By the third one, I was done.
Correction- I didn’t even get as far as starting on the third one. I had to humbly decline after number two. I was trying to live in the moment, experience new things, because #yolo. But even that has a limit, right? It tasted
nasty like fire and it didn’t stop there. I could feel the heat all the way to my stomach. But … I can now say I have tasted moonshine.
Oh, you don’t know what moonshine is? Don’t worry, I too didn’t know what it was before moving to Tennessee. Good ol’ volunteer state. Good times.
Moonshine is high proof distilled spirits- a fancy way of saying almost 100% alcohol. It’s a thing in Tennessee. When I moved down there, it didn’t take me long to gather what it was. I think I even actually smelled it and promptly decided Coca Cola or Sprite was a safer/better tasting option for me. haha.
So I moved from Tennessee never having tasted it. When I got a chance to go back in May last year, I decided this would be the time to try it. Why did I make the 6 hour (or 7 hour if you account for the traffic) drive to the Smoky Mountains, though? I’m glad you asked. Short story: I went to buy a timeshare.
It was mother’s day weekend and my mum was visiting me so we went together. We were going to have a girls’ weekend- omg, so fun! We got to Gatlinburg Friday evening, checked in to the hotel, then decided to go find some dinner. I’d been to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg once or twice when I lived in Tennessee but never stayed overnight. This time, I planned to have a fuller experience.
Just a short drive from the hotel (we should have walked really, but I didn’t know how close things were), was the main long street (Parkway) that had all the shops, restaurants, and attractions. We had dinner at Mellow Mushroom and had an amazing pizza. I’d been to a Mellow Mushroom once in Indiana and loved it so when I saw one again, I knew I had to take my mum there. They imply, through their decor, signage, and waiter/waitress uniforms, that the mushroom is the kind that is lit up and smoked. I find this humorous :).
And no, this is not where I had the moonshine.
We had so much food, that afterwards my mum suggested we take a walk to burn off some of the calories. When my mum suggests a walk, you know it’s real! haha. So we took a walk, and honestly, it was very nice to just take a walk with my mum. Even though it may sound simple and ordinary, it felt amazing to me as I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my mum- living on different continents and all. Don’t take things like that for granted, friends.
Even though it was late, there were still lots of people walking around everywhere. We saw a mini Herbie Goes Bananas car- at least, that’s what I think it was. We saw the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant and I was so excited. I didn’t know it was a chain restaurant so I thought it was a hilariously great idea. There was a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium [I think their spelling of auditorium was quite clever- I love puns!], Guinness World Records Museum, Arcadia Space Needle, and other fun attractions. We decided we would come check out more stuff the next day, and then we went back to the hotel.
In the elevator, we met an older lady who was very chatty. Well, southern hospitality I guess. Or maybe because she had just come back from a show- the Smoky Mountain Opry which she apparently had a blast at. She asked if we had been to it, I said no. She said she highly recommended it, it was fun, very well done, etc. To be honest, I thought, I was definitely not going to go. But my mum said was interested so yep, we were going!
I called to reserve tickets and the lady told me if I got tickets to another show in addition, it would be a nice discount. This was a comedy and dinner show (Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show). As long as food was involved, it was beginning to sound promising. I wouldn’t even be upset if the show itself wasn’t funny.
So we set off to Parkway for the day and happened upon the Ole Smoky Moonshine store. They had a huge sign that said ‘Free Moonshine Samples’ so I walked right in (free is one of my favorite words :P). It was a store where they sold all sorts of souvenirs and the other end of the store, they had the liquor. There was a bar and barlady giving out the samples to the crowd. She would also explain what was in each sample before pouring it out. I noticed everyone had these little cups (they looked like the ones used for communion at church) but I couldn’t figure out where they got the cups. I asked my mum if she wanted to try some and she said no. I figured I would have to go on this journey alone.
I went up there and bravely declared I would like to try some. They asked for my ID and after making sure I wasn’t underage, I was given my own communion cup. I was poured the first one and before I could talk myself out of it, I downed it in one go. My face did not look very pretty for the first few seconds after that. My mum laughed at me. I decided I would go on; the barlady said the moonshine would get stronger with each taste. The second one was worse. Another unpleasant face. A few of the other tasters laughed at me this time. Then the bar lady made to pour the third one and that was when I decided I was done. I’d tasted it, and now I knew what it was like. haha.
Next, we walked some more then decided it was ice cream time. Ben and Jerry’s came to the rescue :). I wanted to do some hiking in the smokies- my mum didn’t so we came to a midway point. We would ride the cable cars to [one of] the mountains and enjoy the view that way. It was a bit scary and my mum kept telling me not to look down. haha. I guess she wouldn’t enjoy a trip to Cedar Point or Six Flags then :).
We came back from that, walked around some more and somehow ended up at the Moonshine store again. But I had learned my lesson- no more ‘tasting’. So we just sat and listened to the band that was playing outside; some good old country and bluegrass music (here’s a short clip I recorded). Then I saw a man run out of the moonshine store puking. I guess he had a little too much to taste. We decided it was time to go relax in the AC of the hotel room before heading to our shows.
The dinner/comedy show was a LOT of fun. I highly recommend it. The food was great too and the sweet tea? Let me just say, I discovered the real sweet tea while living in Tennessee and nothing I’ve had elsewhere can compare. Then it was time for the Opry! That was also am amazing show, for all ages- if I may add. That lady did us a great service by telling us about it. I also highly recommend it. And best of all, my mum had a great time!
During intermission, there was an opportunity for me to feed a [bengal?] tiger, but I decided not to. What if it decided it wanted me for dinner instead?? Maybe some other time.
The next day, I bought a timeshare, then started the journey home. I took a detour and drove through the mountains since we didn’t get to hike and I wanted to see some of the views. Talk about hilly! I was on my brakes the whole time downhill and still going at a slightly uncomfortable pace- worse there were cars in front of me! Anyway, we survived that and also the almost 7 hour car ride back home.
It was an awesome weekend and I can’t wait to go on the next girls’ trip with my momma! Great times …