In Which I Offer Myself for Service

Okay, so poor spelling and, shall we say, creative syntax is sort of a running joke in the area of the country where I recently vacationed (Gatlinburg, Tennessee). Still, there is no good reason to assault the English language (and those who respect it) with such punctuation and spelling as the screen below shows (from the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge):

This is not hillbilly humor. It's a mistake. A couple of them, actually. So I propose a solution. I am available--very affordable, I might add--to all commercial and entertainment venues in that area as a proofreader and grammar-and-spelling enforcer extraordinaire. Call me, please. You owe it to yourself, and the people you serve.

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The Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Show

Each time the lovely Robin and I vacation in the Gatlinburg area, we try to take in one of the many live shows there are to choose from. Previous experiences have ranged from the truly awful (we would've asked for our money back if we didn't pity everyone concerned) to the fun if not fantastic.

Tonight we chose the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show, in its second season, and we were very pleasantly surprised.

The repast was quickly served, and it was well presented and quite tasty. While the portions were not overly generous (by American standards), they were ample and completely satisfying without tempting us to over-indulge.

But the show was the pleasantest of surprises. The music was top notch--not only guitar, banjo, fiddle, and upright bass, all very expertly played--but also spoons, washboard, and more. Young men and women supplied mesmerizing "fancy footing," and some of the harmonies (especially on "Down to the River to Pray") were outstanding. And though I am SO not a fan of yodeling, I even found its occasional insertion into the music delightful.

The large cast earned my admiration and appreciation, and I recommend the show to all visitors to the area.

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A Leisurely Tennessee Evening

After another fine meal at the Westgate Resort's Smokehouse Grill, the lovely Robin and I took a quick drive into Pigeon Forge, where we stopped in at "Lid'l Dolly's" quilt and soft goods store (WHY the "D" in "Lid'l?" Why?).

It was a challenge to overcome my spelling standards, but I did it for the lovely Robin. She oohed and aahed at the many quilt patterns, children's clothes, parasols, etc., but we made it out without suffering a financial setback.

Then it was on to Gatlinburg, where we strolled along, enjoyed the shops, bought taffy, coffee, and Kilwin's ice cream cones (after Ben & Jerry's two nights ago). While eating our ice cream, my writer (and Facebook) friend Judy Gyde and her husband happened by, and we had a fun conversation.

So fun.

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The Playground at Westgate Great Smoky Mountains Resort

After a morning of sippin' coffee and enjoying the view from our balcony, eating pancakes with the whole fam, and watching our kids pack for their trip home, we headed to the playground here on the resort.

It was one last hurrah for the grandkids (well, all but five-month-old Ryder; he abstained).

They climbed and slid and hung on everything that could be climbed or slid on or hung from.

Cousins Calleigh and Mia, who are nine months apart in age, seem more like sisters every day (when one got out of bed this week, she instantly asked for the other).

I'm glad they got a little time on this playground, at least. And they probably worked themselves up and wore themselves out enough that they'll sleep a good deal of the ride home this afternoon. Except for Ryder, maybe. He marches to a different beat.

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Ranger Bob's

My rank is an honorary one, bestowed after years as Junior Ranger Bob (spotted in Gatlinburg, TN).

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Bubba Gump's

This evening, the kids, grandkids, Ron, Mariruth, and the lovely Robin and I joined in one of our newer family traditions: dinner at Bubba Gump's in Gatlinburg.

It's an active and stimulating place to eat and celebrate together. And while the music made table conversation a little more difficult, I couldn't argue at all with the music selection: Stevie Ray, Chicago, the Doobies, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed my shrimp-and-Veggie kabobs, and everyone seemed to enjoy theirs, too...but none more than Nina, who got the victory over a pot full of crab legs.

An interesting point in the evening was the rain which came through as we ate and, at one point, could be seen clearly coming down on one side of the restaurant while it was sunny and clear on the other side.

As usual, Bubba Gump's was a fun and satisfying part of our family vacation in what two-year-old Calleigh pronounces as "the Smokety Mountains."

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Another Wild Bear Falls Kind of Day

Today was a day made for the Wild Bear Falls, the water park on the grounds of Westgate Smoky Mountains Resort.

The grandkids wore their parents out doing nearly everything in the place.

Ryder slept most of the time, but Calleigh displayed the stamina of a--well, a two year old!

Everyone loved the lazy river, especially Miles, who eschewed floating for walking and swimming.

Mia did it all, with boundless energy and derring-do.

It is hard to imagine squeezing any more fun into a day!

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The Peddler, Gatlinburg, TN

One of my favorite eateries in the Gatlinburg area is The Peddler Steakhouse on River Road. Tonight the lovely Robin and I hosted the party from our memorable renewal-of-vows experience earlier today.

It is a spacious restaurant right on the banks of the Little Pigeon River, and the windows along one side of the restaurant provide a beautiful view:

The repast is exceptional, including a large, fresh salad bar:

I had prime rib, and Robin ordered the coconut chicken. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal. I know I did. Oh, and here's something interesting: the children's menu offers a half dozen options, priced according to the child's age ($1 for each year of the child's age).

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A Most Memorable Grotto Falls Hike

The lovely Robin and I set out this morning with an indefatigable wedding party (or "re-wedding party, perhaps) of eight precious family members and four precocious preschoolers for the 2.6 mile round trip hike to and from Grotto Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We finally made it to the spot (above), where we all gathered behind the waterfall (this being the only trail in the park that goes behind a waterfall).

There, Glenn pulled out bouquets and corsage he had made before leaving Atlanta. Then, with Rick as my best man and Mariruth as Robin's matron of honor, Aaron and Nina sang Jason Mraz's "Lucky." Aaron had carried the guitar all the way.

Aubrey had prepared a reading but the noise and traffic at the falls convinced her to save it for our "reception" dinner tonight in Gatlinburg. So Robin and I turned to each other and renewed our vows. I had a lot planned to say but was so emotional I was lucky to get out the few words I did. Robin said some nice things to me, too.

The spray and coolness of the falls revitalized us for the 1.3 mile (or so) walk back to the trailhead (and what seemed like a good half-mile walk to the cars from there).

And the kids (all under five years old) did amazingly well, all the way. No whining at all, despite a few spills.

I'm so grateful to everyone for not only coming along but playing along in such good spirits.

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Mama's Farmhouse, Pigeon Forge, TN

We went out tonight for a tremendous meal at Mama's Farmhouse in Pigeon Forge.

It was our first time here, and we were welcomed by Mama herself--or a portrait of her, at least.

It was so great to share the meal with the kids, grandkids, Ron, Mariruth, Rick, and Glenn, who are here for the renewal of my and Robin's vows tomorrow, in anticipation of our thirty-fifth anniversary next week.

The food--chicken, corn, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, turkey and dressing, and more, including dessert--was served family style and all you can eat.

What a great place to eat. And kids under five eat free! We will definitely be back.

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Wild Bear Falls, Westgate Resort

After spending a little time at the pool with Calleigh and Aubrey this morning, they and Ryder and Kevin and made our way to Wild Bear Falls, the water park on the resort here in Gatlinburg.

Ryder doesn't know it, but he's having a blast.

And Calleigh, though taking it a tiny step at a time, is getting her water park on.

The McCane family took a few turns around the lazy river.

I mainly focused on taking pictures around all this water while death-gripping my iPhone.

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Smokehouse Grill, Gatlinburg, TN

Wow, what a wonderful dinner we had tonight in Gatlinburg. Weary after a day of travel and getting settled, we opted to stay on the resort for dinner at Smokehouse Grill at Westgate Great Smoky Mountain Resort. I'm so glad we did.

My Asian something-or-other salad was fantastic. I had asked for a different dressing on the side but it was brought to my table with the spicy Thai dressing mentioned on the menu, and it was just wonderful. The lovely Robin and Aubrey each ordered a salad, and they both loved theirs, too.

Kevin ordered a chicken margarita burger with a balsamic glaze, and fries. He said his was very good, too.

Only Kevin could finish his meal; the rest of us brought home a hefty leftover, giving us something to look forward to for lunch tomorrow.

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Home Sweet Westgate

First day of our family vacation in Gatlinburg at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort. We love it here.

We arrived before 5, checked in, we're escorted to our two-bedroom unit, and have already managed to trash the place--and the Nina/Aaron/Miles/Mia fun train doesn't even arrive until tomorrow evening!

But we are happy to be here and are heading to dinner on the resort.

The baby on the bed above was not included in the price. Actually, it's our annual week, so it's already paid for.

The layout is a new one for us, and not a favorite of mine, since the bedrooms open onto the deck, whereas I like when the living room does. But otherwise you can't ask for more or better.

The swimming pool on this cul de sac is practically right outside our door. But we will probably spend much more time at the water park here on the resort.

Who knows, we might even leave the resort to do something in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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