Category Archives: October

UPDATED: Snow update: Cataloochee Ski Area opens today…

UPDATE: I’ve had a guy asking me to update this page. is where this story came from.  They had the breaking news below on their website.  Now it says they ended up NOT opening due to warm temperatures.  You can see that from the link provided below, but I wanted to update here as well so it wouldn’t be so confusing.


Check out the webcam at Cataloochee ski area in Maggie Valley.  Snow cannon is blasting the snow right now.  They plan to open for the season today.   A copy of their “breaking news” on the opening is below…

Breaking News!!!
Well…the weather is here and we know you’re all beautiful and we hope to see each of you on Monday! You heard it right, we began making snow for the 2009/2010 snowsports season on Sunday, October 18 at 6:45am and with a weather forecast for lows in the 20’s for tonight, Cataloochee plans on making snow as long as temperatures permit on Beginners Easy Way and Beginners Rabbit Hill and plans to kick off the 2009/2010 season at 1pm on Monday, October 19. to find out the latest on skiing at Cataloochee.

***We skied at Cataloochee last winter, and stayed at while we were there.  It was a blast, and we hope to do it again this year.***


A quick post… Not much snow, but there is a little snow in the Smoky Mountains now…. I saw some on the Cataloochee ski are webcam.

It is really foggy, so keep checking back to see it better!

I also saw a good bit of white at the Cold Mountain webcam…

Cold Mountain Webcam with snow

It looks like snow/water are all over the camera, so it’s not a great shot there, but check it out none-the-less.

Take a look at my live webcams page for updates of snow around the Smokies…


***A great place to stay warm (with the fireplace) while in the Smokies is . That’s our favorite place to stay when we’re in the Smokies!***

Our drive up to Clingmans Dome…

In the car, headed to Clingmans Dome

I’m continuing my blog posts about our trip last weekend in the Smoky Mountains.  This time, it’s our drive up to Clingmans Dome. 

Chimney Tops in the distance

One of the first sites you see after driving past the Sugarlands Visitor Center toward Clingmans Dome is the Chimney Tops mountain. 

Chimney Tops from the side

Above is sort of a side view of Chimney Tops.  Veronica and I hiked up to the very top the last time we were to the Smokies without the kids.  The very top is as close to climbing a sheer rock face without ropes as I ever want to get.  But it was well worth the hike. 

The "knot" tunnel

This is the tunnel my family now refers to as the “knot” tunnel.  If you’ve ever listened to the audio tape they sell at the visitors centers that gives you a driving tour of the road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  As the story goes, when they were building the road, they had some extra road left over.  They decided to just tie it into a knot to use up the extra road.  The girls get a kick out of that every time we drive through.

The drive continues

We continued our drive down the road, and through some of the best scenery in America…

Mountain view

As you can see, we had clouds most of the time during this trip…

Trees of the Smokies

The only problem with driving is, sometimes you don’t get a chance to fully appreciate the trees.  But it was a bit cool, so we decided not to stop until we got to Clingmans Dome.

More trees of the Smokies

You can see a little color in the trees, but clearly, there is more color to come this season.

Clingmans Dome parking area

Ok, we’ve made it to the Clingmans Dome parking area.  These are some of the best views in the Smokies.  I’ll post a full “Clingmans Dome Hike” blog soon:)  I hope you’re enjoying these trip report “posts” from the Smokies…

***If you’re planning a trip to the Smokies, plan to visit to find the place you want to stay.  You’ll love it as much as my family and I do!***

Our afternoon in Gatlinburg…

Sky Lift View

We spent a couple of hours in Gatlinburg this trip.  I’ve mentioned before, it seems like the more we visit the area, the less time we spend actually IN Gatlinburg.  But we do enjoy spending some time there.  We walked down the strip and took a ride up the chair lift.

"Fall" teepee

The irony of this fall decoration is, I assume they have teepees out there (this one behind the aquarium) are representing the Cherokee Indians.  Well, they didn’t really use teepees.  Oh well, they have teepees in Cherokee as well (tourists want photos next to them even if they are not authentic.)  Cherokee generally lived in cabins. 

Planting of Fall Flowers

I took this photo, because it seems like the flowers in the area are always bright and beautiful. It has been rare that you see them actually being planted.  It would be interesting to talk to the city workers who keep the plants fresh, because it appears they are constantly updating the plants in the city.

Coloring at TGI Friday

The girls had fun coloring to pass the time at lunch at T.G.I. Friday.

Passing time at TGI Friday

After lunch, it was down the parkway to the chair lift.

Chair lift

It’s always fun, and slightly scary when you sit with your child next to you on a swing made of pipe attached (by a small hook) to a wire being pulled directly up a mountain.

Heading up the mountain

But, there is nothing like the view from the top.  Sort of like life in general… you often have to do things that scare you to get to the best views in life.




View from the top

After the chair lift, the girls wanted to “go play with the big marble” at Ripley’s across the street…

Playing with a 10,000 pound marble

Then, to Veronica’s favorite candy store in Gatlinburg (she loved the sugar-free fudge)…

Aunt Mahalia's Candy Shop

It was time to check out once everyone had a little candy…

Checking out with candy

Finally, a last photo before heading back to the car… posing in front of Ripley’s Aquarium

Posing in front of Ripley's Aquarium


***This post brought to you by our favorite place to stay when we’re in the Smokies, .  It has some of the best views of the mountains.  Check it out!***

Trip Report… Clingman’s Dome, Smith Family Theater and Dollywood

We arrived a little after midnight Wednesday night.  We settled into our home for the weekend and hit the sack. 

On Thursday morning, we decided to do something we RARELY get a chance to do… not set an alarm clock.  My wife woke up earlier in the morning, but I didn’t get up until around 11 or so.  It was awesome.  Then we went downtown for lunch.  (TIP: We almost always park behind Ripley’s Aquarium.  It’s $1.75 the first half hour, and $1 each additional hour, maximum $6. It’s also right in the middle of town) We ate TGIFriday’s for lunch, then walked back up to the Sky Lift.  Enjoyed both. Afterwards, the girls wanted to touch the huge 10,000 pound marble in front of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.  They had a great time there as usual.  If you have a young child, they will love playing with that for a few minutes (plus, it’s free.) After that, we walked back toward the car, stopping at Mahalia’s Candy shop so my wife could get some sugar-free fudge which she loves.  I told her not to buy too much, since we’re planning on stopping at the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory on the way home.  We stopped there last trip, and it was a great little place, so we’re going to make that a regular feature of our trips home.  I like to find little stops on the way home, because it makes the trip home go by quicker.  When we got back to the car, we headed for Clingman’s Dome.  It was probably 3-3:30PM by this time.  On the way up the mountain, we noticed the front right tire was making a funny noise as it turned (we bought this used car on Monday… a Kia Sedona Minivan, but it is in good shape, and we were excited about taking it on vacation.)  Anyhow, we made it to Clingman’s Dome without the tire tearing up.  We hiked Clingman’s Dome and enjoyed that trip completely.  I always enjoy Clingman’s Dome.  OH… I wanted to mention this one… The last couple times we’ve hiked Clingman’s Dome, I’ve been wanting to see if I could hike the whole way up without stopping to rest.  I took small steps at a time, but this trip, I didn’t have to stop ONCE!  That was a little victory for me:)  Anyhow, when we got back to the van, my wife and I were riding with the windows down listening for the tapping noise the tire was making, and we could still hear it.  On the way back down the mountain, I decided to stop the car and just look at the tire again.  I looked at the tire and touched it with my hand.  When I touched plastic hub cover it made that tapping sound.  I went around to the other tires and none of them tapped.  The plastic cover was a little bit loose!  I took off the cover and we got back in the car, NO MORE NOISE, LOL.  We were so happy.  I had considered going somewhere in the mountains to get my van fixed, when it was all just the plastic hub  cover.  The van is fine now.  By now, it was getting close to 6, and we had tickets to the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge…. I’ll post all about that soon…. stay tuned:)



***When you head for the Smokies, make sure you head to when it’s time to relax and hit the sack.  It’s the perfect way to make your vacation all that it can be!***

Headed to the Smoky Mountains…


Ok, I’ll be on the road in about 4-5 hours, headed to the Smokies. As usual, I’m excited about the trip.  This time, we’re not staying at .  The problem is, this was sort of a last minute trip.  With it being October, it was booked all but one weekend.  (While on the topic, Dave tells me he is offering 10-28% off the whole month of October [weekend of the 15th is still available] in )

We’ll get up there tonight, and we’re staying until Sunday.  We’re trying to keep this trip wide open.  Sometimes I think we spend too much time doing “stuff” in the mountains.  We rarely get a day to just lounge around or do nothing at all.  The only things on the agenda this time are Dollywood (Friday) and a dinner theater show I’ve wanted to see for a couple of years, but so far have not had the chance to enjoy, The Smith Family Theater.  I plan to give a full report of the show here on the blog when I get back.  That’s scheduled for Thursday night.  Saturday is wide open, and all day Thursday is wide open.  We’ll probably either spend time in the mountains, at the house we’re staying in or in downtown Gatlinburg. 

There is a special “astronomy” night Saturday night at Cades Cove presented by the park and the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society  I haven’t even mentioned that to my wife yet, but if the weather is good, I might suggest that Saturday. 

I can’t wait.  Of course, I’ll try to make sure to take a number of photos, and even some videos of the area to post here and on my gosmoky youtube page. 



Smoky Mountains gearing up for fall… I can’t wait!



This is one of my personal favorite times of the year in the mountains (ok, I’ll be honest, I love it up there pretty much anytime, but the color of the mountains does make it that much more special.:) Since I live in Charleston, I’m just a few minutes away from the ocean.  I actually work at a T.V. station that is literally on Charleston harbor.  I get to see the full harbor and the ocean each morning as I drive in to work.  I’m very fortunate.  This year, I’ve made more of an effort to spend time at the beach.  Whether walking for a few minutes at lunchtime or just after work, or taking the whole family for several hours in the sun.  I’ve been enjoying the summer.  But now that fall is here, there are so many things we do that I can’t wait to enjoy.  We go to a local pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin for the girls.  We also walk through the corn maze.  The Coastal Carolina Fair will be here at the end of October.  That’s a tradition I’ve been enjoying since I was a kid.  As soon as it gets cold, I’ll probably attend an oyster roast of some sort.  As much as I’m not an oyster-aholic, there is something special about standing around a couple of trashcans with plywood on top loaded down with steaming oysters that’s just plain fun.  Hopefully I’ll be enjoying that in the near future.  Then there’s the hayrides.  We usually go to my old church on Halloween night, where some of the men from the church have a hayride for the kids set up.  My kids love that so much, we rarely go trick or treating.  Then of course, there is FALL IN THE MOUNTAINS.  The fall displays will be in place (probably already are,) mountain music and brisk, coolness will be in the air.  The hike to Clingman’s Dome will be a cold one.  Then Dollywood will be decorated to the nines, and Southern Gospel music will fill the air as crafters work their magic throughout the park.  I can’t wait to see the mountains in the fall.  Tom from Pigeon Forge sent me a press release of some of the things planned for this time of year.  See the release below…  As for my family and I, we’re planning a long weekend in the Smokies for next weekend.  I’ll fill you in with more details about our plans soon.  Fall is a great time of year to see the Smokies.  Get out and JUST DO IT!

***We love staying at when we’re in the Smokies.  Right between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, with great views at the top of the mountain, you will not be disappointed.***


Press release below (from Pigeon Forge)……

October Draws Craft Lovers to Pigeon Forge, Great Smoky Mountains

Two major crafts events highlight start of autumn leaf season

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (October 2009)—Scores of talented artists and craftsmen seem to take a cue from Mother Nature when the leaves start changing colors in the Great Smoky Mountains and appear in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for two major autumn festivals.

Basket makers, carvers, painters and others are on hand for the Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Festival and Dollywood’s National Gospel & Harvest Celebration.

+ The Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Crafts Festival (Oct. 1-30) is one of the region’s biggest crafts events, attracting almost 50 craftsmen, artists and exhibitors from more than a dozen states.  It takes place under a giant red and white tent at Patriot Park. Rotarians volunteer their time to run the festival, and proceeds benefit numerous charities.

+ Dollywood’s National Gospel & Harvest Festival (Oct. 2-31) complements the theme park’s regular operation with an array of traditional and contemporary craftsmen and adds scores of free gospel music concerts to the entertainment lineup. Among the featured crafts are spinning, weaving, sorghum making, fiddle making, rug hooking and woodworking.

Both events take place against the backdrop of Pigeon Forge’s Harvestfest season, which continues through Oct. 31.  

During Harvestfest, businesses throughout the city erect fanciful fall displays of hay bales, scarecrows, cornstalks, pumpkins, gourds, sunflowers, mums and other symbols of the season.

The Pigeon Forge Travel Planner and information about all aspects of the city are available online at or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100. The travel planner includes the Pigeon Forge Value Card, which offers more than $300 worth of discounts.