdoors (at Disney) and holding off on travel. We are going to take a trip to visit my parents who are also being as careful as we are. But we want to see what happens this Fall & Winter before letting our guard down. I read about the Spanish flu, and the rest of the world doesn't have this thing under control.

    I also can’t wait to get back on the road, and this seems like a good time for me to tell you that the next update I write will be a new chapter in a new trip report.
    Looking forward to reading that! I could use some vicarious living. So few TRs out there!

    Thank you all for reading this nonsense, for commenting, for sharing your lives and observations, and for your friendship. I love hearing from you all.
    Thank you for sharing your stories and friendship. I know we have very different styles of travel, touring, dining, etc, but I love hearing about your adventures!

    Next stop: Alaska.
    Yay! You're going to get your 50th state!
     
  • pkondz

    . . Dis Dad #797 . . Hoping to get lucky
    Joined
    Mar 9, 2007
    Thanks to all who responded. I had big goals of responding, but ran out of time before vacation! So I will make sure to get back to you when I return. If you even remember what you wrote at that point.
    Remember what I wrote? I can't even remember what I ate yesterday.
     

    Flossbolna

    Sea days are just so relaxing!
    Joined
    Sep 8, 2006
    I loved reading about your pandemic travels! Hope you have a fantastic time in Alaska!
     

    WDW2012

    Michelle
    Joined
    Aug 21, 2011
    Wow that rental house looks amazing!! I grew up in NY but now live in FL so I'm used to seeing mountains but since living in FL, seeing them now has so much more meaning :tongue: So glad you got to escape during the pandemic. We managed a trip to Universal right after they opened up. Wearing a mask in 9,000 degrees was no fun but walking onto every single ride was an experience we won't soon forget! I hope Alaska is this summer! Can't wait to see those pics.
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    I'm sure that's way better anyways.
    Dayton over Alaska? Anyday. Not even a comparison.

    What??? You?????
    COVID made us all do some strange things.

    Yeah... I completely understand the sentiment.
    We all go a little crazy sometimes.

    Sure. When trying to avoid close contact with people, the first thing that comes to mind is to lock yourself into a small space with others.
    Okay, I'll let it go, then.
    Yeah, I figured I'd better explain that one a bit.

    I had to look at the map to see if I'd been through there. I have not.
    I think the middle section is my favorite part of Skyline Drive.

    If by "I've", you mean "you"... then yes.
    Sadly...I agree.

    That's a cool shot! :thumbsup2
    Thanks!

    Now there, I've been.
    Yes, so I've heard.

    Been there, although not via I-81. And... yeah, that looks really long.
    I-81 just keeps going...and going...and going...

    You think you're nearing the end of Virginia when you reach Roanoke, but there are 2 more hours to go after that.

    Try it at night in a driving rain.
    No thanks. Just reading about it was enough.

    Yeah, that'll do it. Then again, he's changed his mind on what he wants to do, so maybe it's a moot point anyways?
    (I don't really know.)
    It probably is a moot point now. Tennessee is part of a program where we would have been able to qualify for their in-state tuition rate if Dave took a major that was not offered at the U. of Delaware (such as aerospace engineering). But Delaware has mechanical engineering, so that program would no longer apply.

    Really! That is not how I imagined it at all!
    Well... that's disappointing.
    Yeah...it's pretty much one big tourist trap. The national park is nice, though. I have heard good things about Dollywood.

    I can't think of anything more refined. I thought... Opera? The symphony?

    Nope. Not even close.
    There is no comparison with mini golf and farm tractors.

    :confused3
    Why even have an alternative? How could you not do Plinko????
    We thought the same thing. The other way is so boring.

    Whoooooaaaa....

    1. Big!!!
    2. What a view!

    It really looks amazing. Seriously.
    That was such an awesome rental. I miss it quite a bit. Would love to go back.

    I can see how that would be the main draw.
    That early morning mist on the mountains is pretty special.

    Just... breathtaking.
    ::yes::

    Ugh. I think I might prefer the bear mauling.


    Okay, maybe not. But it's close.
    It's going to be a long time before I do that drive again. So irritating.

    Yeah... story of the last year and a half.
    I've been glad to get back to restaurants lately. Not sure if it's the same in Canada.

    mmmm... that sounds... decadent.
    Indeed it was!

    I'd love to drive the golf cart down that.... can see it cartwheeling all the way down.
    They should have 2 paths, the fast one and the slow one.

    Not possible. Don't even try to resist.
    Exactly.

    Never done either. But have seen it on TV or Youtube a couple times. And I'd love to try it. Now I know where I could.
    They had 4 of them in the area. It was really a great time.

    They look awfully relaxed for people who are about to risk their lives to gravity.
    Teenagers. Always ready to throw caution to the wind!

    So... do you sit on the sleds while they're being towed? Or do you meet them at the top?
    We got towed up to the top. It was actually pretty relaxing until we started going downhill.


    Is this the course that you wrote about? I don't remember the name, but do recall you talking about a course you did with your dad.
    Yep, that was the same course. It was so wild and crazy I wanted the boys to see and experience it too.

    That's only impressive if you didn't hit it from where Scotty is standing...
    If you'd seen me play, it would have been impressive even from there.

    Holy crap! You need a backhoe to get out of there! :faint:
    I know! You can't play this course without a sense of humor.

    He put it on the green... from there?!?!?!?
    He did! Now the green was just to the right of the photo, so it wasn't far, but still...it was a great shot.

    Very interesting shot. Like that one.
    Thanks!

    Yeah... you and me both. But maybe we're in the minority.
    Oh, I'm sure. At least, there sure seemed like a lot of people who didn't want to take any measures to shorten it.
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Like many of the rest of us. :sad2:
    We all went a little nuts last year.

    Worth the walk for sure. Very pretty!
    We thought so!

    That's GREAT!!
    Now let's hope for some scholarships.

    Pass. Although I will say that Dollywood is really a nice park.
    I've heard good things about Dollywood too. But we weren't going to visit during a pandemic.

    There is no plausible reason to NOT do this unless you simply wanted to win against your opponent who chose that way first.
    I guess. Even then, it's zero fun.

    That is breathtaking! And I'm sure 1,000% more beautiful in person.
    It's hard to capture the view in a photo. It was a panorama of the Smokies. Heavenly.

    Okay, that's just downright aggravating. Grrrr!
    I really hate driving behind slow people with no awareness of the delay they're causing others.

    ... with a $3.50 service fee.
    Well, naturally.

    Oh man! That sure looks fun!!!
    And it was!

    A great sandbox to let the kids play in while you spend the rest of the day trying to get your ball out.
    Not all day. Eventually, I'd just pick it up and toss it out of there.

    Luckily, theoretically one happens only once in a lifetime.
    Let us hope and pray this is the case.

    I can understand that logic!
    The walls are closing in!

    I notice that you didn't put a hyperlink on the town of Pigeon Forge in case we wanted to visit there. :rolleyes1
    Well, I could....but I wanted to spare you the carnage.

    It would be.....different.
    But fun!

    Very nice! I remember seeing the pictures on FB!
    Such a great place. I'd love to go back.

    :sad2: Fran would be constantly pulling over cause she hates people tailgating her and I'm sure that's going on with that road.
    It's impossible not to tailgate at 11 mph. I prefer it when the person in front is aware enough to pull over and let others pass if they want to go faster.

    Makes sense. I know Julie hates to cook on vacation, but didn't you share the house with friends. I would have loved to make one combined dinner and just chill on the balcony. But we don't have kids who aren't into "just chillin".
    Well, we made some breakfasts together and ate that on the balcony. So it all worked out.

    Sounds fun! If you can get back up from that position.
    This is more and more of a question these days.

    Here here! You are lucky to have a healthy family. While we can see the tiny light at the end of the tunnel, we're not quite sure how far it is to the end. With eight underlying conditions between the two of us we are still masking up in public, even outdoors (at Disney) and holding off on travel. We are going to take a trip to visit my parents who are also being as careful as we are. But we want to see what happens this Fall & Winter before letting our guard down. I read about the Spanish flu, and the rest of the world doesn't have this thing under control.
    I feel pretty confident in the vaccines thus far. It seems like the biggest danger for now is to the unvaccinated. But there's always the risk of a mutation, so I understand being careful.

    Looking forward to reading that! I could use some vicarious living. So few TRs out there!
    It's coming soon, I promise! There will be lots of scenery and eye candy.

    Thank you for sharing your stories and friendship. I know we have very different styles of travel, touring, dining, etc, but I love hearing about your adventures!
    Variety is the spice of life. If we all liked the same stuff, it would be a boring place. A truly mature adult welcomes disagreement and debate, and is humble enough to know that he/she doesn't know everything and is often wrong. I know I make fun of your dining choices, but it's all meant to be gentle teasing, nothing more. And I, likewise, have enjoyed your friendship and reading your adventures. I appreciate all you've done for us, Alison!

    Yay! You're going to get your 50th state!
    We did it! Finally.
     

    Captain_Oblivious

    DIS Dad #257, Galactic Salad Dodger
    Joined
    Nov 10, 2008
    Remember what I wrote? I can't even remember what I ate yesterday.
    I can certainly empathize with that.

    I loved reading about your pandemic travels! Hope you have a fantastic time in Alaska!
    Hey there, Magdalene! Thanks for checking in! We had a great trip. New TR coming soon.

    Always a struggle!!! LOL!!!
    When did we get so old?

    Wow that rental house looks amazing!! I grew up in NY but now live in FL so I'm used to seeing mountains but since living in FL, seeing them now has so much more meaning :tongue: So glad you got to escape during the pandemic. We managed a trip to Universal right after they opened up. Wearing a mask in 9,000 degrees was no fun but walking onto every single ride was an experience we won't soon forget! I hope Alaska is this summer! Can't wait to see those pics.
    Growing up in Delaware, any place with mountains seems exotic to me!

    I was tempted with theme parks given the controlled crowds, but so many things were closed I wasn't sure the experience would be the same. Glad you had a good time.

    We are back from Alaska and the new TR should be started soon!
     

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