Roadtrip 2020 Day 12: Rocky Top Tennessee

After our first full day in Pigeon Forge visiting Alcatraz East and the Civil War Theater, we had planned to go to the Hollywood Wax Museum and the Titanic Exhibition.

We decided to let serendipity take over when we learned that morning the Hatfield and McCoys Dinner Theater didn’t have seating for two until three days later.

We drove by Dollywood but decided we’ll enjoy it on a future trip without pandemic concerns.

“Let’s checkout Gatlinburg,” I suggested. Dodie was enthusiastically agreeable.

The 7-mile drive was awesome and a great introduction to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as we winded through.

Pigeon Forge reminds me somewhat of Branson, Missouri and a bit like the South end of the Vegas Strip (minus casinos) in the late 1970s. A long, busy Parkway with competing attractions, tourist shops and restaurants are lined along both sides.

Gatlinburg is nestled in the mountains, twisting its way wherever an attraction, store, or cafe will fit. Unlike Pigeon Forge, it’s possible to find a central place to park and walk your way to most of it.

Some of its key attractions offer sweeping views of the National Park, including the 407-ft. Space Needle observation tower and a Sky Lift up Crockett Mountain, and a 2.1-mile aerial cable car that journeys from Downtown to the popular amusement resort Ober Gatlinburg.

Because of COVID concerns, we were more cautious in Gatlinburg. People are spread out more in Pigeon Forge, but Gatlinburg tourism is squeezed in tighter spaces. 

Almost by accident, we found the Christ Museum and spent a little over an hour inside. Dodie especially enjoyed the voiced over tour depicting various scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.

We walked over to the Gatlinburg Skylift about two blocks away figuring we would be properly socially distancing ourselves high above the town.

At the top of the mountain is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, where the next evening eight volunteers draped a massive 60-foot long American flag over the side. The flag will stay there until July 5 for the holiday weekend.

The bridge is the country’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Midway across the 700 foot structure, thick see-through panels replace wooden planks offering a birds eye view of the ground far below.

On the other side we had a view overlooking some of the most famous mountains of the Smokies. When she saw Rocky Top, Dodie started singing:

Rocky Top, you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol’ Rocky Top
Rocky Top, Tennessee
Rocky Top, Tennessee

Travel Log

Texans Jack & Dodie View All →

Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Music
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Actors
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Space Explorers
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
Notables
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.

As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.

He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.

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