By Dennis Richardson, Magic Valley Publishing
This past weekend we took off a couple of extra days in order to make the most of our umpteenth visit to the Smokey Mountains.
We like to alternate travels between the mountains and the beach. Each has its special attractions calling all visitors.
Lisa found this unique Treehouse in the forest: Treehouse Grove at Norton Creek in Gatlinburg. The two-bedroom homes were actually one bedroom homes with a a private loft and really were built among the trees, anchored with bolts and cables. Trees grew up through the decks and parts of some of the homes.
It was a step up from actual camping and our first meal was a hotdog cookout around the firepit just off our kitchen. For $7 we were able to buy a bundle of dry firewood which came in really handy since thunderstorms had pretty well soaked any branches we could otherwise find.
Rules advised us to not leave any garbage or food outside the home except in bear-proof containers. We found out why the next evening. One large black bear must’ve smelled something good to eat as he came prowling around right under the house where our son’s family was staying. The granddaughters spotted him first while playing in the porch swing beneath the house. He was apparently just as scared of them as they were of the bear and they were able to scurry up the stairs to safety inside while the bear lumbered on through the woodsy village.
After our stay at the Tree House we all moved down the road into a two-bedroom condo at the Appleview River Resort which is actually located in Sevierville but right off the Parkway leading into all the attractions in Pigeon Forge. The resort provided breakfast passes to our favorite place to eat, the nearby Applewood Restaurant.
Appleview is one of our favorite places to stay and includes one, two, three and four bedroom individually-owned condos, some overlooking the Little Pigeon River and others across the street surround the pool. Our unit included a balcony overlooking a swelled river. Early morning hours were the best as that side was still shaded from the morning sun. A squirrel danced through the grass and perched on top of a large rock and birds were especially noisy as they seemed to be waking up. On an earlier visit Canadian Geese swooped along the river. We saw about 200 of them in the water down stream.
Appleview added an RV and camper campground with its own pool since our visit last year.
We found plenty of cool things to do in the attractions department. Lisa and Daniel took two of the girls on a mountain roller coaster ride and we all found lots of interesting things inside Ripley’s Believe it or Not. There’s a relatively new attraction called The Lens that I liked. It’s theme was camera lenses, motion pictures and free games to play on giant screens like Candy Crush, Wheel of Fortune, Pac Man, Connect Four and others.
I really enjoyed life among God’s creation up the mountain (via chair lift) where we spotted an eagle gliding above the hills while we trekked toward the long suspension bridge. In clear view were tree stubs along the ridges where fires blamed on arson ravaged the mountains in the fall of 2016, consuming almost 18,000 acres and destroying 2,400 buildings including stores and homes.
Driving through the green landscapes and witnessing eagles, a large black bear, squirrels and birds, nature come to life to reinforce our beliefs in a God that created it all. That made the trip extra special.
Dennis Richardson is the CEO of Magic Valley Publishing, Inc., which owns the Chester County Independent.