Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pigeon Forge

[I don't think I've ever been seriously called classist or elitist before, if I'm not careful this post will change that.]

Pigeon Forge: The Pook and I needed a vacation.  Having just acquired the Bean only two months ago[1] and thus also having acquired all of the medical bills and debt that go along with a newborn, we could only afford something cheap.  We didn't really care where it was as location was less important than having a few days of peace and quiet and a few nights of uninterrupted sleep.  Thus, with a little research we decided to go to Pigeon Forge.

My previous experience with Pigeon Forge was when I was much younger[2] and I remember it essentially being a long street of alternating: mini-golf, go-cart tracks, restaurants and water parks.  The Pook's previous experience was as a young adult, driving there, taking one look at the place, and not stopping.

The Pook and I both love to play us some putt-putt and Pigeon Forge is evidently the third best mini-golf city in the country[3].  Thus we decided to give it a chance and gird ourselves for the worst. In other words, our expectations were low.

We didn't put them low enough.  

Don't get me wrong, we had a good time.  We ate at nice restaurants.  We played a LOT of mini-golf[4].  We wandered around a few shops.  And we tried very hard to ignore everything else that was going on around us.

What can I say about a place in which culture has advanced[5] to a stage in which the best the town has to offer is your choice of dinner theater at either "The Hatfields vs the McCoys" or "Lumberjack Feud"?  (Perhaps I'm not being fair by leaving out the Dixie Stampede.)  

If comedy is more to your liking you can go to the Comedy Barn, or the Smith Family Theater.  Judging from the posters that I saw, the comedic heights are achieved at both locations by having dogs that jump through hoops and an old man that dresses up like a woman.[6]  Of course the Comedy Barn's poster did assure me that they were the "funniest show in town" [7].

You can also visit any number of entertainment venues owned by the Ripley's organization or by Dollie Pardon (or possibly both).  And while there weren't nearly so many water parks as I remember from my youth, you can still find plenty of mini-golf and go-cart tracks.

Perhaps you are more into shopping?  Well you are in luck, I saw no less than six different "As Seen on TV" superstores.  Six of them!  Each one as big as a large grocery store.  And presumably they are all doing a fair amount of trade.  You can also find a plethora of "antique" stores.  One of which proclaimed in large letters: New Hope Antiques . . . for a better life.  I'm not sure if they were saying there was a better life for the antiques or for you.

In truth you'd be hard pressed to find a store that wasn't just selling your choice of junk or crap.

Also you are definitely in luck if you are in the market for: Fudge, T-shirts, Fudge, Fireworks, Fudge, Cheap Souvenirs, Fudge, Tacky Blankets, Fudge, Tattoos, Fudge, Body Piercings, Fudge or Fudge[8]  Many of the billboards (and there are a lot of them) advertise whatever it is the store is primarily selling and then in large letters in a blue star on the bottom corner it also says, "Fudge!"  As if someone driving down the road and seeing a billboard for fireworks, but unmoved to visit the establishment, suddenly spies the lower right corner and says, "Fudge!  Well in that case maybe I do need some fireworks.  It's not like you can get fudge just any place in this town."

If you venture a little bit south you can get to Gatlinburg.  Gatlinburg is a touch classier than Pigeon Forge, but that's a bit like saying Boss Hogg is smarter than Roscoe [9].  My favorite place there was a "Shoot 'em Up Theater that claimed to be in "5D".  I tried as hard as I could, without actually paying money, to find out what the fourth and fifth D were, but to no avail.

In between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, cringing up into the sky trying to remain unsullied, is part of the Smokey Mountain National Park.  It is exceedingly beautiful and generally untouched by man [10].

The people were all very friendly. I'm not one to indiscriminately mock people, so I'll just leave you with this anecdote.  After purchasing a round of mini-golf the lady behind the counter saw that the bank on my debit card had the word Georgia in its title.  She smiled at us and said, "Ye from Georgie?" [11]

Having said all of that, it was a very cheap vacation.  We did eat at some very nice restaurants[12].  If you are in to mini-golf you have plenty to choose from and overall we had a fine time.

Pigeon Forge Overall: C+
Pigeon Forge with Blinders On: B+
Pigeon Forge if you really like Fudge: A+

1 - It already seems like he's always been around.
2 - Somewhere in the middle of my teens, I believe.
3 - Myrtle Beach is #1 and some city in Missouri was #2.
4 - Expect another post soon with an in depth review of the courses we visited.
5 - I use that term very loosely
6 - Jonathan Winters would be proud.
7 - Of course, see this post to see what that means.
8 - You can also get Fudge there.
9 - While were on the topic of the Dukes of Hazard, don't forget to visit the Cooter Museum, Mini-golf, Go-Cart and Souvenir Store while you're in Gatlinburg.
10 - With the exception of the four lanes of blacktop running through it, that is.
11 - Just to be clear, that isn't a typo, to pronounce this gem properly the first and last word should both rhyme with 'me'.
12 - I'll have a separate post on those as well.

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