Summer 2012


Aug 27, 2012

We spent another afternoon in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  On our way through Gatlinburg we ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a fun place to enjoy a good meal.  The wait staff entertains their customers with trivia regarding both Tom Hanks and the movie “Forest Gump.”  The dining area is decorated in movie memorabilia and we enjoyed both our meal and the atmosphere.  Our Smoky Mountains visit included a hike up (emphasis on up!) a 1/2 mile paved path to the Clingmans Dome observation tower.  It is a beautiful tower and we’re sure the views are awesome on a clear day, but it was very overcast and foggy the day we visited so we were barely able to see the nearby trees.  We could, however, see and feel the clouds and fog rolling through.  Our hike back down to the parking area was on a 1/2 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, which truly is a rocky footpath, barely wide enough for one person.  The Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its journey from Georgia to Maine.  We enjoyed the hike and can now say we’ve walked a portion of the 2,184 mile long Appalachian Trail.

Bob spent an August weekend in Indianapolis, where he played in the Indianapolis Open chess tournament.  He stayed with son, Eric, so enjoyed visiting with he & Nicole, as well as a leisurely lunch with his sister Cynthia.  While he was in Indy, Kathy enjoyed spending a day using the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg trolleys to tour the Arts & Crafts district as well as some other areas she hadn’t seen. 

Eric & NicoleTournament HallRoger Blaine on leftLast Round opponent Richard with delightful kids!Top BoardsCo-Winner Alexander GoldinStanding after 4 rounds - Bob's tied for 5th!

Our good friends, Tina & Denny brought their camper and Kathy’s sister Ruthie for a weekend visit.  We took Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge by storm!  We enjoyed a delicious dinner at The Peddler Steakhouse, on the Little Pigeon Forge River.  The restaurant is constructed around the C. Earl Ogle cabin, the home of a descendant of one of Gatlinburg’s first pioneer families, with material from four other original home sites used to complete the structure.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere rustic yet intimate and afterwards we enjoyed strolling the parkway.  The guys played golf at Gatlinburg Golf Course, which they thoroughly enjoyed.  The girls shopped till they nearly dropped at Tanger Outlet Mall in Sevierville; the mall will never be the same!  We enjoyed a delicious lunch at KT’s Bar & Grill, and in case you ever decide to eat there, the portions are HUGE!  We also had to visit the Christmas Place, a must-see whenever you visit Pigeon Forge.  We ended their weekend visit with breakfast at Flapjacks Pancake Cabin and a round of miniature golf at Hillbilly Golf.  What a great weekend.  Oh, yes, we also ate our way through several ice cream shops!

L to R Bob, Kathy, Tina, Ruthie, Denny

A year or two after we were married, we spent a week in Pigeon Forge, staying at the same hotel where Kathy’s parents had stayed.  We visited Silver Dollar City, which was mainly an artisan area with lots of demonstrations and wares for sale.  Needless to say, Pigeon Forge has grown tremendously over the past 36 years, but we think we located the same motel.  Silver Dollar City is now Dollywood, which has also grown tremendously and now includes many rides and shows.  We recently enjoyed a day there, taking the trolley from the campground to Dollywood and back.  We had a great time, watching shows, browsing shops, watching various crafts and of course, eating.  Based on all we’ve heard, even from locals, Dolly Parton hasn’t forgotten her roots and truly gives back to her community.

Parton Family Band many of whom have toured with Dolly!

We are winding down our Pigeon Forge stay and will soon be heading west to Columbia, TN where we will visit son Mike & family.  About mid-September we will head north, stopping for a few days at Spring Mill State Park in southern Indiana, an IU football game in Bloomington, and then arriving at S&H Campground in Greenfield for the fall.


August 2012 -- We went to see a Tennessee Smokies baseball game last nite. They are a AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. We ignored this affiliation and rooted for the home team! The game was good but the Fireworks Display after the game was magnificent! We also spent a day being tourists.  First we visited the Muscle Car Museum in Sevierville, a very interesting place with over 90 muscle cars. While we are neither one big car fans, we grew up when Detroit Iron ruled the road with big fast cars. In addition to the cars there were several displays of various things from the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

Custom MercuryBob with cut out of Hopalong CassidyKathy with a 1966 Chevelle 396 SS

1954 CorvetteBob with a stainless steel CobraFort Torino built for NASCAR - The King Cobra!

1955 the first Thunderbird1963 Thunderbird

Super Stock DodgePlymouth Road RunnerDodge Viper

Next we enjoyed the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge.  Upon entry, we each received a boarding pass, with the name and information of an actual Titanic passenger.  The museum is very well done with several interactive exhibits as well as timelines and information.  At the end we learned whether our passengers survived; we both did! However, pictures were not allowed so we can post only one pic of Bob outside the Museum.


We enjoyed a day at the Knoxville Zoo.  The weather started fairly pleasant but warmed quickly, so we were appreciative of the shaded walkways.  Many of the animals were visible although not always active.  It was interesting to think about how many of these animals we’d actually seen in the wild.  One interesting tidbit was lunch. Bob ordered what he thought was a Bacon Cheeseburger with Onion Rings on the side. Check out the picture to see what he got! What a wonderful world we live in and we appreciate the freedom and health to visit so many interesting places.

Condor - They can have up to a 12' wingspan!Condor - They can have up to a 12' wingspan!

Nice picture of a White RhinoRed PandaBald Eagles

GorillaWild HogBaboonGazelle

Bob's Lunch - not what I expected!Zebra

RedTailHawkOWLPrairieDogBlack Bear

Bob is preparing for the Indianapolis Open Chess Tournament to be held this month.  He will be staying with son Eric, so will enjoy spending some time with him as well.

July 2012 -- We are staying in Pigeon Forge, TN until the end of August. This is a nice park and is on the trolley route into the city. However, we have a new alarm clock at our campsite at Creekside RV Resort, a beautiful male cardinal who starts banging on our back windows at 6:00 am every morning.  Guess he doesn’t know we’re retired and don’t want to get up that early!  It took several days to get these pictures as he’s so quick.  Although he is beautiful, he’s getting a little tiring, so now we’re trying to find a way to get him to stop!


We enjoyed a day in Pigeon Forge, taking the town trolley from our campground downtown to the Old Mill District.  We strolled the shops, talked to some local artisans and enjoyed a delicious country lunch at the Old Mill Restaurant. 

We spent a hot day in the Smoky Mountain National Park, driving and enjoying the Cade's Cove loop.  The only wildlife we saw was wild turkeys, but the views were beautiful and we enjoyed stopping at some of the old buildings. 

Bob at one of the houses in Cade's CoveThe old mill (still in use) from the mill race. Mushroom

Church youth group from GeorgiaSmoky Mountains

Old Methodist ChurchSmoky Mountain Artist


We then went into Gatlinburg for the rest of the afternoon. We went to an Arts and Crafts show and had dinner in town. Very nice day.

June 2012 - Left Indianapolis for the IndyCar Race in Milwaukee, WI. Had a great time hanging out with Panther Racing and watching the race. JR retired with an overheating engine, so that was a bummer.

We then traveled to Hershey PA and went thru the Hershey World exhibits as well as the Hershey museum. Stayed at a nice campground and had a good time. One of the things we were able to do was to make our own custom Hershey Bar. I felt like kind of an idiot dressed up in my sanitary clothes but making it was cool. We also attended a class on how chocolate is produced and much information on the history of the Hershey Chocolate company and the town of Hershey (The sweetest town in the world, complete with Hershey Kisses for street lights!)

Bob dressed up to make his custom chocolate bar.Kathy's custom candy bar

Another silly picture of Bob ready to make a candy bar. Kathy with here favorite - world's largest KitKatBob with World's largest Hershey Kiss and Hershey bar

Kathy with Mr. Reese's CupBob at Chocolate WorldHershey Kiss lampost in Hershey PA

Next we headed to Philadelphia PA so Bob could play in the World Open Chess Tournament. It is the premier amateur tournament in the world and was attended by about 1200 players. Due to the large prize fund ($250,000) all of the players were primed and ready to play there best chess. Here are Bob's notes and some pictures of the tournament; 2012 World Open Chess Tournament. While Bob was playing chess, Kathy  spent her time exploring the sights around Philadelphia. Included in her adventures were: The Eastern Penitentiary, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Franklin Institute, City Hall and the Game Board Park.

Bob ready to play in his UT Dallas Chess team tee shirt given to him by good Friend BillPenn's LandingArt MusuemStatue of Rocky Balboa

Al Copone's cell at Eastern Penitentiary Eastern PenitentiaryEastern Penitentiary

Eastern PenitentiaryEastern PenitentiaryEastern PenitentiaryNational Constitution Institute

City HallNational Constitutional InstituteNational Constitutional Institute

Reading Terminal MarketGame Board ParkOak Grove Campground

Once the tournament was over, we had a nice dinner at the Century House in Hatfield, PA. We later spent the day at Valley Forge. It was interesting to see, first hand, how the army spent the winter, how they were housed, fed, and supplied. We didn't realize how great an impact the time spent at Valley Forge had on the Continental Army. They began to standardize firearms, uniforms, unit organization and tactics. These changes made supply, maneuver and travel easier for the Army.

WashingtonMemChapel at Valley ForgeWashington's HeadquartersBob at Valley Forge in front of commenertive archBuck and Ball musket cartridge