Trips to Gatlinburg are never NOT fun. Even if you've extensively toured the admittedly small downtown area multiple times, it's always worth going back to see what's new.

As for me and mine? When we go to Gatlinburg, we like to explore the mountains, including, of course, Clingman's Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. Now, I haven't been to the top of Clingman's Dome; I don't have the knees for it. But I've been close and it's always so weird to be at the FOOT of that final steep incline to the top and see all those dead trees and hardly any sound at all. Even the birds don't get up that far, I guess.

But once we're done with the "mountain hopping" and we've worked up an appetite, it's time to come back into town and feast on, well, PANCAKES.

And, why, you ask, would we do that? Well, first, if you have to ask why I even mentioned pancakes, you've never been to Gatlinburg.

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It never ceases to amaze me that such a small town can have SO MANY pancake restaurants.

Now, I understand why there would be lots of barbecue restaurants in, say...oh, I don't know...OWENSBORO. We're the BBQ Capitol of the World.

I get why Omaha might corner the market on steakhouses. Lobster joints in Maine, Tex/Mex or just plain Mexican places in the southwest. Got it.

But why pancakes in Gatlinburg?

Well, it seems I'm not the only one who wonders about this. And it's been asked enough that the marketing representative for Flapjack's Pancake Cabin weighed in with a theory.

Speaking with Smoky Mountain Living Magazine, Amy Morton said:

“We feel that the popularity of pancake houses in this area stems from the simple fact that Southerners have a tradition of enjoying a delicious hearty breakfast."

Okay, I guess I can buy that, as a general explanation. (Personally, I like MY hearty breakfast to centered around biscuits and gravy. Call me crazy.)

But I wanted more and I think I found more in a chat section at TripAdvisor.com. When the question, "What's up with the pancakes?" was posed, one contributor, having seen  pancake and waffle places in other mountainous vacation areas, explained that it could be because of lumberjacks and the fact that pancakes wouldn't weigh as heavily as a more hearty breakfast would. (Personally, I think pancakes DO weigh heavily.)

And, after further searches, I think that's about the best I'm going to get. But, I'll tell you, that second explanation sounds like a keeper to me.

Now...I just have one problem.

I'm a waffle guy. Oops.

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