Wheelchair Accessible Tennessee Trip
by Syd & June Burns

Syd & June at Dandridge

Syd & June Burns at Dandridge

Syd and June Burns, of Penrith, England, saw the best of Knoxville, Tennessee. From Dollywood to Davy Crockett sites, the Burns enjoyed the best of friends, regional cooking and music.

Monday 30 April

The taxi was on time and we did our normal thing at the Raddison Manchester Airport. We were well received and the wheelchair friendly room was just that, friendly. Harry Ramsdons for the evening meal of fish and chips, a few pints with a delightful Italian who was telling about how Italy has changed in the last few years regarding wheelchair travellers. It makes us want to try it.

Tuesday 1 May

No problems getting onto the aircraft after paying an extra 40 tax that our chancellor afflicted on us, allegedly to save the planet from pollution, but in reality is a stealth tax. I was not amused at all. US Air had the most surly, grudging crew I have ever experienced. Everything was just too much trouble. We are not normally moaners but the cabin crew just wanted to sit in the back and keep as far away from the passengers as possible. Mercifully we arrived in Philadelphia with June not too stressed out but really suffered on the next leg to Knoxville. The one lady crew was superb. We really should have stayed the night in Philadelphia. Arriving at the Marriott Hotel in Knoxville after a very gentle and courteous taxi, June went right to bed. She never took the travel well this time.

Wednesday 2 May

June still not in very good shape but managed a breakfast with a most attentive staff. They really looked after us well, ensuring that we had anything we wanted. Our room was superb with only one fault, the mirror was too high for a wheelchair. We told the staff and they said they would adjust to suit. We were convinced that no one had complained before, so once again the walking person had no idea of the problems. We walked around Nashville and found it very friendly and easy for a wheelchair. We never got as far as the old town as we found a lovely place that was a visitors centre, cafe, and the home of a radio station that sponsored local music. One Vision Plaza is a 100-year-old downtown building located at the corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Avenue in downtown Knoxville. Very wheelchair friendly all round and the music was brilliant. Today it was local school kids performing. We can listen to it from England everyday on http://www.wdvx.com  Most enjoyable and the food was adequate.

June relaxes with friends at Sampsons Glen

June relaxes with friends at Sampsons Glen

We wandered back to the hotel and were picked up by our friends who took us to their lodge at Sampsons Glen on Douglas Lake. Most impressive. This was our first meeting for nearly 20 years so it was an Irish Parliament, everyone talking and no one listening. Arriving at their superb place we had to do some adjustment to get the wheelchair in and decided that it would be better if we stayed on the lower level. June was still not back to her normal self and so we had an early night.

Thursday 3 May

Up early and Paul cooked a superb but huge breakfast. We had to convince him that we Brits don't eat the same way as the Americans. It was wonderful sitting on the decks listening and looking at the wild life. They had names for all of them. Kermit the frog, who bellowed all the time, Bonny and Clyde, two ducks that had been there for many years, so many it would take too long to tell. Paul and Annette decided that the weather was good for a trip to Dollywood. They have season passes so we got in for free. Wheelchair friendly all the way, we were impressed. Toilets spotlessly clean and well thought out. It was a joy. We were there about 8 hours and never saw all of it. A magic place. To be recommended for any wheelchair user. When we arrived back at the lodge it was decided that it was the time to contact Greyhound for our next leg of the trip to Nashville. Don't ever bother. The wheelchair person has to go through the Grand Inquisition to get a seat. The questions had to come from the disabled person themselves and left June stressed out. We have travelled the world and the questions were really invasive. We would not recommend any disabled person to even attempt Greyhound. We came to the conclusion that they would do anything but carry a disabled person. We had a discussion and decided that we would abandon that leg and cut short our trip. June was feeling OK by now, but we were not happy about touring in a city where we had no back up. How would we get back to Knoxville by Greyhound? Their could not care less attitude for a wheelchair traveller was frightening. Beware. So we were happy to cut short the stay, although it meant missing out seeing some other friends. US air was accommodating although we had to pay a surplus to get our dates changed.

Friday 4 May

Time for shopping. The pound being good against the dollar, Sketchers here we come. Levi Jeans for June. No problems at all for wheelchairs everyone so helpful. Had a giggle at a post office that had run out of stamps. Ho hum, some people do have problems. They were really stressed out. Lost June completely in a hobby shop called Hobby Lobby. The credit card really had a big hole in it by the time June had finished. Home and a change after doing a detour to see Davy Crockett historical sites. Then off to a greasy spoon place that had grim food but good music. What a superb night. June took one look at the toilets and elected to go across the road to McDonald's. A good choice. The music was really local and superb, I even got up to sing a Beatles number with them. Classic. No alcoholic drink though, right in the heart of the Bible belt. A great time. In America you get directions by the churches in England by the pubs.

Saturday 5 May

Rain, what a joy, sat on the porch, listened and watched the wildlife. We watched squirrels, ducks, fish splashing, frogs croaking, and the awesome birds. The drink was plentiful I am glad to say. We had an evening meal at a place called Smokies that really looked after the wheelchair people and the food was great. Far too much. Then we went to friends of friends on a lakeside frontage that was magnificent. I drooled over a collection of old MG cars. Way out of our bracket but superb.

Sunday 6 May

June proudly displays her Bass catch.

June proudly displays her Bass catch.

Fishing day, out on Douglas Lake. We manoeuvred June to the Minnow, a small boat that was not to much trouble for June to get aboard. The wheelchair was locked on and off we went. Alas, the wind got up and we had a rocking time. Back to the dock to fish from there in safety. June fished and caught a small mouth Bass, to much shrieking and screaming. She was in her element. We stayed several hours going to the Cracker Barrel to eat. I brown bagged my beer.






Monday 7 May

Syd & June relax at Knoxville Airport before their return flight to Britain.

Syd & June relax at Knoxville Airport
before their return flight to Britain.

Finished packing and sadly it was our last sit out in tranquility, peace and the wonders of the Tennessee mountains. Off to the Airport and home. No problems at all. Knoxville Airport, the only one we have ever seen with rocking chairs for the comfort of passengers in the departure lounge. How tranquil. The cabin crew were a different breed. They were kind and attentive and really looked after us. I guess the other crew must have been suffering from PMT or some other ladies complaint. Arriving home at Manchester was as stressless as usual. Our taxi was waiting and we were home within 90 minutes. We had no regrets on cutting our holiday short at Nashville, except we missed some friends.




Don't miss Syd & June Burn's many other adventures:

Amsterdam Weekend '07

Springtime in London '07

Weekend in London '07

New Zealand Part I

New Zealand Part II

Barcelona '06

Palma Mallorca


East Coast Of America (Boston to Richmond and return)

Chicago and Las Vegas

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