What happens in Tennessee stays in the photo available in the gift shop at the end of the tour

Time flies when you’re not blogging. Last I checked, it was Christmastime, and now spring break has come and gone.

For spring break we piled into the minivan and headed south. We’d heard rumors of warmer weather and interesting attractions in Tennessee, and since it was within our spur-of-the-moment traveling range, why not?

Well, traffic for one thing. Every school district north of Kentucky had spring break the same week. I’ve never been in so many traffic jams in open country. I felt sorry for the families continuing to Florida during this temporary Midwestern diaspora.

Knoxville was a trip down a 30-year-old memory lane to the one semester I spent at the University of Tennessee before I became a graduate school dropout. UT does not seem to have suffered from our breakup. It remembered less of me than I did of it.

In Chattanooga, we played all over Lookout Mountain, taking the Incline Railway trolley up and down, then crisscrossing the mountain by car. We strayed momentarily into Georgia. Buster and Big Man had never been to Georgia, and since they didn’t leave the car, we debated if it counted. They never actually set foot there, but they did break the plane of Georgia, which counts in football. Since Georgia is a big football state, we’re counting it.

Pigeon Forge is an Appalachian Vegas, if you replace the casinos with moonshine and go-carts. We arrived with three intentions: Dollywood, Alpine Slide, and Titanic Museum (why there is an ocean disaster museum in the Smokey Mountains I’ll let you ponder). We did none of them. We got too distracted by other things, and the Alpine Slide was closed by high winds and a forest fire.

Still, we had fun discovering other adventures. We even spent hours visiting a bird sanctuary, which, Alfred Hitchcock notwithstanding, was not as horrible as it sounds. The boys loved it.

The kids decided they wanted to move to Tennessee. My wife was almost on board with them, but she didn’t see enough Target stores; when she drives too far without seeing Target, she starts to hear dueling banjos in her head. From there it’s a short mental leap to a Deliverance/The Hills Have Eyes situation.

It was not all fun and games. The minivan got progressively louder in the water pump area as the days passed. I grew apprehensive about the 500-mile trip home. During the drive back, I kept one eye on the road and one eye on the temperature gauge. She didn’t sound healthy, but our sick car soldiered through, delivering us safely, despite her nasty cough.

Now, $800 later, she’s sounds good as new, almost. Add that to the cost of vacation. It kind of makes me wish we didn’t buy a family photo at every ride and sideshow we visited. Oh well, those family photos will be a minute of pleasure when we stumble across them in basement shoe boxes every 15 years or so. So I guess that’s worth it.


16 comments on “What happens in Tennessee stays in the photo available in the gift shop at the end of the tour

  1. Olivia says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. CrankyPants says:

    You never cease to make me laugh with your posts. I’m glad you survived your holiday and sorry your wife didn’t see enough Target stores.
    I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to your next escape with vigor. Lol
    For now may a stiff drink would make for cheaper getaway?

  3. Just Joan says:

    Sounds like a blast! In my opinion, Buster and Big Man were “in” Georgia whether their feet touched the soil or not. I tell people I’ve been to Japan, even though I was only there 45 minutes, during a layover in the airport. Sorry you wasted your hard-earned money on Ruby Falls… if memory serves, there are about twenty billboards along I-75 telling you not to miss it. Praise God your car made it home. My parents took us to West Virginia when we were little. (What craziness possesses two sensible parents to travel with four kids under the age of ten?) Anyhow, the Buick’s transmission went out and we spent all our vacation money and the next three days on a bench at the ABC Garage, all four of us swinging our legs and asking if the car was done yet. Dad probably blew his last three bucks on a bottle of Excedrin. Glad to see you back, Snoozin.

    • Sorry your WV trip got ruined. Some of these cars just aren’t ready for the mountains. Ruby Falls wasn’t bad, but my favorite part of our trip was getting chased by zombies and hearing my super-cool, bass-voiced, teenaged son scream like a three year old girl.

  4. Just Joan says:

    Bet that scream made the whole trip worth it. Ummm, why were you being chased by Zombies? Is that a THING down there, like corny mazes in Ohio?

  5. Swinged Cat says:

    Well, they were IN Tennessee. Just not ON Tennessee. That counts.

  6. Cherryl says:

    Glad you enjoyed your family trip ✨

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