Chris’s Virtual Vacations – Gatlinburg, TN: Day Two

Day Two – The Adventure Continues

1:15pm: Lunch at Atrium Pancakes and On To Mountain Mall
We slept in Friday morning and then had a breakfast of Pop Tarts, orange juice, and coffee. I then spent the next four hours creating my Day One travelogue, while Anna alternately read, watched TV, and napped, never once asking, “Aren’t you through yet?!” She deserves a medal for her patience and tolerance.

Anna and her pancakes
We went to Atrium Pancakes for lunch at 1:15. Anna ordered the chocolate chip and coconut pancakes, which I’m afraid aren’t rendered very well in the picture to the right, while I had plain old pancakes with ham and eggs. After lunch, we went to the post office to mail a few post cards and get stamps for a few more, and then returned to the main strip of 441. We went into Mountain Mall, looked around for a while, bought about fifteen dollars worth of books at Book Warehouse (including three John Bellairs novels, which have really cool titles like The Revenge of the Wizard’s Ghost and The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull), and then set out for Ripley’s.

4:50pm: The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum
Robert L. Ripley was a cartoonist who made a career and a fortune out of traveling the world in search of odd and unusual facts to present to the public, first through his syndicated newspaper cartoon, then later through radio, TV, and even personal appearances. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museums, of which there are 26 worldwide, had their start at the “Odditorium” at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. As the museum guidebook describes it, “On display were genuine shrunken heads from the Upper Amazon, medieval chastity belts, instruments of torture, and even The Last Supper painted on a dime!”

Mammoth skeleton
We saw the shrunken heads, chastity belts, and instruments of torture, but we didn’t see the dime; we did, however, see a stuffed two-headed cow, a chain of chewing gum wrappers that’s over a mile long and which a school teacher spent almost two decades constructing, and a funhouse mirror that made me look like my legs went just about to my neck, with practically no torso in between!

We also had a wax cast of our hands made, a process that involved dipping our hands in 136-degree wax about a dozen times, waiting for the wax to cool, then carefully extricating our hands from the wax to leave a Chris-and-Anna-holding-hands shaped mess of wax. It was a most unusual experience, and Anna is delighted with the results.

Fiji Mermaid
There is also a replica of a woolly mammoth’s skeleton, a horse statue made of coat hangers, and Robert Ripley’s personal favorite item from his collection, the Fiji Mermaid, which was fabricated out of the upper section of a monkey and the lower half of a fish, and exhibited in the late 1800s as a genuine mermaid by P. T. Barnum.

7:20pm: Dinner at Blaine’s Bar & Grill
Streets of Gatlinburg
While we were in Ripley’s (a span of time greater than two hours), a thunderstorm came up and soaked the city, even causing the power to cut off briefly a couple of times as we made our way through the exhibits. After leaving the museum, we trudged up the steaming streets, and ended the day with dinner at Blaine’s Bar & Grill. After eating, I took a few pictures of the still-wet city streets and the surrounding mountains from the balcony outside the third floor.

Finally, we went to the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen (which, despite the name, was not that smoky), bought a half-pound of bridge mix (mostly chocolate covered raisins, peanuts, and almonds) and came back to the cabin.