If I was a POSER, I would skip the part of Saturday where we came down from the mountain and went to our hotel in Gatlinburg and the sight of it from the parking lot alone made me throw a fit because IT LOOKED SKETCHY so I cried about how the whole weekend was awful and I just wanted to go home and Henry was like NO and I was like YES and Chooch was like *here we go* and then Henry called my bluff and said FINE and started to “drive home” and we made it as far as Pigeon Forge, past the signs for Dollywood, when I screamed, “PULL OVER, I AM GOING TO FIND MY OWN HOTEL” and Henry was like “OK YOU DO THAT” and Chooch was like *this is gonna be good* and I “found a hotel” in Pigeon Forge and Henry was like, “OK LET’S GO CHECK MOM INTO HER HOTEL” and I was like “OK but before I confirm my reservation, can we please eat lunch.”
And that’s how we ended up at Mellow Mushroom, which is tradition (4x makes it so), and then we all had a big laugh over The Fight while shoveling delicious pizza into our mouths.
And then Chooch told me my smile is just as fake as my voice.
I ALWAYS GET THIS ONE, it’s their mushroom pie and it is delectable. The waiter (super friendly chap in a cowboy hat who Henry originally thought was faking his southern twang but I don’t think so) agreed that it’s the best one.
Pretty uneventful (BUT FILLING AND DELICIOSO) lunch, which was actually welcome considering the stressful morning and high-octane temper tantrum of mine. It was nice to just sit in a booth and speak gently to each other. (Gently? Eh, we were still probably being assholes to each other but probably with more good humor and less vitriol.)
Look, so happy and fed! Hanger squashed. Real smiles! People walking by were laughing because we were laughing and this actually happened another time too, according to Henry. “That lady was laughing because she saw you laughing,” he said, slightly concerned.
After lunch, we went to the Old Mill …. something. Somehow, after two trips to this area, we had never known about this! I just happened to see it from the window when I was still sulking on the way to lunch, after the HOTEL HULLABALOO.
Look how beautiful! Once we crossed the bridge, I immediately recognized a bunch of spots from the In The Loop travel vlogs from Pigeon Forge. Legend and Molly are huge Pigeonheads (that sounded good at the time) so it all started to come back to me.
We checked out a soap shop and instead of getting local soap, Chooch got a mass-produced brand name (Duke Cannon) bar of Pumpkin Spice Latte soap. I mean, you do you, Chooch, I guess.
Metal-working. Other people were taking pictures so I felt like I should too, but then I realized they were taking pictures of their family members who were metal-working with the professionals.
Next, I bought some local jams for Xmas gifts at one of the Old Mill shops. Surprisingly, this area wasn’t too outrageous people-wise for a Saturday afternoon, so we had a pretty pleasant time
We stopped in this alleged cat house but there were only THREE CATS TO BE FOUND. And then just a bunch of cat art and people clothes with cats on them. It was disappointing except for the actual cats we got to see.
Some cafe was next door. I had a pretty good apple cider chai.
By now, I was fed *and* caffeinated so I was feeling even better about life.
This picture actually became very useful a few nights later when we were back home in Pittsburgh and I lurched forward on this couch. “WAIT, WHERE ARE MY JAMS?” I exclaimed.
“……………..um,” Henry stammered.
I ran out to the car to check, we checked our luggage, but NO JAM. NO FUCKING JAM!! I started to think it was my fault. I vaguely remembered setting the bag down when Chooch and I were sitting in those adirondack chairs in the cafe.
But then I was going through my pictures and cried out, “A HA!!!! YOU WERE CARRYING THE BAG AFTER THE CAFE!” So we had to have lost it somewhere between that bridge and our car. There were THREE more shops we went to before leaving: a nut place, a candy place, and a gaming place.
But as soon as I showed Henry this picture, he said, “I set it down in that planter behind Chooch when I took your picture.
I was already mad at him because he took the stupid picture from the wrong angle (the mill was to the left!!!) so this dumb picture ended up costing me $20 in lost goods.
I know, it’s not A LOT of money, but it’s not….NOT a lot. And it sucks, especially because I bought the jam with the intention of tucking them in gift bags for some friends.
AT LEAST HENRY MADE SURE HIS CANDY SAFELY MADE IT BACK TO PITTSBURGH.
And Chooch’s stupid soap! I should have made him carry my jam too!
Anyway, I can’t remember the name of this game store but the guys working there were FANTASTIC. They treated Chooch like a prince and when he asked for suggestions, one of the was like “WALK WITH ME, M’LAD.” I mean, not in so many words. But yeah, I would recommend this place if you’re in the area and looking for a game to play on a rainy night in your hotel, or whatever!
Oh, and the nut place we went to was full of MAGA shit so I did NOT buy a magnet even though their logo was a bad ass squirrel.
Back to the jam! Henry emailed the jam place on a whim to see if anyone turned in the bag.
“No one would have done that!” I scoffed, because my faith in humanity is at an all-time low. I mean, that’s 100% something I would have done – and been super panicked about it too. “WE HAVE TO GET THIS JAM BACK IN THE RIGHT HANDS!” as I’m darting all around Pigeon Forge like Dolly Parton looking for her car in the lot after working 9to5. (Look, that and Steel Magnolias is pretty much as far as my Dolly knowledge goes, but I am sure thankful that she has a theme park!)
“You never know, being the south and all,” Henry reasoned. “It’s worth a shot.”
WOULD YOU BELIEVE that the jam store emailed him and said that they weren’t aware of any misplaced jams being returned, but they would check with the managers of the other stores in the square AND ONE OF THE STORES CAME BACK AND SAID THAT YES, SOMEONE HAD BROUGHT IT TO THEM!
Ugh I’m so pissed that I didn’t realize it was missing while we were still there. BUT they were kind enough to issue me a refund (they also offered the option of shipping it to me but I didn’t feel like dealing with that). Whoever returned this is a true hero.
I mean OK it wasn’t like it was my WEDDING BAND (you can’t lose something you don’t have, lol) or my prosthetic thumb, but it was still a small weight off my shoulders. I don’t have enough money for “It’s only money” to apply to me.
I did not thank Henry for getting me a refund because this was all his fault in the first place, so…
Anyway, after we left the gaming place, it was time to go back to Gatlinburg and check in.
“Don’t we have to drop Mum off at her hotel first?” Chooch deadpanned from the backseat.