At Pine Mountain RV Park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee...
First, let me thank all of you who responded with such kind remarks about our experience with the burglary. I sincerely hope this kind of thing remains a rarity for everyone, and it is encouraging to have heard from so many of you.
We think we discovered how the thief or thieves gained access to Phannie. The entry door has two keyed locks--a deadbolt and a door handle lock. Because our experience with RV-related crime was nonexistent, we typically locked only the deadbolt and not the handle lock when leaving our rig. While I don't want to get into the details, we discovered that such an omission leaves the security of the door quite vulnerable to tampering because of the design of the deadbolt. This is almost certainly how they got in. You can bet that we will engage both locks from now on.
It has been an intense couple of days acquiring a new computer (a Dell All-In-One this time) and frantically changing access to sensitive information that might be compromised. It has not been easy emotionally either, especially for Sandy, who lost some pieces of jewelry that were not of great value but about which she was terribly sentimental.
We've worked our way pretty well through the shock, anger, sorrow and helplessness that comes with this sort of thing and have strengthened our resolve just to let it go. They didn't take our memories, and we can get new stuff; besides, if we let it ruin our trip, then the bad guys win. We can't have that!
Our friend Ed (The Happy Wanderers) wrote a post a few days ago about our experience. He reminded his readers that the vast majority of folks in the RV community are honest and caring and look out for each other. Sometimes, however, we do need to be reminded not to get too complacent. For nine years now, almost every RVer we've encountered would do anything they could for their fellow travelers. Perhaps though, considering the ever-increasing coarsening of our society (which I think began a rapid increase in 1963 when God was banned from school), we should be a bit more vigilant. In our case, we were in a very upscale park with RVs all around us, and our outside lights were on. Yet no one seems to have noticed anything, even though it happened fairly early in the evening.
The only things left yet to do are to file an insurance claim and get the broken window fixed. We will be stopping in Red Bay on our way back to Texas to see if Tiffin can take care of that for us.
There; that's the last I'm going to post about the burglary. I am, however, considering a security system of sorts for Phannie, and I may post about that if I make a purchase that I'm considering.
We had a great time at the National Quartet Convention here in Pigeon Forge. We were among a crowd of 12,000 folks who really seemed to enjoy it, too. If you like southern gospel quartet singing, this was the place to be. We didn't know how much it would mean to us to be among those thousands of other Christians here who received comfort and blessings from the most joyful message that can be delivered in song. It sure helped deliver us from our funk.
Sandy did a lot of shopping for our grandsons while we were here. There were plenty of opportunities, of course; there are outlet stores galore, along with the biggest Christmas store in the south. We drove out to nearby Chestnut Hill one afternoon to the Bush's Bean canning complex. (Isn't it precious what retirees will find to do to pass the time?) This was actually quite enjoyable, a feelgood experience that definitely made us want to buy Bush's beans, which, of course, was their aim, I guess. I had some better photos than this, but they were in the computer that was stolen and--naturally--not backed up; (that's another thing that's about to change.)
Our trip to the Smoky Mountains has been a totally pleasant surprise for us; we had no idea how much we would like this area, but we can tell you that we will be back next fall. We were here a bit too early to enjoy the changing leaf colors this time, but the woods are getting prettier every day, and we can just imagine what it will be like in a few weeks.
Here are a few photos to give you an idea of the essence of the Smoky Mountain scenery we've been enjoying:
Because we've been offline for a few days, I'm going to give you only a thumbnail review of the restaurants we've patronized and the shows we've seen (Pigeon Forge has several Branson-like theaters):
Old Mill Restaurant. This huge place is swamped all the time, and we're not sure why. Quaint old building with lots of history; home cooking that is pretty good but not worth writing home about.
J. T. Hanna's Kitchen. Sort of a hillbilly Cheddars. Place is always packed, but like the Old Mill above, I'm not sure why; maybe it's the bar.
Old Mill Pottery House Café and Grill. Worth a trip; good food, reasonable prices and a pretty setting.
Log Cabin Pancake House. Good ratings in Yelp, but we weren't impressed. Southern cooking and pancakes that are serviceable. There are no fewer than 15 pancake houses in Pigeon Forge; there must be better ones that this, but we just couldn't indulge that much sweetness at all 15 locations. Besides, I don't think any can match Sandy's multi-generation pancake recipe; it's just not possible. Good luck with your own research.
Captain Jim's Seafood Buffet. We went inside with the intention of eating there, but after noticing the strong fishy smell inside, we decided against it.
Tony Gore's BBQ. This place in Sevierville was pretty good, but we've had better; this isn't Texas, of course. Can't expect too much.
Bones BBQ in Gatlinburg. Awful. Stay away...far away.
Alamo Steak House in Gatlinburg. Pretty decent steak, but there was a bit of an odd flavor that may have been from whatever wood source that was firing the grill. Texas Roadhouse is better, if you can put up with the noise.
The Thai Palace in Sevierville. Not bad Thai food, but the next one below is much better.
Thai Basil. This place, also in Sevierville, was excellent. Our favorite restaurant in the area. Highly recommended.
Now, that's just the restaurants we tried; there are many, many more to choose from, and we're sure we missed some good ones.
We also saw the following shows:
Smoky Mountain Opry. A very entertaining variety show with all kinds of music and acts. Worth the price of the ticket.
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Theater. Food was just okay, and the show was just a bit too corny for me. Thumbs down on this one.
Blackwood Singers. If you like southern gospel music, you'll like this. It was a (gasp) early show, but I'm glad we went.
Comedy Barn. This was hyped as the funniest show in Pigeon Forge, and it was! They exploited a number of audience members with the intention of making fools of them, and they didn't disappoint. Hilarious.
On to Asheville; ta-ta for now.