Friday, April 2, 2010

Comfortable Surroundings- Part 2 of 4

We took the long road to Knoxville, through the mountains and over to Townsend, all for one solitary penny machine at a gas station. We walked away empty-handed when the attendant told us the coin slot had jammed on the machine just the day before! It had been removed for repairs. Ugh. But I did get this photo of these beautiful trail horses, waiting to be saddled up and taken out for a guided tour. Yes I absolutely LOVE horses, but no we didn't stop for a ride.

You probably know from this blog that Knoxville is James' hometown, and all of his family lives there. So we make it over several times a year, as it's just a few hours away. I don't have as many photos here of Knoxville, I guess because it is like a second home to me now, and I don't think to take pictures to share with everyone. Next trip I'll do better! But it's a lovely city, especially downtown.

As big as Knoxville is, it surprisingly only has ONE location for pennies. And that's the Knoxville Zoo. I know it may come as a shock, but in all our visits, we hadn't gotten over to the zoo yet.

We made a new friend right away as you can see. The zoo has two penny machines, and one of them happens to be right across from the chimpanzees. I admit I am not much for monkeys, but this fellow came right over to the window and wanted a little company. We sat with him for a long while, and he never left our side the whole time we were there. He seemed very lonely indeed, although I'm sure the staff give him plenty of attention. We got there right when the zoo opened, we were probably the first visitors he had seen that day.

We found plenty of the big furry variety of critters. The pile of sleeping lions reminded us of our kitties at nap time when they cuddle. And the bears, who were swatting at each other with their giant paws, looked just like the cats when they start their roughhouse playing. It is always amazing to me when the "big" guys exhibit traits that we see in our little pint-sized fuzzies.

Zebras have always been a longtime favorite for me, I guess because they are horses in disguise. Did you know that zebras are NOT white with black stripes? No, they are black with white stripes! Yes, it's true.

Look at the whiskers on this fellow...

The red panda was my favorite (below). It was an odd encounter- although they had their own enclosure, there was no glass or cage between us and the pandas. I don't know why. Perhaps they are just gentle, people-friendly critters. On the website, it said that the Knoxville Zoo is second in the world for breeding red pandas. I was so taken with them, I left the gift shop later on with a soft plush version. I would have taken the real deal home, but I don't think the zoo would appreciate that. And, I don't know how he would get along with the cats, although with an average weight of 11 pounds, they are smaller than most of our kids.

And look at this precious little fox! He was cuddled up with a giant teddy bear, taking a nap. He was TOO cute! What a sweet face! I know, it's a wild animal, but it's hard to look at a tiger or wolf, and not see the same lovable features as our domesticated cats and dogs.

And city girl that I am, I couldn't pass up the petting zoo, and I had to brush the goats. I am sure James was laughing at me, because he was raised on a real farm and had animals around him all the time. For him, chickens and cows meant work! Me, I get overjoyed when I see a goat, and I just have to pet them! The zoo had quite a number of animals, too many to post all the photos here. We had a wonderful time, and it was a beautiful day out for it.

The next day, we headed downtown to check out Market Square. My mother-in-law came with us, and we had lunch and did a bit of shopping on another gorgeous day. Downtown Knoxville is quite impressive, and I would like to spend more time down there in the future. They even have a Mast General Store (I have been to all but one location now), where I added to my collection of Life Is Good shirts. I love this store, it is unique to the Carolinas, with the one location here in Tennessee. You can seriously lose track of time (and $$) in there...

On Tuesday night we did follow through with our plans to eat at Ye Olde Steakhouse with James' parents (I did not take photos?!), and we stopped in Three Rivers Market, a small local store near downtown. This is just a little organic grocery shop, but I love it, and I bug my in-laws to take us there almost every visit. But, they have been longtime customers, so hopefully it's not too much of an inconvenience when I ask to go! I wish we had such a place in Newnan, but alas, we don't seem to be as progressive here yet.

Our last evening in town, the whole family gathered at the Truan home for a big birthday dinner for my brother-in-law Richard (below, standing). As always, my mother-in-law Carol cooked a wonderful dinner and dessert for all 14 of us- how does she do it!! I've never cooked for more than 4 before! It was a nice visit with everyone, because sometimes when we come to town, timing doesn't always allow all of us to get together. James' two sisters are busy working women with families, and they live farther away in town. Although his Granny lives right next door, and we had two fun and challenging afternoons of playing cards with her. She is tough to play against!

We will be back to visit twice in May, both for Memorial Weekend (family reunion) and Mother's Day, when hopefully we can treat Mrs. Truan to a good meal that she doesn't have to cook! We left on Thursday morning before the sun came up, to head over to Music City, our next stop on the 2010 Tennessee Tour.


  1. Wow your pictures are great and you guys covered a lot of country in a short time. The fire truck you are sitting on looks like a 1926 or 25 American Le France. I am going to read your Blog again I am sure I missed some stuff. Oh yea, I think my boy Mel Tillis was born in the cracker state. Dis James go cowboy on us?