We had chosen Gatlinburg, Tennessee as our destination because 1) it's not too far to drive, 2) it's not too expensive this time of year, 3) Kevin had his little heart set on visiting Smokey Mountain Knife Works in Pigeon Forge (the world's largest knife store, really), and 4) I hadn't stopped thinking about that scrumptiously divine baked apple pancake since Liam and I feasted at the Atrium Restaurant en route back from Kentucky. Yes, the pancake alone was worth the drive back!
So Friday morning, after getting the kids off to their respective schools, we set out for our escape... In the legal field however, one can never truly be out of the office, even when one is out of the office.
Early American lawyer Joseph Story said, "[The law] is a jealous mistress, and requires a long and constant courtship." And boy is that true; a real bitch she is too. Apparently back at the office, everyone was having a domestic emergency or some dilemma or another and chaos had ensued. Thus the attorney husband o' mine was on the phone pretty much all the way to Tennessee.
Upon arrival, we checked into our cheap, seedy hotel and lugged up all of our baggage up only to discover that the freakin' curtains would not close. You've got to be kidding me! Cheap and seedy I can deal with, but the curtains? No way! --I mean, the absolute best thing about staying in a hotel (besides not cleaning up after yourself) is that one can shut the thick, heavy curtains in the middle of a bright sunny day and nap as if it's midnight in a cave. Oh yes, and we planned on taking naps! ...So much for my thrifty savings.
The term "you get what you pay for" rang in my head as we checked into the next significantly more expensive yet much nicer hotel. As it was still early, we dumped our belongings and hopped back in the car for Pigeon Forge and the great knife metropolis. --Of course, I figured that if we went an hour or so before closing, this would alleviate my spending 3 or 4 hours wandering around bored and wanting to stab myself in the eye... that was before I realized that the entire lower level was filled with kitchen wares and fine cutlery - like the sweet German-made J.A. Henckels block set I swindled my husband into buying for "us" as a "lifetime investment."
Well, Pigeon Forge is only a short 4 miles from Gatlinburg, just minutes away on any day that's not during the Spring Grand Rod Run... Holy hell! --Just ten minutes into our drive, we found ourselves at a stand-still engulfed in a massive four-lane sea of hot rods, monster trucks, and drunk teenagers. Lining both sides of the highway were lawn chairs filled with people watching the traffic with their feet in the street. It was like Myrtle Beach Spring Break on steroids, minus the beach. WTH?
After the knife shop, it took hours to get out of Pigeon Forge. OMG.
The next morning, mistakenly thinking that the hot rod hillbillies would be sleeping off their late night festivities, we headed back to Pigeon Forge in hopes of visiting Forbidden Caverns (I love caves). Alas, traffic was backed up half-way to Gatlinburg - which we had to sit in for a half hour in order to creep up to a turn-around... Screw Pigeon Forge. We went back to our nice dark hotel room and took a nap.
For the remainder of the weekend, we stuck close to the strip filled with its Harley Davidson and NASCAR shops - surpassed in abundance only by bible stores. (Hey kids, there's even a Christ museum! No kidding.) --We braved the Ripley's Haunted House, went to the Ripley's Museum, and the Aquarium (so Kev could see the smiling sharks). We did a lot of walking and window shopping, killed a pitcher of beer, and rode the sky lift. We took naps and spoke in complete sentences for a change. And best of all, I had baked apple pancakes every morning.
I had forgotten just what a grandiose redneck wonderland the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area could be. Even having grown up rural and southern, it's still, at times, a bit of a culture shock to me. And I suppose, that is part of the beauty and charm: It's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't wanna live there.
"Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture?"