Friday, June 5, 2015

Playing Tourist

(Heiskell, TN)  Hi 85 Lo 59 -- We thought we'd get out and see what the greater Knoxville area has to offer. On Thursday we went to the American Museum of Science an Energy, in nearby Oak Ridge. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Oak Ridge is the location of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The city dates back to WW II when it was one of three sites built as part of project to build the first atomic bomb, known as the Manhattan Project. The other two sites were at Alamagordo, NM and Hanford, WA. Oak Ridge, called the Secret City, was where the uranium and plutonium was processed for the first atomic weapons. Nowadays they primarily maintain our nuclear arsenal and store the supply of weapons grade uranium and plutonium.

The museum not only covered the Manhattan Project, but also had many exhibits that covered the history of electric, solar, and fossil energy.

There were displays of nuclear weapons of all sizes, including the famous "Little Boy" that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945 to end WW II.

There were science demonstrations, like these that showed the effects of static electricity.

The amount of information on display was very overwhelming, much of it very technical. But we enjoyed it very much, and we hardly scratched the surface during the three hours we spent there.

Today (Friday) we took a drive through Knoxville, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg on the way to the Great Smoky Mountains State Park. Knoxville is the home of the University of Tennessee.

The Tennessee Volunteers football team plays in Neyland Stadium, one of the biggest stadiums in the U.S.

The Sunsphere tower in downtown Knoxville was built for the 1982 Worlds Fair.

We made our way through the touristy towns of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. We were expecting heavy traffic, but it wasn't so bad. They sure aren't our kind of towns though, what with all the water slides, go cart tracks, and tacky looking buildings all over town. Gatlinburg consisted more of shops, and the main drag wasn't quite so tacky. We had a pizza lunch, Big Daddy's Pizzeria in Gatlinburg before going into the National Park. We were amazed to see a total of 11% in state and local taxes added to our food bill. Yikes!

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has the highest attendance of all the National Parks. (I know... I didn't believe it either, but it's true.) We had our National Parks Access cards out and ready, but we were surprised to find out there's no entrance fee.

We drove about 20 miles into the park to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park. The trail to the observation tower was steep uphill hike of about 1/2 hike. I forgot to bring my walking sticks and with my bad knees we decided not to chance it. But the views from the parking area were pretty spectacular.

The temperature was 68 degrees, about 20 degrees cooler than at the lower elevations. It's a great place to cool down on a hot summer day.

On the way home as we were driving back through Sevierville Jim was navigating on Google Maps on his phone when he noticed a marker on the map labeled "Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum." Jim is a huge fan of 60' and 70's muscle cars, so of course we had to check it out.

The man was in heaven! There were over 90 cars on display.

Most of the cars were all original, and very cool to look at. There were Mustangs.

Pontiac GTOs.


And many Mopars (Plymouths and Dodges). Jim's favorite cars from his youth are the Plymouth Roadrunner, Plymouth GTX, and Dodge Charger. He was almost drooling all over these.

There were also Cudas and Challengers.

These were just a small sampling of the huge variety of cars that were on display. There were Camaros, Corvettes, Olds 442's, and even a few lesser known muscle cars like the American Motors AMX and Plymouth Duster.

What an unexpected surprise that turned out to be! We've been to a lot of car shows, and usually see only a few muscle cars among all the 50's hot rods and old Model T's. To see so many muscle cars in one place was quite a treat.

We got home around 5:30 and had dinner, then settled in for an evening of truck racing on TV and chat room.

See you in a few days.


Tom and Marci said...

I know 3 guys who would have LOVED that muscle car museum!!

Mark from Missouri said...

Thought the Body Farm was in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee. Get of it should you decide to take the tour.

Paul and Marti Dahl said...

Maybe the reason you see so few muscle cars at car shows is because most of them are in that museum! :c)

Barbara Harper said...

We hope to be in that area on our future travels. Thanks for sharing...........these will be on our "to do" list.

Jenny Johnson said...

My Cable relatives settled the area of Cades Cove in the Great Smoky National Park --Glad you enjoyed it.....

Bob and Jo said...

Great area and a great museum we have added to our list.

Mike and Terri said...

Sounds like you had a great day playing tourist. Of course I perked up when you got to the car museum!:-) We'll have to get to that one someday.