Early Morning in Gatlinburg

One of my favorite things to do in late November is to get up before dawn and wander around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Thousands of lights and other Christmas decorations cover the streets and small shops all around town. And with hardly anyone else on the streets and sidewalks the beauty of it all is just awesome. Thanks to the Donut Friar opening at 5am one can grab a delicious fresh donut and a hot cup of coffee to help battle the chill in the air. Sometimes, overcome with temptation, I hang around until 7am and have breakfast at the wonderful Pancake Pantry. My favorite is the Peach Delight, three thin rolled crepes filled with a delicious blend of ricotta and cream cheese and peaches. Then topped with peach compote, powdered sugar and whipped cream. Wow! When finished with my indulgence maybe I’ll take a short drive in the mountains before returning to the camper and greeting my wife “good morning”.

The New And Beautiful Foothills Parkway

September 10, 2018

Tampa and I had the wonderful privilege yesterday of joining with several others for a sneak-peak atop the new section of Foothills Parkway. We were joined by Cassius Cash, Superintendent of the National Park, and project managers and engineers, whom have been working of the project for several years, along with many other “Friends of the Smokies”. We stopped on the new Bridge 5 for a champagne toast and celebration while taking in some of the incredible views of the mountains. I spent many days working on this project in 1982 and was thrilled to see the near finished job. It will be open to the public sometime around Veterans Day.


November 12, 2018
Yesterday I took my first drive on the newly opened section of the “Foothills Parkway” in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And this morning, just after daylight, I drove it again. This is one of the prettiest 15 mile drives anyone could ever take, especially this time of year. Fall colors are just beyond their peak but still very beautiful. If you have yet to drive this road, stop what you’re doing, get in your car and head that way right now! I know it’s raining but you will be amazed at the beauty of this scenic roadway. I feel privileged to have worked on this project back in 1982 now that I can see the amazing results of completion. Although that wasn’t what I was thinking when our core drilling crews were blazing their way thru that mountain for the first time. We spent many difficult hours cutting dozer roads, dragging our large core drill buggy and water tank truck thru the woods as well as doing the difficult core drilling. But I must admit we also had some fun times driving our jeep up, down and around that mountain to reach our work sites. One of our favorite sayings was, “Some people would pay a lot of money to take jeep rides in these mountains, but we are getting paid to do it!”. I see a lot of completed roadway and bridge projects that I recall working on over my 47 year career with TDOT, but none come close to the outstanding beauty of this new roadway. Hurry and go look for yourself!

Here are a few photos of before and after.  I remember this particular drilling like it was just last week. This was our first attempt at something like this.

Christmas at Dollywood

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Or at least here in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Christmas lights and decorations are shining bright all along the Parkway and many businesses. But there is no place like Dollywood to get one in the Christmas Spirit. It was only two weeks ago I was enjoying the thousands of beautifully carved pumpkins as I wandered about the park. But now, after being closed for a few days, Dollywood is decorated with over 5 million lights. Last night, due to temperatures in the low 40’s and a light drizzle of rain, I was one of only a few strolling about the park and taking in some seasonal shows. It was a fun night. But since I had to leave before seeing the new Glacier Ridge area I must return. But maybe I’ll wait for the rain to end. Hope my video will encourage you to make a visit soon.

Halloween at Dollywood

I don’t celebrate Halloween, but I do enjoy it. I like the pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin beer and all the carved pumpkins on display. So, Halloween night I wandered on over to Dollywood to experience the sights and sounds of the season. The skill of the pumpkin carvers was on brilliant display during the “Great Pumpkin Luminights”. And what a beautiful evening with temps around 60 degrees. I hope you can get a glimpse of all the beauty as you check out my video.