Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm a ramblin man!

Well, if I was batting or pitching horse shoes it would have been a good week for ol’ bully but since I am talking about football picks from last week at only 50%, I really didn't do to well.  To review: I picked Brantley-1A, Clay County-2A, Cordova-3A, Cherokee County-4A, Russellville-5A, and Hoover-6A. I was correct with Brantley, Cherokee County, and Hoover but missed on the others. 3 out of 6 is not that great when you think you know a little something about high school athletics. The funny thing is one of the teams I got right, Cherokee County, was the one game that was most surprising in terms of the final score. I thought CC would win going away but this turned out to be a very good game. 2009 final games may have been the best set of games in regard to scores we have seen in a long time, with the largest margin of victory being only 13 points. Congrats to Brantley, Reeltown, Piedmont, Cherokee County, Demopolis, and Hoover. As a parting shot to some of the Hoover fans, you now have a championship team with a class coach and you should be glad that he represents your school. Some of you may wish for the former coach but I can guarantee you that there would be a bunch of schools wanting your current coach due to his leadership of young men and his class. Don’t think that was the case before.

A lot of local young men and women basketball players are receiving interest from various SEC schools. Over the last few weeks I have spied several SEC head and assistant coaches in various gyms’ watching some of the local talent.

6A Women’s basketball is going to be fun to watch with Hoover, Bob Jones, and Sparkman all capable of winning the state. In 3A, it should be Madison Academy’s to lose. With a couple of new players that transferred, they are better than last year‘s state runner up. They have already claimed victories over 6A Decatur and Sparkman.

On the men’s side there are 4 teams right now standing out in the Huntsville/Madison County area. Butler is the most talented and best coached team around. Sparkman/Lee/Johnson are all very athletic and capable. My guess is Sparkman will win the 6A Area 15. Bob Jones will be better as the year goes forward but it will be late January to early February before they have at least one of their injured studs back. By that time, Sparkman will most likely have locked up the right to host the area tourney. For the girls, Bob Jones took game 1 against Sparkman but which team wins the area is still TBD. Decatur may be the spoiler before it’s over. In boys 5A Area 16, who knows? Butler should win but with Johnson and Lee in the same area, these three could split victories. Look for 2 of these 3 to meet in region finals at Jacksonville State with the winner advancing on to final 4 and ultimately winning the state. You know the song, second verse, same as the first…. That is usual what happens with 5A Area 16.

Now, how about some bully travel tips for those traveling to Gatlinburg? Most folks that know me, know, I go to G-burg on a routine basis and I am often asked to refer dining spots among other things in and around G-burg.

Breakfast – I recommend The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. Huge breakfast and good food. If you’re into pancakes then you’re in luck as the G-burg area has a bunch of places you can try. To me their all about the same and I tell folks all the time if you want plain pancakes and not the weird kind (buckwheat, pecan, chocolate chip, etc) the best place to go is Crackle Barrel as theirs are crispy and cheaper. You may find that funny but it’s true. A lot of folks foam at the mouth for the Pancake Pantry in downtown G-burg but it ain’t anything special. In fact, they charge way too much for what you get, don’t take debit or credit cards, and have an ATM inside so you can get cash to pay your check while charging you $3 for this privilege. Folk’s line up to get in the place so some must like it but to me it proves that people will buy anything. If you want doughnuts, hit the Doughnut Friar in the Village Shopping Center in downtown G-Burg. Great doughnuts, especially early morning when their hot!

Lunch – Try the Farmhouse restaurant right across the street from the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. Food for everyone including the frou-frou crowd that wants quiche and fruit. They have a diverse menu including meat and soups as well. Another neat spot is a little German cheese/spice shop in the Village right next door to the doughnut Friar (see above). If you can catch them at the right time (they only open the restaurant for lunch and it’s not standard lunch times), upstairs is a small 4 table area with a good REUBEN sandwich. If you’re out by the outlet mall, you can lunch at J T’s (formally Connors). I asked the manager why the name change and he stated it is still owned by Connors but since it is much more casual than other Conner’s restaurants, they changed the name to appease the folks that think Connors ought to be fine dining.

Dinner – Where do I start? I most always eat dinner in G-Burg as I like the restaurants and most you can walk to if you staying in or close to downtown. Peddler has great steaks and salad bar but is always crowded on weekends. The Park Grill is owned by same folks that own Peddler and has a great salad bar and overall menu plus a good piano player (tip him well). Cherokee Grill has wonderful food and great crab bisque. Another good place to try is the Alamo Steak House, their steaks are good but get a cup of their steak soup to start, its good. Looking for something out of the way (not too far) and where the locals dine, the Greenbrier is good. If you want to go, you will need directions as it is not easy to find and on top of a small mountain. For a unique pizza, try the Smokey Mountain Brewery. For fine dining, hit Maxwell’s.

Lodging – There ain’t but one place to stay. Go to Baskin Creek Condominiums. You can walk to everything downtown and you will have plenty of room and covered parking. Rent unit 213 and tell them the owner referred you. I know him and he would appreciate it. If you go and like it, he might even sell it to you. Just saying…!

Fly Fishing – Call R&R Fly Fishing out of Townsend. Ian and Charity are a good team and will put you on some trout in the park. If you don’t have the equipment, they will provide.

These Smokey Mountain travel tips are free as my gift to you, my faithful readers.

I don’t go to a lot of movies (Ms Daisy does) but I did see one a few weeks back that is worth mentioning. Most have already seen The Blindside but if you haven’t you need to. It’s a good’un! Even if you’re not a football fan, it is a good (and true) story.

This will be the last post for the year. I will give you some basketball info after the first of the year. Besides, I might spend some time writing Ms Daisy a love note, you never know. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!