Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Road Trip Days 3-4: Great Smoky to Knoxville

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Blue Ridge Parkway ends up at Great Smoky Mountain National Park, another lovely part of the Appalachians that you can zoom right through to get from North Carolina to Tennessee. And, following a token stop at a North Carolinian barbecue place (Sledgehammer Charlie’s; perfectly fine ribs, but nothing to write home about at $20 for a rack), that’s just what we did. Unfortunately it was night by the time we got there, and we were rather late for dinner with a friend-to-be, so we didn’t have a chance see the sights this time around. Nevertheless, climbing those dark mountain roads did instill a sense of natural tranquility, leaving us utterly unprepared for what awaited us on the other side.

I’d been told that penetrating the mountains between Arizona and Nevada would yield a glorious view of the Las Vegas lights, but I didn’t expect anything of the sort when entering Tennessee. Reality, however, paid no heed to my expectations and promptly offered Pigeon Forge, the strangest town I’ve seen in America (or anywhere).

Look to your left: a multi-level go-kart track.

Look to your right: a neon-lit arcade.

Look anywhere and you’ll find some kind of outré entertainment or vendor. Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride, Extreme Lazer Tag, Mellow Mushroom Pizza, Mine Your Own Gemstones… the list goes on and on. Driving through that place was downright surreal. Alas, we were late for our dinner date, so we didn’t have any time to stop and experience the madness. The impression was lasting, however, and after our delicious pizza dinner with Meghan, we decided to spend another day in Knoxville to check the place out, and to visit Great Smoky Mountain in the day.

After a visit to the International House of Pancakes (good pancakes, bad syrups, not that cheap… and are they really international?), we followed Meghan’s recommendation on where to go in the National Park, to great success. I don’t remember what the route was called, but just like the other drives in the Appalachians, it was gorgeous. Some people might argue that you can take too many pictures of forest canopies, but I don’t agree. Thus, I present to you: pictures of trees.

But wait, it isn’t just trees! I further present to you: pictures of horses. Well, just one horse really; being the prettiest blonde around has its privileges.

And here’s one of my favorite photos from the trip, though I sorely wish I’d used a much faster shutter speed to reduce the exposure.

On our way back from Smoky we stopped in Pigeon Forge again. The experience wasn’t nearly the same by the light of day, but we did catch a decent game of laser tag. Plus, on the way back to Knoxville, we dropped by this monstrosity to get a souvenir for our generous host.

I doubt it's really the world's largest...

 

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Written by Martin

2010/11/21 at 17:00

Posted in Uncategorized

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