My First Trek Up Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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If you live in this area then climbing Mount LeConte is probably on your ‘bucket list.’ In addition, an overnight stay at LeConte Lodge is ‘the dream’ because it is so difficult to get a reservation—not to mention getting there. I am not a hiker, nor outdoorsy; however, the possibility of going up the famous mountain with friends was something that I couldn’t pass up. It was finally time. Here is our story from last month: my first trek up Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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We ascended the mountain via the Alum Cave Bluff trail. Many will be glad to see bathrooms at the beginning of the trail. I know that I was!

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A quick glance showed mountain visitors from several states.

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The Alum Cave Bluff trail starts out gently.

IMG_1127The trail becomes steeper as you approach the cave. Melinda said, “the hike is tough, but what a payoff! The views from Alum Cave take my breath away.”

IMG_3587Mountain ridge lines become visible above Alum Cave.

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You gain amazing views as you proceed up the mountain.

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The path is rough, but you can do it with a good fitness level. I had been working toward this goal at National Fitness Center in Sevierville since the spring. In fact, I highly recommend their high intensity fitness classes and the stair climber to prepare for this vigorous hike.

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Take frequent rest breaks if you need them. We did.

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My good friends, Millie Derrick McFalls and Melinda Derrick, were some of the best companions for this first trek up Mount LeConte. Millie worked at the lodge for several summers and Melinda has made the ascent before so they knew what to pack and what to do.

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The trail presents some exciting moments—and photos!

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Nice drop off! Hang on to the ropes. You have plenty of room, but the ropes increase the safety and feeling of security.

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My climbing companions were (pictured left to right) Lisa Stone, Melinda Derrick, and Millie Derrick McFalls. Lisa Stone has served in the Teacher in the Parks program and the Teacher Ranger (TRP) program. Her knowledge of the mountains, plants, animals, and hiking made it so much more interesting and fun. She also carried an alarm in case we came into contact with wild animals.

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Melinda said that there are about 28 places on the trail with these security ropes.

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When you feel like your legs will not go much farther then you may reach what is called the ‘Hallelujah’ trail. This flat section is the last quarter mile to LeConte Lodge, your final destination.

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Our first contact with the lodge was this privy that any hiker can use. There are more bathrooms for lodge guests as well.

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We had just enough time to check into our cabin before dinner was served in the lodge dining room.

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There is no electricity in the dining hall, but the skylights and windows allow natural light. The dining room is cozy in the cool air at the top of the mountain. Temperatures that June night dropped into the 40’s up on LeConte.

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This will be the best corn bread that you have ever had in your life. In fact, the whole meal will taste amazing!

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Dinner at 6,593 feet will be the best one of the year. Delicious!

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You will need to carb load for all the hiking you will do, even while  on the top of the mountain. These Toll House cookies were as good as they look! Feel free to take another!

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After dinner, Lisa and I trekked to the ‘Clifftops.’ This is the best spot to watch the sunset. It was kind of tricky for me with all the rocks and slick spots, but I was glad that I went there. Does it look like you can reach up and touch the clouds?

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Upon arrival back at our cabin, we could look over the tree line and see the lights from Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. Lisa said that she said the big wheel at the Island. The lights extending to the right are from Dolly Parton Parkway. The lights north of that show Highway 66 to the Interstate.

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Some cabins have double sized bunk beds. They may be queen sized! Two people can share each bed of this type.

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Lisa and I got up at 5:30 a.m. in order to see this sunrise from Myrtle Point. It was the most amazing sight of the entire trip! Make sure that you do this. Take flashlights and a walking stick because the path is a little tricky in the rocky areas.

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Even with the clouds, the sunrise will impress you.

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Lisa walking back to the cabin from the sunrise at Myrtle Point. You can see how the paths look like creek beds.

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The ‘office’ has morning coffee so bring the cup from your room for caffeine. See the sign- in book to the right of the coffee? Make sure that you register your name, hometown, and how many times you have made the climb to the lodge. Look at old pictures on the wall and some of the ‘hall of fame’ climbers who have made a name with frequent treks to the top of the mountain.

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This was a good way to wake up and prepare for the descent back down the mountain.

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I love this photo of my friends enjoying a chat and coffee on Mount LeConte.

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Breakfast at the lodge is perfect. This is just half of it. There were biscuits and gravy and more.

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For some new views, Lisa and I chose to descend the mountain via the Boulevard Trail. It is longer than Alum Cave trail, but I wanted to see the wonderful views—and they were stunning.

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We began the descent and took our time.

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The Boulevard trail contained one of my favorite spots (and pictures) on the whole trail.

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We were walking among the clouds during the first part of the hike down LeConte.

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We got caught in a thunderstorm about halfway down the mountain. Make sure that you have a poncho. And now, I can say that I have done part of the AT, the Appalachian Trail.

Truly, I am a novice so check with seasoned hikers before you begin any hike in the Smokies. Thanks to my friends, I was prepared and had a great time. After my legs recovered for a couple of days, I can say that I would consider going back up the mountain next year. After all, I didn’t get to see the llama pack train that goes up the mountain with supplies three times a week. Next year!

There are so many good pictures from this trip. So many good times. The Derrick sisters summarize it well. “Experiencing the walk, the lodge, and time with my sister and friends is priceless. We made memories.” Millie agrees, ” I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

 

 

Relay For Life +SCHS Host ‘Hoops For Heroes’

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March Madness hit the SCHS gym last Saturday afternoon when local heroes battled it out on the hardwood for bragging rights—and to support one of the hardest working volunteer organizations in Sevier County. It was Hoops for Heroes to benefit Relay For Life.

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I walked in, paid the $5 admission, and said hello to the student volunteers. Many, many concessions were available. Have lunch there when you go next year.

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I was late so games were in full swing by the time I arrived. Six teams competed:  Pigeon Forge Police, Sevierville Police, Sevierville Fire, Pigeon Forge Fire, and two teams from the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.

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Above is a collage of four of the teams.I missed two of the shirts due to the speed of the players.  😉

Play was divided into 15 minute segments. There was a 5 minute break between games. Competition was fierce. Good recovery here!

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Sevier County High has a Relay For Life student chapter. Some of the organizers for this event were Leslie Mattern, Michael Maddron, and Ben Brabson. Scorekeepers were Beth Ownby and Ben Brabson.

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Officiating was strict! Officials were Scott Ward and Jason Ownby.

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Event co-chairs for the Hoops for Heroes event were Judy Bales (left) and Danette Rolen (right).

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Sevier County Mayor, Larry Waters; Judy Bales, event co-chair; and Brian McCarter support the Hoops for Heroes basketball competition.

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department team scores a basket.

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My friends, Wendy and Becky, cheering on the Sevierville Fire and Police Department teams.

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Our favorite, Officer Leia Loveday, getting ready to play for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.

A battle for the basket by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department.

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This was just part of the cheering section for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Seals and his wife Wanda were enjoying the game, especially since they had two teams in the event.

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All eyes are on the ball!

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Becky Roberts and the parents of star player, Jaime Roberts. I saw him hit some three pointers.

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Players in the championship game.

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Relay For Life board members, Carlene Maples and Sophia Conerly enjoyed the event.

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This political message is paid for by Tad Wynn.

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I expected some of the players on the teams to be former high school players due to the skills. As I watched the Pigeon Forge Police Department, a couple of players stood out. I talked to this player at the end and then recognized him. This is Logan McCarter, an SCHS athlete and member of the class of 2013. Fun to watch him play again!

Some former high school hoops players shine on the hardwood.

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Brian McCarter brings his commentator skills to the Relay for Life Hoops for Heroes event. The team nicknames were priceless! (The Budgetbusters?) I am still laughing about that one.

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The scorekeeping was in good hands.

There was strong play in the championship game between the Sevierville and Pigeon Forge Police Departments.

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It was a battle, but the Pigeon Forge Police Department won the championship game; thus, they are the winners of the Hoops for Heroes event. Fierce play!

The Sevier County Sheriff’s Department won the consolation game. Well played!

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Clearly, all participants and volunteers last Saturday were heroes, especially in helping the fight against cancer. If you wanted to find a hero, the SCHS gym was full of them in the picture above. Many thanks to them all.

This was a wonderful, family friendly event and I am so glad that I was able to see some of the games. I will arrive early next time. Be ready for next year because I think that this event will return with teams ready to ‘even the score.’ There may be even more teams. Lawyers? Moonshiners? Stay tuned! Relay for Life’s Hoops for Heroes was one of my favorite things to do this month. It was a good Saturday to get out and about in Sevierville. 

 

 

 

Top 10 Reasons to Run the Smoky Bear Turkey Chase 5K

It is November so it is time to consider running in the SCHS Smoky Bear Turkey Chase 5K. I ran it last year and can’t wait to do it again. Here are my top 10 reasons why you should consider this 5K race in our own backyard. I’ll use some pictures from last year to illustrate some points.

  1. It is fun! It is laid back and relaxed as you will ever find a 5K. Show up and run by yourself. You will still have a blast.

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2.   Proceeds support the SCHS STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Scholarship.

3.   You will meet nice people. There will be families that are both local and visitors for the holiday weekend.

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4.   Race conditions are very comfortable. If it is like last year, the race is mostly on a flat surface. You will not be far from shelter or a bathroom. That is important to some of us!

5. You can walk or run the 5K. Do it at your own pace.

6. You may find yourself running alongside local dignitaries and celebrities too. At the starting line, I found myself standing by Judge Gary Wade and Coppley Vickers. You will probably see Coach B and Kristi Atchley at the race.

7.   You have a decent chance of winning an award. If you are over 40 then you have a very good chance of winning an award. If you are over 50 then you have an outstanding chance of winning an award! Last year, there were 3 awards in every age division. I actually won in my age group!

8.   You will probably laugh several times. Student encouragers will use humor to keep you moving.

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9.  You may get to meet someone famous. Last year, we met a famous Spartan racer.

Jamie McCart ran the race and won in his age group. Train hard, guys! He had an interesting story last year. Click this link to see his story on my blog last year.

https://outandaboutinsevierville.com/2016/11/28/part-2-the-best-thanksgiving-5-k-in-tennessee-the-smoky-bear-turkey-chase-2016/

10.   You can be in and out in an hour and a half. Go home and eat Thanksgiving dinner with little guilt.

Bonus: You will have the best afternoon nap ever.

Want to sign up? You can find them on Facebook. Here is a link. https://www.facebook.com/SCHS-Foundation-5k-1467641556852735/

This is the best little 5K race in Tennessee on Thanksgiving Day. Come run with us!

It is a fun, healthy way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

SCHS Homecoming 2017

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It was perfect weather for Friday night lights and SCHS Homecoming festivities at Burchfiel Stadium.

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Lisa, Debbie, and I entered the stadium and ran into some Smoky Bear fans. I know their mom, Holly Carr, and know that she must be very proud of them!

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Band moms helping out by selling ‘thunder sticks’ to create noise to confuse our opponents.  Allison should bring those to work so we can use them there in certain circumstances. 🙂

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Tabatha Ogle selling treats to benefit the SCHS band. Let’s see what they have…

I have been told that the ‘Band Crack’ is quite addictive so I was scared to try it. Let me know what you think!

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I always like to go up and say hello to Mr. Gary Roach, retired principal of SCHS. He is pictured here (from left to right)  with his wife, Darlene; daughter, Sandra; and grandson, Zach.

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Recently appointed SCHS Principal, Stephanie Huskey, is cheering on the Smoky Bears near the top of the stadium. She is also an alumnus of the high school. Great things are happening at SCHS this year!

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The man. The legend. Doc Ramsey.

SCHS Band Director Emeritus.

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Next, I went down to the field to photograph alumni participants in the homecoming festivities. The student section was watching homecoming intently for the winner.

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Here are some members of the Alumni Band ready to join the pre-game show. These graduates belong to the class of 2017. Welcome back!

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These band members were from the 1980’s. They still rock the purple and white!

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The student section prepares to rock.

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Under the direction of Nathan Rhea, SCHS Choir members sing the Alma Mater.

I caught the last part of the “Star Spangled Banner.”  Beautifully done!

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The Homecoming court exits the field after crowning the queen.

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Smoky Bear football players run from the stadium down the to the field. Time to get out of the way!

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The press box is a long way up, but the view is worth it.

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The scoreboard is busy with announcements. This one invites the crowd to visit services at the Sevierville First United Methodist Church, for both a traditional and a contemporary services.

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My camera is not great in the dark, but you can see the announcement from Alex Barnwell and the Horace Mann Company. I recommend him!

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The SCHS band begins the halftime show.

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Great performance by the SCHS band!

 It is great to get out and about in Sevierville to enjoy fall, Fridays, and football.

Go Smoky Bears! 

A Great Night at the Smokies Ballpark: August 18, 2017

I was excited to go to a Smokies game for it is a great activity for a summer evening. However, when I found out that we were going to watch it from a suite then the game became even more exciting! Always wondered what a suite looked like and how it was to watch a game from on high. Last night, I experienced a Smokies baseball game from a suite. Here is what we saw during the game last night. 


Tickets were obtained from my friend’s brother, the host of the suite. It was sponsored by Jasper Engines. We walked up to the ‘will call’ table and had tickets quickly in hand. 


First, we noticed the van from my favorite morning station, Star 102.1.  I love the Marc and Kim show to wake up in the morning. 


Tyrone “On Phones” was at the table and talked to us a few minutes. I had asked him about a story I had heard on the radio, but was not able to hear the ending. He is such a nice young man, as you can gather from listening from him on the radio. Known for his personal style and easy going manner, seeing Tyrone was a great way to start the evening. 


We went up a special elevator (just one floor) and walked down the hall to find suite #1 . We passed the broadcasting room on the way. 



The suites are not overly large, but they are air conditioned! Also, there is food and a mini-refrigerator for beverages. This is the view from the front door of our suite. So nice!


The suite rental can involve your choice of food and drinks. 


Our group enjoys the game with great seats! Pictured in  front are newlyweds, Millie Derrick McFalls and Doug McFalls, and suite host, Mark Derrick. Back row: Penny Derrick, sister-in-law to Millie and Melinda; a Smokies fan; and Melinda Derrick. Mark Derrick is the brother of Millie and Melinda. 


There is another benefit of renting a suite at Smokies stadium. Meet Homer! 


A sweet visit from Homer made a memory for little baseball fans. Soon, my friend and I decided to stroll around and see parts of the stadium that were new to us—-starting with the upstairs suites. 

We saw people in this suite, but I wasn’t sure who they were. Later, someone said that they saw Randy Boyd on the Jumbotron screen. I think that he may be our next govenor so that was exciting. Wish that I had run into him in the hallway or the elevator.  



I probably wasn’t supposed to be in this area, but there was no barrier. It looked like a great place to watch the game. 


There were many jerseys and posters of former players displayed in the hallway. I felt lucky to see this player at Smokies Stadium before he went to the pros. 


Lots of refreshments and sports fans around. 


We took the steps down to the first level to walk around. The stairwell was large. This was on the wall on the way down. How lucky we are to have a ‘farm’ team in our county!


Real baseball fans will appreciate this sign that was also found in the stairwell. 


You never know who you will see at a game! Millie and Doug McFalls taking a stroll around the stadium. 


We wanted to walk around the stadium to see it from different vantage points. We walked to the right to explore. This view is from right field. 


We were on alert to the sound of bats cracking and hitting balls because you can get hit at a game. I really didn’t want to get hit in the head. In this area, we relaxed a little bit knowing that the chances were less likely here. 


An interesting alley behind the scoreboard. Young guys were running around with baseball gloves in this area in case of fly balls. 


The Smokies were behind at this point. 


My favorite time during a baseball game, especially on a hot day, is when night falls and the lights turn on. Love it!


We found this snack rail to be a paradox in advertising. 


We eventually returned to our seats and enjoyed the kids running on the field between an inning. Looks so fun! 9


When it was finally time to go, we slowly walked down this corridor to the elevator, appreciating the history on the walls. 


Isn’t this the best elevator in town? 

A Smokies baseball game is one of the best family activities available to us during the summer and a great way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

I completely enjoyed my time in the suite with the Derrick family and the Jasper Engines company and hope everyone gets the opportunity to see a game this summer in the time that we have left. 

See you at the stadium! 

Fly High at Sevier Air!

Looking for fun or an intense workout? This place has it all …and more! Follow along as eight of us played at Sevier Air yesterday.


First, you walk in the door and check in by computer, watching safety rules and signing an electronic waiver. Pay close attention because you want to have fun, not deal with bumps, bruises, or worse. The tutorial goes quickly and you’ll be glad to know all the rules for your first visit.


The price is more than worth it. Kids play freely and get a huge workout (adults too). Bystanders can watch for free and take pictures. Well worth it!


You will get a special pair of socks with grippy bottoms to reduce slickness. Bring them back each visit and receive $2 off. You can see the cubbies in the picture above. There are several throughout the building. The Ninja Course requires shoes, so just store them in cubbies while jumping on the trampoline courses.


We started on the Ninja Course because my niece is applying to the police academy and must do a fitness and obstacle course. This ninja course is nothing to laugh at because I could do very little of it. The course replicates the TV show. Consequently, we stayed there a long time, especially with the walls to scale. It was amazing and we all tried it. Over and over again. Two of my nephews could do it so it was great fun.


You have to get a running start and feet must dig into the wall, using all your momentum. It is amazing that people can do this. My sisters and I tried it several times. It is a fun way to compete against each other. Suzanne got her hands up the highest so she won.


The kid at the top may be a future ninja on TV. What an athlete!


The glass wall was kind of hard.

Slam dunk to your heart’s content. One was even adjustable, coming down to any player’s reach. Fun!


There were several dodge ball courts. We played before leaving and just 10 minutes there can be exhausting. But what fun. We played boys against the girls, with one little boy wanting to play with us. I threw the ball as hard as I could, but my nephew just caught it in his hands. No head shots allowed! The hardest part is maintaining your space with a lot of players and not intruding on their trampoline. Strategy!


The jousting area is fun. Players must be well matched in order to play. If you fall in the foam then it feels great, but you really have to ‘swim out’ to get out of there.


I am no athlete, but had a blast!  Therefore, I recommend that you do 2 hours. One hour goes by too quickly. Especially if you are playing with family and friends.


Adults and kids can play side by side. Be careful because you could get a bump, bruise, etc. It is very vigorous, intense fun.


You can take some fun pictures in there. Can you see what we are spelling? V-O-L-S!

We also took some fun ‘Boomerang’ shots for Instagram.


Snack bar downstairs can come in handy. There are drink vending machines on all levels too.


There are a lot of rooms for birthday parties. Each room has a capacity of 43 people. My nephew had his birthday here earlier in the year and enjoyed it with lots of his friends.  Call Sevier Air to get more details.

I was very, very impressed with the amenities for parents and those who prefer not to play. No kidding—it was nice!


An upper level looks over the entire facility. There are large screen TVs, chairs, and tables for waiting parents.  A lounge for ninja parents.


You can rent a massage chair. In addition, you can charge your cell phone while you wait. Brilliant!




Ball are lined up for dodge ball. Workers can referee, if you like.

I was very impressed with Sevier Air and can’t wait to go back. I asked and they said that they may resume fitness classes there in the future. You burn a LOT of calories there.

Here are my final recommendations:

  1. Wear shorts and a T-shirt because you will get a little hot.
  2. Pay attention at all times and follow the rules so you don’t get banged up. I did fine. Just bumped my elbows on the ‘wall,’ but almost twisted my foot on the way down.
  3. Do a minimum of 2 hours. One is just getting warmed up!
  4. Try to go mid-week when the crowds are down if you are not used to jumping on trampolines.
  5. Eat a good snack or carb load before you go. It takes a lot of energy there, but you have so much fun that you don’t realize it until later.
  6. Go with as many friends and family as will go. The more the merrier. I have not laughed that much in a while. So fun!

Play like a ninja and don’t worry about who is watching.

We are all ninjas.

Sevier Air rocks and Sevierville is lucky to have such a nice facility. My sister said that it is a lot better than the one in Knoxville due to the challenging ninja course. With that, you need to fly high at Sevier Air. We did!
It is an intensely fun way to get out and about in Sevierville. 

See you at the ‘wall!’

Sevierville 7 Day Planner: November 12 – 19, 2016

Things start getting busier in Sevierville next week, plus more things approaching the holidays. Here are some fun happenings coming up in Sevierville to mark on your calendar. I am going to use screen shots because the information is excellent.

First, this just popped up on my Facebook feed. Everyone loves the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. While not in Sevierville, it is only minutes away with great food, shopping, and photo opportunities. My favorite store is Sassafras so this looks like a ‘must do’ on Saturday. Red Velvet Fudge? Oh my…

 

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We are (finally) getting a new Dairy Queen across the street from Sevier County High School. Will you be in line early next Tuesday morning? Worth it!

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There is a cooking demo at KaTom next Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. presented by the Executive Chef from Babalu Tapas and Tacos in downtown Knoxville. It is a fun place to eat so I can’t miss this class. Call KaTom at 865-225-1545 to RSVP.  Save me a seat near the counter!

Here is a link to the website. https://eatbabalu.com

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This event is more than a week away, but you need time to register and, perhaps, train for it. Get ready for the Thanksgiving Day 5K at Sevier County High School. The race this year, if I remember correctly, stays on the high school campus rather than out on the streets. The campus is quite large and will easily accommodate a 5K. You walk it or you can run it. Proceeds benefit Dr. Suzanne South’s science lab.

Go to the Foundation Facebook page and scroll down to learn more about the race and to see pictures of the science lab. The upgrades from previous fundraising have really made a difference so come and support the school.

https://www.facebook.com/SevierCountyHighSchoolFoundation/

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This is what it looks like when you open Eventbrite to register for the race. Run and be home by 9:30 a.m. to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner! Don’t worry about the buffet lunch after this race.

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(If you have an event that you want for me to share then send me an invitation or announcement via email or Facebook two weeks before the date. A month in advance would be even better.)

I see several fun events coming up at the end of the month and into early December so get ready to get out and about in Sevierville for the holidays!

 

Friday Night Lights —Smoky Bear Style!

We all look forward to seasonal rituals. A favorite in East Tennessee has to do with Friday Night Lights. It was a beautiful evening to watch our favorite high school football team, the Sevier County High School Smoky Bears!

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Beautiful weather this evening for a football game.

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The airplane flyover is my favorite part.

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Getting ready for the game against Cleveland.

Running through the …what do they run through? I am used to saying “running through the ‘T’ ” for the Vols. This part is exciting too.

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You won’t find a better Smoky Bear fan than Mr. Roach!

 

Wearing of the purple to support the Smoky Bears.

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FBC taping the game.

More hard core Smoky Bear fans!     Patriotic scoreboard.

Touchdown!

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My favorite part is when the lights turn on with the sunset. This may be the best thing about getting out and about in Sevierville.

See a few more pictures on the Out and About in Sevierville Facebook page.

Here is the link.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1254469567899261/

Go Bears!!!