Sunday, July 26, 2015

On the road again - parting thoughts on Pigeon Forge

East Coast Road Trip 2015 - Day 17
(it's a long post today folks, sorry)

Yesterday was a much needed day off. We all enjoyed the break from "road trip" mode.
But today we plan to get some miles under us. We are headed to the Georgia Aquarium.

As we leave Tennessee and Pigeon Forge behind us I have a few parting thoughts.
This location has been the biggest departure so far from the rest of the world. The town has about 6000 residents, but the main drag looks like a Family-themed Vegas (Vegi-Vegas, if you like).

Interesting looking attraction... nope none of these are casinos 
Lots of dinner shows.
Titanic Museum 
Wax museum 
Christmas Village - year round
I assume this place just got an bump in attendance, and no they are clearly not affiliated with the movie
Um... We'll take this swimsuit, those sunglasses and a LIVE Alligator?
They had a sister shop about a block down that had sharks :) 

Apparently Dollywood employs the equivelent of half the town. It's clearly very tourism focused.
Again here I haven't heard any foreign languages. Varying degrees of southern accents, and those have all been attached to some of the friendliest people we have encountered.
Only the tourists here are, shall we say reserved - the only person who cut us off yesterday had an out-of-state license plate.

We had the chance to do an Alpine Coaster while we were here.....
You ride in go-cart style cars down a track - you can ride single or double... so hubby rode with the  boy and I rode with the little lady.

Pic of the mountain and some track... no cameras allowed on the ride
This was by far my favorite ride of the trip so far. Funny thing to say and a bit unexpected. The ride up the hill was about 5 minutes through the trees. The trip down... faster :) but just as scenic.
We were able to control the speed if needed. They encourage you to "Hammer Down" meaning go as fast as the sled goes... it has an auto brake to keep you below unsafe speeds.
Well the girls went first, and the boys were behind us. I was slightly concerned about going fast, but was very comfortable with the track and the ride, so I had every intention of going for it. However, the woman in front of me... did not. They ask you to stay at least 80 feet behind the person in front of you and say DON'T BUMP the car in front of you. But they also say DON'T STOP along the way. So I slowed down a number of times to keep an appropriate distance. But it wasn't long until the boys caught up with us. At the bottom when we went to unload the attendant asked "How bad was it?" I didn't know what he meant.... then he said "Did you have to go really slow?" Oh, Yeah, I guess so. But it was ok.
Well, he apparently realized the woman in front was slowing often [Editor's note: Not a hard realization with 5 other cars lined up behind her by the time we got to the bottom] and offered us all a 2nd ride for free. Wow. We took it. This time we knew what to expect, which is a big hurdle for me and we went "Hammer Down" all the way... Woooo HOOOOOO!!!!!!!! What a ride.
The difference between the two rides was marked. The first ride we could see and were close to the person in front of us the whole time. The second... that car was no where to be seen. I braked a bit towards the end... one of the last curves snuck up on me. It was a great ride - a must do if you come out this way.  Long swooping curves and turns, some tighter than others, but all fun. No big drops or steep downhill parts, but you definitely come down the mountain faster than you went up :)
I am so glad we got a chance to check this out.

Welcome to Georgia
We have driven through Georgia in the past, but never stayed more than however long it takes to change planes or when we drove through to Hilton Head from Orlando, years ago.
Today we spent several hours in Atlanta. The Georgia Aquarium is great. A serious contender for best aquarium I have ever been to. Beautiful exhibits. But Oy the crowds. So much so that you get assigned a specific entry time for the day of your visit. And it was packed. We were able to see it all without any issue. We didn't do any of the behind the scenes experiences, but we enjoyed out visit. I took some issue with the dolphin show (in a nutshell, if you think you need to create some crazy musical type event to make a dolphin show interesting, maybe you shouldn't be at the aquarium? When you have to warn people about the lighting effect and the fog effects before an animal show, you should just assume I am rolling my eyes.) [Editor's note: If that doesn't seem like a "nutshell" you should have heard the version she gave me...]

Beluga Whales :) 
In the Ocean Voyager Exhibit 
Whale shark and Manta Ray - Huge critters
Bye bye Whale Shark!

Watching the fishes :)
at the top of the Beluga tank.... a few harbor seals on the deck
So one thing we noticed....the whole southern hospitality thing... it's gone now. I will give the good people of Georgia (in specific, Atlanta) the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to being in a big city. But warm and friendly... not so much. No biggie, we are city folk ourselves and used to the general attitude of go Go GO! (not that WE would adopt such aggressive behavior... at least we don't mean to). But it was a bit of an abrupt switch - welcome back to reality.

Our journey wasn't over yet... Home for the night is Alabama. Yup, another state!

Welcome to Alabama
And.... drum roll please! Hubby's last state. Yes, he has now been to all 50 states!!!! Can you believe it? I think he skipped Connecticut and just won't admit it ;) [Editor's note: I have vivid memories of Connecticut... My memories of Louisiana and Mississippi are kind of hazy though...]

So we will sleep here and yes, go to Starbucks here tomorrow, before we head out :)
Oh! And we realized somewhere around the Alabama border... that Alabama is in the Central time zone.... we have been living in the Eastern time zone for two weeks now... and to dip our toe in the Central zone for only 12 hours.... well, it kind of cracked us up.
[Editor's note: And yes, we did drive ~2 hours out of our way just to spend the night in Alabama...]

You Are Here Mug count up by 1.  I got Atlanta today.

Miles today: 365
Miles total: 2085
States Total: 12 (+Georgia, Alabama)
Starbucks Mug Total: 6
[Roller coasters total: 36 (+Alpine coaster)]

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