Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Post About "Nothing" ?

Hey everyone. I know I need to write a post but I really don't have much to share this week. 

I don't know how Jerry Seinfeld and his staff and cast spent 9 seasons on "Seinfeld" writing and performing shows about "nothing". 

It's easy to handle nothing when you're a kid. How many times does a parent ask a kid, "what did you do in school today?" and they answer "Nothing" and that's the end of it. 

Some people can deal with nothing and some people can't. I'm pretty sure I fall on the side of the latter. 

My wife has been saying for years that at times she wishes she could get me to just sit back and do nothing. Like when we are on vacation, sitting on the beach, or at home watching TV. I just can't seem to deal with doing "Nothing". 

Having "Nothing" to write about is the task ahead of me, if I'm going to publish this post (and if you are reading this I have). 

My wife was home all week dealing with a health issue that took a while to get a handle on. So I spent most of the week taking care of her.  

She's improving and on her way to recovering. Now it's just a matter of regaining her strength and catching up on the sleep she missed during the nights she didn't feel well.

When one is in a situation where there is really nothing to discuss it is conventional to go to two sources: the weather or sports. I have no idea what the temperature is or what the forecast in your area of the country may be comes the sports.  

First up is the baseball playoffs. The Yankees made an amazing comeback against the #1 seed in the American League, the Cleveland Indians. 

As far as I'm concerned they are now playing with "house money". They weren't expected to get this far. So they've already proven themselves. 

Of course I will be disappointed if they don't win the World Series but I will also be satisfied with how they've over achieved this year as well. 

The 2017-18 NHL season has only just started but the Nashville Predators have already played one of the most exciting hockey games I've ever seen. Last Tuesday their home opener was against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

Late in the 3rd period they trailed 5-3. With 1:17 left in the game, they got a pair of 5 on 3 power plays. They scored 2 goals in 41 seconds and won.  
It promises to be another exciting season for the Nashville hockey team; their 20th. 

I'm about to start building an Lego Expert modular building, The Plaza Theater. 
I've had this set since December 2015 and am only getting around to it just now. 

It's by far the largest set, in regard to number of pieces, 2169, that I've ever put together. I will share pictures of my progress and the finished result as I complete it. 

In my September 29th post I wrote about going to grandparent's day at my granddaughter's school. It was a unique experience seeing her there for the first time. 

This past week I saw her again in the school setting in a couple of ways. 

First, I saw her first school picture. This isn't the best copy but its the one I got. 
Then this past Thursday, I saw her in a picture on the Facebook page of a local TV station. Their weatherman posted a picture where he had visited Aria's class to teach them about preparing for the weather. Can you find Aria? 

This weekend my wife and I got to do our favorite thing...
This little guy and his big sister spent some time with us at our house. 

He enjoyed playing with the magnets on our refrigerator just like Aria did when she was his age. 
Aria played with her new toy, a character from My Little Pony (her favorite cartoon) made as a Rubick's Cube type puzzle.
We got her a Happy Meal from McDonald's for her supper (her request not our idea) which came with a My Little Pony toy. It allowed her to become her favorite character, Rainbow Dash. 

And of course her Papa had to try it on too. 

The most fun we had was when we were together in my office playing instruments and enjoying the music. 
In the middle of each of these moments I took some time to mentally take a step back and appreciate the moments for, not only what they were, but what great memories they will be as they grow up. 

Today, the month is half over. But there is still a lot to happen in October. 

This coming weekend my grandson is going to turn a year old. Some of my family who live in Pennsylvania are traveling down to help us celebrate. 

I am going to be attending a seminar, in Nashville, that will help me get started doing something I've been wanting to for a couple of years now. 

Then of course there's all the events and happenings surrounding and on Halloween. 

As I go back and read over what I've written in this post I realized something. This post isn't about "nothing"; it's about my life. Something I've always written about since I started this blog 9 years ago. 

Since life is truly the ultimate blessing from our Creator it is far from "nothing". In fact it's just the opposite, it's everything. So I have added a question mark to the title of this post. 

That's all for now. I've got to go find more things to write about. But I guess that's life, huh? 



Monday, October 9, 2017

Ordinary October...So Far

It's been about a week since my last post. So far things in October have been rather ordinary at least for me. You might say that it's been an "Ob-La-De Ob-La-Da" 8 days for me because, to put it simply, life goes on.

Here's what I've been up to, lately.   

On the last day of September my wife and I took our granddaughter to "Smiths Grove Days" here in town. Of course she wanted to get her face painted. 

Later in the day we all took a walk to the end of our street so that she could feed the neighbor's horses. 
She spent the night with us and most of the next day before her mom picked her up. Those type of visits are memory builders for all of us. 

On the following Friday, the 6th, instead of going to the Nashville zoo with them, as planned, I got to spend time with Aria and Gabriel in their playroom at their house. We had a good time playing together.   

Monday, October 2, was anything but ordinary. That morning I woke up to the horrible news of the shootings in Las Vegas. 

As the details were coming in, it got worse and worse. Over 600 people hit, 58 dead. Hundreds of Iives have been changed forever. 

The stories of heroics and self-sacrifices from that horrible night are what proves that the human spirit will always ultimately triumph over unthinkable evil. 

I'm just the writer of a simple blog I'm not a real political man. However I do have my own humble opinions in regard to all of the things surrounding this tragedy. 

The one thing I will say is that what we've been told about the man responsible just doesn't match up with his actions. Something just doesn't add up. The scale and level of this attack simply cannot be the work of just one man. 

Even if he was the only one to bring the arsenal of guns into the hotel room and open fire on those 22,000 innocent people; those who assisted him in any way, shape, or form are culpable as well.  

When it comes to buying into conspiracy theories (on a scale of 1-10) I'm about a 5. But for me, based on some of the reports I've seen online there's more to this attack than we are being told. We probably will never know the whole truth. That's all I have to say about that. 

The rest of the week was spent mostly at home taking care of things around the house. 

My son, James, celebrated his 29th birthday on the 5th. Because I try my best to make sure my family members have cake or some kind of their favorite baked goods on their birthday, I made a pan of the brownies he likes, just for him. I took them over to his house the afternoon of the 4th.  

Also in October I find myself back into the habit of working on my Lego kits again. 

Here are the 3 models I assembled last week...

 A representative of The New York City Skyline (Lego Architecture #21028) ...
 ...a miniature Double Decker Bus              (Lego Creator # 40220)...
...two versions of the Toy & Grocery Store (Lego Creator 31036).
I also changed my Lego Calendar display to an October theme. 

The "Doberman Gang" dvd set I mentioned in my last post arrived during the week. I watched both movies. Even though the movie was much worse than I remembered (the dogs are better actors than the humans) I still liked the idea of the film and love the theme song. I learned that it was the first film scored by Academy Award winning composer, Alan Silvestri.  

The second movie, The Daring Dobermans, which was released a year after the first one, is basically a repeat of the same story. 

The only thing I found the least bit interesting about it was that a 23 year old Tim Considine was one of the main co-stars. 

Some of you older folks may remember Considine as a child star for Walt Disney productions. He played in the Mickey Mouse Club serial, The Adventures of Spin & Marty, as well as the film, The Shaggy Dog. 

As a teenager he played, Mike, the oldest of the Douglas boys in the 60s sit-com, My Three Sons.   

This past weekend was a quiet one for us here at the Havens homestead. We caught up on the new seasons of our favorite shows: Scorpion, NCIS, Law & Order: SVU, Criminal MInds, Designated Survivor, Gotham, and This Is Us. We also finished the first season of the Netflix series, "The Crown."  

In addition we watched 2 movies that we missed in the theaters: "Money Monster" from 2016 and "Prisoners" from 2013. If you want to find out about them you can look them up on IMDB. They were entertaining but I'm glad we didn't spend money going to the theater to see them. 

Finally, I have to mention that this week the New York Yankees started their 2017 playoff run. Now I know this may not seem like a big deal but it is to me. I live or die with the Bronx Bombers in the playoffs. They win, I am euphoric. They lose I get depressed. During the games I get stressed and frustrated. I can't help it I'm a life long fan. 

I first felt the sting of disappointment as a Yankees fan at the age of 15 when during the last week of the 1975 season they were eliminated from making the playoffs. 

The next year I experienced the joy of victory as Chris Chambliss hit a history making pennant winning walk off home run off Mark Littell of Kansas City Royals. It sent the Yankees to the World Series for the first time in 10 years.  

Even a disappointing 4 game sweep in the Fall Classic by the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati couldn't dim the feeling of success I experienced as a Yankees fan that season. 

Now it's more than 50 years later and I'm just as, if not more, emotionally tied to the Yankees when they are in the playoffs. I don't expect them to make it to the World Series but I hope they do win at least one series and make a decent showing in the ALCS. Only time will tell. 

As I write this post they are facing elimination in their American League Division Series with the Cleveland Indians. I don't know what's going to happen but whatever does I will be there to see and feel it. 

Before I end this post I just want to welcome those of you who are reading my blog for the first time. I have become aware that I am getting a little higher rate of page views on a daily basis. This means more new readers are coming aboard. I appreciate those of you who have shared this blog with others. I'll try my best to keep on posting so you'll keep coming back. 


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Trivia Quiz Wrap Up & More

It's time to wrap up my "Another 5,000 Views Post Quiz Contest". I would like to thank all of those who went back and checked out the past posts that were part of this quiz. 

Before I announce the winner, let's review the questions and give you the answers. 

Question 1: Where in Chicago did I unexpectedly find a Realistic brand cassette tape recorder?
Answer: As I shared in my September 12, 2012 post, I saw one in a display in the American Girl doll store. 

Question 2. While in Chicago, Paula and I went to see the Yankees play the White Sox. What Yankee had 4 hits in that game including a home run?

Answer: Since this is question 2 the answer is #2, future hall of famer, "The Captain", Derek Jeter. 
In my September 4, 2012 post I recapped the game we saw at US. Cellular Field including Jeter's 4 for 4 night which was just a triple short of the cycle. 

Question 3.This is a two-part question. 
What is the name of the fountain I saw in Grant Park while visiting Chicago and on what 1990s TV show was the fountain seen as part of the program's opening?   

Answer: Buckingham Fountain is located in Grant Park in the Windy City. 
And it appears in the opening 5 seconds of the 1990s Fox sit-com: Married With Children. 

Question 4.In September 2012 I got a new job. In what town was my new job located? 

Answer: In my September 25, 2012 post I wrote that my 3 month search for a new job was over. I would be working in the town of Glasgow, KY.  

Question 5.Whose story did I share in my last post of 2012?

Answer: I put up my last post for the year 2012 on October 14 (I can't remember why it was my last but it was). I told the astounding story of something that happened to a family who went to my church. I gave them the pseudonyms: Paul, Tina, and Suzie Whitaker. 

As I reread the post while preparing my quiz, I was once again touched by the remarkable way that God took care of Paul through their whole ordeal. If you haven't already, highly recommend that you go back and reread this post. 

So there you have the answers to my past post quiz.   

I have chosen a winner and notified him by email. He has asked to remain anonymous and I will respect his request for privacy. But I can use his initials. So congratulations to A.J. from Florida. I'm sure you'll enjoy the music purchased with the $15 I-Tunes card.  

And now for the "& More" part of this post. I want to show you my latest in Lego. 

Just last night I finished assembling one of the coolest Lego kits I own. It's from the Lego Architecture product line. It is part of the series of Lego interpretations of the skylines of major cities around the world. This one is the New York City skyline. 
 Represented in this model are the NYC landmarks: (left to right) The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, and One World Trade Center. 

I have a larger model of both the Flatiron and Empire State buildings. As I put this set together I couldn't help but wonder if there will ever be a Lego Architecture set of the original World Trade Center towers. I would love to have one as a memorial to all they represent. But I doubt that will ever happen. 

Again, thanks to everyone who took part in my 5000K quiz. Keep reading the blog I'm sure there will be another give away soon. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

September Wrap Up

Welcome to the last blog post for the month of September 2017. 

Before I get into it, I want to remind everyone that you still have time to enter my "55K Views" trivia quiz contest where I will be giving away a $15 I-Tunes card. Check out this blog post for the info on how to enter. 
Another 5000 Views Post Quiz Contest.

Entries must be received in my email box by midnight CDT Saturday September 30.  

The month of September has been a memorable one. After some problems getting it synchronized with the I-Tunes library on my desktop computer, I started enjoying my new I-Pad Mini 4. 

The highlight of the month, of course, was spending my birthday in the Smoky Mountains with my wife, son and daughter-in-law.  

I've enjoyed watching the New York Yankees return to the level of play that allowed them to get in the playoffs for the first time in a couple of years. Aaron Judge has been a lot of fun to watch. 

I have not been up to much of anything this week for a couple of reasons. 

Last  Friday, my wife and I got our flu shots at Sam's Club thanks to vouchers from Fruit Of The Loom. 

Every year after we get them within a few days we develop some degree of cold like symptoms. 

On Monday night I mentioned this to my wife that I was surprised that had not had any of the after effects of the flu shot. 

Well, as Paula always says, I should never challenged "worse". In a strangely quick turn of events, by the time I went to bed that night I started feeling badly. 

Since then, I have had just enough cold like symptoms to be rather uncomfortable at night and in the mornings. 

I have a little bit of a cough and a lot of stuffiness. Eventually it clears up, for the most part, in the afternoon until early evening. But then it comes back again. If it gets any worse or continues over the weekend; I'm going to have to go see my doctor.  

My evenings this week, except for Wednesday, have been spent at local athletic fields watching my granddaughter play softball in her fall league. 

Having 4 games in a week is a bit overwhelming in regard to planning your day so you can get to the field on time; and its just me and Paula. 

I can't imagine what my son and daughter-in-law who have 2 kids in tow and work during the day have to do to get there by 6 o'clock. 

But on the plus side I did get to see my grandchildren 4 times this week. That's always a win. 

One of the benefits from going to see so many this week, was that being at one of them helped me find something that I've been looking for a long time. Let me explain. 

At Tuesday night's game a woman, who came to watch, had her doberman puppy with her. The puppy was very cute and very sweet. 

I mentioned to the woman and her husband that when I was a teenager I wanted a doberman because of a movie called "The Doberman Gang". 

I watched it every time it came on TV when I was in high school. Despite it being barely qualifying as a "B" movie, I loved it. I would really like to have a copy to watch every once in a while.    

I lamented, out loud, that after looking for it over the last couple of years on the internet; the only copy I could find was an expensive VHS tape on Ebay. 

Brittany, a friend of my daughter-in-law, made an off hand suggestion, "You should try Amazon. They have everything." I told her that I had looked on Amazon but it wasn't available. 

Then I realized that I actually hadn't checked the website for a while. So I got out my phone, went onto To make a long story short, this is what I got in the mail today. 
I am very excited to finally have these films on DVD and in my library. I will watch them this weekend. I've only seen the sequel a couple of times. But I will enjoy that one too.

Thanks Brittany for making the suggestion that I check online again. 

Also on my weekend movie list is the 2010 Oscar winner for best picture.
 The reason this is on my list is refresh us on some of the backstory of the Netflix series "The Crown" which Paula and I are currently watching. The movie is a prequel to the series. 

I saw the film in the theater shortly after it won 4 statues at the Academy Awards in 2011. I borrowed a copy from the library so that my wife could get a better insight on the people in the Netflix series. 

The Wonder Woman movie and several Steve Martin films (a birthday present from my friends Mark & Patty) on home video are also on the "watch list" for us this weekend as well. In addition, we have several TV shows that began their new season this week on our DVR.   

As the month of September comes to an end I have to admit I haven't exactly been a "Master Builder" when it comes to assembling Lego sets. 

I did complete the Ninjago Movie mini-figure set that I started collecting back in the middle of August. 

I also went to see the Lego Ninjago Movie last Friday. 
I liked it but it wasn't as good as the first one but better than the Lego Batman movie. The plot was a little heavy on the "absentee father" aspect of the story. 

I really wanted to enjoy this movie a little more than I did. It had potential but just didn't go far enough to drawl me in. Aspects of it just seemed like a copy of the first Lego movie. If there's one thing I can't forgive in a film is the lack of originality. However, there was one thing that I really liked about the movie. More on that in a bit. 

In the middle of the month I finished assembling the Creator set 31036, The Toy and Grocery Shop.  Here's the link to a video I made that's on my You Tube channel. 
 Lego Creator Toy & Grocery Shop

This past week I added to my Lego collection with 2 sets that I am really excited about. 

The first is from the Ninjago Movie sets. It's the Mech that the main character, Lloyd, wears when he becomes the Green Ninja. 

I also added a set that supplements the Lego Christmas Train that I added to our Christmas decorations last year. It's a train station. 
I can't wait until November when my family comes over and helps me put this set together. Hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. 

Finally I want to share something I put on my Facebook timeline last weekend. 

My wife and I installed some shelves in the closet in our new bedroom. My wife designed the shelves and bought all the materials.  

Last Saturday, we worked together to put up 5 new shelves; 4 on one side and 1 on the other. Here's a picture of one side. 
Now I am not a DYI kind of guy so I am proud of the completion of this project. It is one more step toward getting into our new bigger bedroom.  

The most memorable day of the month for me was the day that my wife and I went to Aria's school to have lunch with her on Grand-parent's day. 
 Seeing our little girl in a situation where she was behaving in such a "grown up" way was, for me, on a similar emotional level as when I saw her in Walt Disney World last year. But just like that vacation, the experience has given me a memory I will always treasure. 

So there you have a brief summary of some of the things that have happened in September and what's going on with me now. 

As October comes around it's going to be yet another busy month. I look forward to sharing it all with you. Thanks for reading the RHFactors blog. Come back next time when I announce the winner of my trivia quiz contest.  


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Smokies In September: Part 2

Welcome back to the RHFactors blog. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read this post. 

This is the 2nd part of my series sharing with you some of the new experiences I had while on my birthday getaway to Pigeon Forge, TN earlier in September. 

As I mentioned in part 1, on my actual birthday, the 9th, Paula and I decided to go to the newest dinner show in the area. 
The theater is located in front of The Island along the 441 Parkway.

The show is in the building that used to house the Lumberjack Feud show. 
Dolly purchased the show in 2015. Her management company, World Choice Investments, made some changes to the outside of the theater for the 2016 season, it became this:
But in May of this year the set inside set the theater was redone and the show was change to something new. There are still elements of the old Lumberjack Feud used in it but, for the most part, it is a brand new show.  

We have had very positive experiences when it comes to Dolly Parton's shows in the past. We have been to the Dixie Stampede, twice, in 2001 & 2005.

Last December, we spent a couple of days in Dollywood enjoying the shows their Christmas celebration had to offer. You can read about those shows in my December 28, 2016 blog post:
 Anniversary In The Smokies Part 2

When it came time to choose what to do on my birthday, I decided that the new Dolly Parton show would be fun. 

On the night of the show we parked in the parking lot off Tester Lane and took the tram to the front of The Island area. 

We walked over the bridge and down to the show building. Along the way, I took this picture of The Wheel and Paula Deen's restaurant from the bridge. 
It was a little bit of a walk. We didn't realize that there was a separate parking lot, that's a lot closer, right in front of the building. 

Once we picked up our tickets at the box office we went inside where we met a photographer. She set us up and took our picture. 
I'll explain why we are holding the name sign in a bit. 

Once inside the theater we were in the pre-show waiting area. There was a concession stand in the center of the room. You could get something to drink including specialty adult beverages and soft drinks. There were snacks available too. 

The area was themed as a country general store similar to what you'd see at The Cracker Barrel. There were classic games such as checkers, tick tac toe and corn hole available for kids and families to play while waiting to be seated. 

There were benches for people to sit on as they waited. Here are a couple of pictures that I took. They don't really show the lobby very well but you'll get an idea. 

The monitors you see ran a pre-show program that featured fun facts about Dolly Parton and her family history. 

In fact the entire theater was themed to reflect Dolly's back woods Smoky Mountains background. Here's a link to the video I shot while waiting to go in to the main hall. Smoky Mountain Adventures Theater Lobby Tour 

At about 5:45 we were let into the showroom. It's a large set with a lot to see. There was a lot more than initially meets the eye. 

We were seated on the left side of the theater. That made us part of the Parton Family for the evening. 

The premise of the show is that there's a backwoods competition between the Owens and Partons; Dolly's mother and father's last names, respectively. The audience is divided into honorary members of those families for the evening. 

Once we were seated I shot a couple of videos. They both show some of the same things. Together they give you a good picture of what the theater looked like. Here are links to both of them.  

Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner Show-Part 2

Here's a selfie I took while we were waiting for the show and dinner to get started. 
It had been a few hours since we had eaten anything so we were hungry. 

The meal was served in courses as the show was going on. Much the same as it is at the Dixie Stampede. 

There was creamy vegetable soup, a biscuit, fried chicken breast, smoked pulled pork, corn on the cob, half of a baked potato and a very good flaky peach pie turnover for desert. 
I liked everything except the pulled pork. The chicken was especially good. 

There was a very disturbing moment during the meal. An older woman on oxygen sitting with a group in front of us started choking. 

The man next to her tried to help her by giving her the Heimlich maneuver; but she continued to gasp for air. 

Our waitress was made aware of what was happening and she went and got the EMT on duty. He came quickly and did the Heimlich as well. It didn't help. He did it a second time and she began breathing. 

It was very disturbing. I felt helpless sitting there watching. I can imagine how the row of family members she was with were feeling. 

The woman recovered and went back to watching the show. But she got up and left before it was over. 

Here's a little bit about the show itself. First here's what the set looked like. 
The show's story is wrapped around the romance between Dolly's parents before they were married. 

The main subplot is the competition between the two "families", that I mentioned earlier. The acts are all a combination of skill, acrobatic stunts, and dances. There is a very strong circus vibe to it. There are also a pair of dogs who participate in the competition. 

The master of ceremonies is a character known as "Apple Jack". He keeps things going and gets the crowd involved. 
The comedy in the show is delivered through a character named "Joshua" who is an inventor. He figures strongly in the show's conclusion. 

Without giving you any spoilers, the actual end of the show is a fitting salute to Dolly and her family. 

I was kind of surprised a couple of things that are not in the show; because they are a common thread in almost every Smoky Mountain show. 

There was no acknowledgement of military veterans or, what I call, a "patriotic moment." I don't know why but there wasn't.   

Let me conclude this review with a compilation of video highlights of the show that I shot. Here's the link to it on my You Tube channel. 
Smoky Mountains Adventure Highlights  
Blogger's Note: The camera work in this compilation is not the best. For that I apologize. Also, this is the first time I've ever made a video like this using the Movie Maker app. My editing skills are still a work in progress. 

So there you have a review of what is now one my favorite things to do in Pigeon Forge, TN. 

This concludes my short series about my September 2017 birthday trip to the Smoky Mountains. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about it. If you have never been there I hope the recollections of our experiences inspire you to go. If you have been there I hope I gave you some help in deciding what you do on your next trip.   

That's all for now. Thanks for reading this post I'll see you next time. God Bless. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Smokies In September: Part 1

Welcome back to the RHFactors blog. This is post 64 of 2017 and 931 over all. 

Just a reminder that you still have a until next Saturday, September 30, to find the answers to my 55K quiz (see my last post) and enter to win a $15 I-Tunes card. Hurry the deadline is coming up soon. I want to give you free music. 

Now onto today's post.   

It's been a couple of weeks since I celebrated my birthday with a weekend getaway to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with my wife. But I'm just now getting around to sharing my experience. 

Now, we have made plenty of trips to that area. Love to vacation there. The last time was in December of last year. You can review that trip in my blog archives.  

For this trip we did a lot of our favorite things but we also did some new things. I am going to share some of both. 

We stayed at our favorite condo resort, Whispering Pines. It's on Ogle Avenue, and sits on a hill above Pigeon Forge's main parkway. It has a beautiful view. 

We stayed in a two bedroom ADA accessible condo for the first time. It was #413 and by far least impressive condo we've stayed in. It's pretty worn and needs a lots of refurbishing and better furniture. If you are ever staying there I'd recommend avoiding this one. 

We still like the comfort and convenience of this resort as well as the attraction discounts they offer; so we'll stay there again, no doubt. 

One of the reasons we stay there is the views, not just the looking down but the one looking up too. Here's a picture of the moon I took the first night we were there.

On the morning of my birthday, September 9th, before we left the condo complex, I made a video. I posted it to You Tube. Here's the link: My Birthday In The Smokies

As I mentioned in the video there was a "Rod Rally" going on while we were there. It effected the way we got around while there. It's hard to explain what this was like; but I'll try. 

People bring their hot rods or classic cars and trucks to Pigeon Forge for the weekend. They parked along the main parkway wherever there was a spot that faces the road. Their cars are on display for all to enjoy. Here's a couple of pictures showing what it looked like as we drove up and down Rt. 441 throughout our stay. 

This influx of both man and machine limited the available parking in front of just about every restaurant, attraction or shopping area in half. 

Several times during our visit, at night, we had to park in the "auxiliary" parking area and walk to the front of where we wanted to go. BTW it wasn't a matter of walking it was the insecurity of parking in the dark dimly lit lots. 

Also, the car owners "parade" their vehicles up and down the parkway so other owners can side on the side of the road and watch them go by. This is done mostly in the right lane. While there are still 2 lanes open, if you have to turn into or out of that right lane you are forced to go with the slow flow.     

On my birthday, we went shopping along the Arts & Crafts loop in Gatlinburg. To get to it you make a left onto Rt. 321. Head up the hill and drive 3 miles or so until you get to Glades Road. Turn left at the Subway and you're on the loop.There are stand alone shops, wedding chapels and, what I call, mini-malls along this road.  
We stopped at this one and ate some lunch at a place we'd been to before. But now had a different name and was under new management. It's now called "Timber Log Cabin Restaurant". 

The owner was very friendly and welcomed us to her place. A woman who came in just as we were sitting down started talking to us. 

She told us she's a 12-year Gatlinburg resident and provided some interesting, mostly one sided, conversation while we were waiting for our order. 

The food was really good. The Philly cheese steak was delicious but the fried seasoned potatoes and onions were amazing. 

The decor of the place is simple. I took this shot of my wife while we were there. 
Having that movie poster behind her, I thought it was kind of cool, given how much of a part it played in our getting together nearly 20 years ago. 

Buying some soap that my wife likes from a specialty shop and a chance to browse through a jewelry store were the reasons for our trek across the street to this mall. 
We spent a few hours on this first part of "The Loop". On our way back to Gatlinburg I had my wife take this video. You'll see what I mean about the multiple different places to stop. A Ride Along Glades Road

For dinner on my birthday we decided to try a new show in the Pigeon Forge area: Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventure dinner show. I will be giving details and sharing pictures in part 2 of this series. 

On Sunday, of my birthday weekend, our son and daughter-in-law, Michael & Heather, came down to spend some time with us. We had a 2 bedroom condo so we invited them. 

Although we were there with our good friends, Mark & Patty back in 2013, this was the first time we'd been with our kids in the Smokies since our son, James got married back in 2009. 

First thing we did together was do some shopping in the Old Mill area. At my insistence we had a picture taken in the gazebo in that's there. 

After The Old Mill, we went to one of our favorite places in the Pigeon Forge area, The Island.  Now I know that I've written about this area before but a couple of things happened for the first time during this visit.

As usual we caught the tram from the parking lot. As we were waiting, I took the opportunity to take another group picture. 
We decided to have dinner at the Margaritaville restaurant. I was happy about this for a couple of reasons. First, we were seated right away and there's usually a wait. 

Second, we were seated in the outside area behind the restaurant right next to the "Five O'clock Somewhere" bar and the Six String performance stage. 
We enjoyed some really good food and got to hear some live music. 

After dinner we walked over to The Island and browsed through the shops as usual. Paula stopped at the essential oils store. I went browsing in the toy store. I found something I'd been wanting for a while. It goes with my bendable Gumby figure. 
 I was quite happy to find this toy. Now the pair of friends are together again. 

The next day, while in an art shop in Gatlinburg, I came across this orange pony again. This time with some friends in a wrap around painting. 
The other thing I was glad to find while shopping at the Island, was something I'd been promising to get for my granddaughter.

In the Big Rock Candy Kitchen store, I found these. They are magnetic metallic stones. 
They are a lot of fun to play with. 

There was one more new thing I did while at The Island that's worth mentioning. 

I have ridden on "The Wheel" several times. It is my favorite thing to do while at The Island. 

Unfortunately, getting on a Ferris wheel is among my wife's greatest fears. So in the past, while I've enjoyed seeing the Pigeon Forge area from 200 feet in the air, Paula has remained with her feet firmly on the ground. 

Well, my ride this time was not a solo one. I had a companion. Heather rode with me. Michael stayed with his mom. Also, for the first time the ride was at night. Check out my video.  Night Riders On The Wheel

So there you have a selection of some of the things I did on my trip to the Smoky Mountains on my birthday weekend. 

Thanks for letting me share them with you. Next time, I'll share a review of the best thing we did during our stay: The Dolly Parton Smoky Mountains Adventure dinner show. See you then.