Tennessee Tourists

What a week, back to school and our first overnight visitors.  Too much fun having my sister Sue and brother-in-law Randy visit from Rhinelander, WI last Monday night to Sunday.  They drove down via Memphis (had to see Graceland), with an afternoon in Nashville, and arrived in Knoxville Monday night ready to go.

But first it was Kevin’s first day of school with early dismissal. Since it was picture day, they were to wear their “dress uniform,” shirt and tie.   He had a good first “half day,” despite the fact he was one of the few kids in pants… who knew in Knoxville they wear dress shirts, ties and shorts?

The school’s dismissal/pick up system floored us all.  You drive up in a long snaking line of cars and a cheerful teacher is there with a microphone, calling out last names of kids getting picked up.  Many cars had their family name signs from last year on the front dashboard.  We were so obviously the “new family” as we shouted out the window “Stewart.”  When his name was called over the speaker it seemed like Kevin won Bingo, his ride arrived!  It’s a slow pickup process but certainly a safe one.

The initial plan was to hit Dollywood, but Sue checked hours on the website and they were closed Tues and Thurs once kids were back to school.  Plan B had us heading about 30 miles west to a small quaint town called Sweetwater, a pretty main street with some antique shops and restaurants.  A neighbor told me it’s a cute town and has a place nearby called Lost Sea Adventure.  We first stopped for lunch at a buffet dinner place that tripadvisor gave rave reviews for their homemade food, but our group paraded in and out as it was a little casual for us.   I had brought a change of clothes for Kevin but forgot gym shoes, so while he was still in his dress clothes, we joked we needed something a little classier.

We lunched at Paris Apartment, which was a delightful place for a ladies lunch with tea and finger sandwiches.

So what that we had three macho guys with us?!

They rolled with it and we all enjoyed the food, classical music, atmosphere and delicious tea.  We turned the finger sandwiches into our appetizer course and had paninis for our meals.  When was the last time you had a good finger sandwich?  Delicious.

There were some nice shops, especially Bobby Todd Antiques…great home decor.

Had to grab this photo of license plates in one window.

Sue and Randy got us all involved in her road game to find plates from all states.  Brian spotted these plates right away and tried to get credit for a number of missing states.  Not so easy.

Some people had ice cream, we stopped at Freddy’s and found Kevin a pair of flip flops, then we were off to Lost Sea Adventure.

What’s not to like…from the website:
“our Lost Sea adventure begins with a guided tour of the caverns. This involves a ¾ mile round-trip walk on wide sloping pathways. While touring the caverns and underground lake our guides will tell of the cavern’s exciting and colorful history. They will also explain the fascinating geological development of the immense cavern rooms and rare formations. At the bottom of the cave you will board a glass-bottom boat for an exciting trip on the Lost Sea, America’s Largest underground lake”

Sue and Randy headed down the tunnel to begin the adventure (fuzzy picture but you start down tunnel, then it is all dimly lit natural cavern from there, about 1-1/2 hr total.)

It had great tripadvisor reviews, some said some of the guides’ jokes were corny and it was touristy…I concur with the corny jokes, but the place was full of natural beauty and interest.  At one point the guide showed us what it was like in total darkness…turned off the cave lights and I had never been in pitch black like that before, cool.  We liked the trip and if that is considered touristy, we are officially tourists.

We stopped on the way home at Sonics for milkshakes (starting a major ice cream and shake trend for the week…we’re on vacation, we reminded ourselves.)

Lots more fun was had during the week,  so I’ll post more stories and pictures soon.

We’ve got one more week before Brian and I fly to drop him off at the Univ. of Minnesota Aug. 28, so we’re looking forward to hanging out together before his really big adventure begins.   After seeing him roll with the punches in Sweetwater and be an amazing help throughout our TN move, I know he is ready for big changes and responsibility.  And we’re within one week of being ready (as if that ever happens?) to watch his adventure begin.

Thanks for checking in.

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3 Responses to Tennessee Tourists

  1. GRANDMA JAN says:


  2. Aunt "B" says:

    Always enjoy so much reading about your adventures. If there is one thing the Noakes family is known for is making each outing and gathering an adventure…..

  3. Northwoods Sue says:

    What a great time it was……tea room and all. We hope to make it an annual or biannual trip!!! There was more to see!!!

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