Well, there is the water, and caves and horses to ride…

Roadtrip I ‘m in a bit of a quandry. Help me out here.

My mom (one of them anyway) lives in Tennessee, in a tiny little town called Walland. It’s just on the other side of the mountains from Pigeon Forge and Dollywood and all of that tourist greatness.

She also lives right on Little River. In fact, I can wade right into the river from her back yard.

All of this adds up to a whole lotta reasons why I should go see her…more often. Except that it’s a 3.5 hour drive from Roswell and the drive isn’t especially kid-friendly. We’ve only been up there once this year, and that was in the spring, so we’re really due to go back up.

CareerMom is in New York this week on Thursday and coming back Friday afternoon and we’ve discussed my taking MLI and heading up to see my mom, leaving CareerMom and MLE at home. What really shouldn’t be that tough of a decision, is laden with choices:


  • Getting a break from the constant attention needs of MLE (who is a HUGE daddy’s boy!)
  • Getting to spend some quality time with MLI playing in the river and drinking too much soda pop (what an “old” phrase) on the road trip
  • Seeing my mom
  • CareerMom suspects she left her glasses there last time and without them at night after she takes her contacts off, she can’t see much of anything. I could verify whether or not this is true and potentiall retrieve said glasses, thus potentially saving CareerMom loads on a new pair!


  • The price of gas
  • The 7 hours of drive-time
  • My mom really wanting to see MLE since he’s “the baby” and arguably, quite the draw from a personality standpoint

Frankly, the price of gas isn’t THAT big a deal, but I felt I should throw it in regardless. And admittedly, a huge thing for me is that I feel guilty leaving CareerMom at home to deal with MLE by herself all weekend. At least when I’m home too, we can switch off for a few moments of sanity.

Whaddya think? Suck it up and take a road trip, or stay home and keep CareerMom sane?

The non-southerner’s guide to the south

dollywoodThough I was born in Monterey, CA, thanks to my father being in the Army, I’ve lived almost my entire life in the deep south–mostly Alabama–the place Leonard Skynard immortalized back in 1974, the year after I was born. My best friends growing up listened to country music, though I probably hunted and fished more than most of them, and I’ve driven a pickup truck pretty much since I purchased my first house and realized that you can’t tote sheetrock in a sports car (I had a 240SX).

Despite all that, I’ve never really fit the redneck profile that so many non-southerners hold so dear, thanks in no small part, to the media. And truth be told, most of the people I know from the south, aren’t like that either (that includes you DN!)

But those people do exist, as I found out on my recent trip to Dollywood.

Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge TN, which is touted as the most visited tourist attraction in the country. Pigeon Forge is also right smack dab in the middle of the Great Smokey Mountains, in the middle of Tennessee, in the middle of the south…

Do you see where I’m going here?

My mom and her husband moved to a town just outside Knoxville, TN about 14 years ago. This year, for whatever reason, they purchased season tickets to Dollywood and with those tickets came some 1/2 off tickets for guests. When we went up this past weekend, they  suggested we all head on over to Dollywood for an afternoon of fun and frivolity.

Now, anyone who knows anything about me, knows that I abhor crowds. I’m that really good looking guy standing just outside the crowd (holding a beer) at parties. I don’t do large concerts. I don’t like to sit next to people I don’t know at church. Heck, I don’t even like answering the door at home if it’s someone I don’t know. People just make me uncomfortable! Despite all this, I’ll do just about anything for my kids, and so we all drove over the mountain (literally) and went to Dollywood on Saturday.

I can now report, with great certainty, that the people that Jeff Foxworthy jokes about, do actually exist, in a-plenty and they apparently love them some Dolly Parton!

When I wasn’t squirming in shame for the aged Wal-mart rejects working the kiddie rides and saying things like, “We’d like to thank you for riding the “Lucky Ducky” and please enjoy your visit to Dollywood,” I was dodging sweaty, plus-sized, halter-top models and doing my best to stare down Bubbas determined not to deviate from their path while walking five across and taking up the whole avenue!

Don’t get me wrong, on the whole, these people are the salt of the earth. When aliens finally figure out we’re more tasty than we are smart, I’m robbing the closest gun store and heading for the hills, where I’ll slip into my best southern drawl and where me and my family will hunker down until it’s all over. But I gotta admit, the stereotype isn’t completely without merit!

So if you’re planning a trip to Dollywood anytime soon, gimme a holler. I’ll be happy to give you the lowdown on the 1/32% of the park that we saw before the kids got too hot and tired, forcing us to beat an early retreat back to our oasis on the Little River.

Oh, and for all you Tennessee fans out there: ROLL TIDE!

Beach Trip Deja vu

So my son and I are here on the outskirts of the country’s most popular destination spot—Pigeon Forge, TN. The house is a huge, three-level affair perched precariously (I’m seriously here) on the side of a mountain. The grade is so steep in fact, that halfway below the bottom floor of each house, and the ground, which falls off dramatically, is a catwalk for maintenance people to use to get to the electrical closet located in what might generously be called a basement.

At any rate, the original plan was for my family to spend the night at my mom’s house a mere 20 miles away, but since it’s only my oldest son and I, my mom made such a fuss about our staying for the night that we did. However, this meant that we got last dibs on sleeping arrangements. In this case, last dibs included the top floor, loft area consisting of two twin beds in a “we’ve been married for 15 years and no longer want to be sleeping in the same room” kind of set up. Also sharing this loft is my aunt, and my niece, and then over a half wall is a bedroom where my cousin and her husband are sleeping. So basically, there are six of us sleeping in a loft together.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that the house is made of all wood. I mean, there isn’t a stick of sheetrock anywhere. The walls are wood, the floor is wood and the ceilings are wood. What this amounts to is one giant cavernous noise funnel up to the top floor where we are all sleeping. Last night, when one of us turned over in our noisy bed, the rest of us heard it and were similarly disturbed.

Tonight, despite any arguments to the contrary, my son and I are making the twisty, turny trip over the mountain to my mom’s house where I will sleep in a queen bed, as will my son. We will walk around the house in near-nudity since we won’t have to worry about offending aunts and/or cousins, and we will not worry about snoring or tooting in our sleep, lest we offend those who might be offended.

And then tomorrow morning, we may or may not come back—perhaps opting to rather say goodbye via telephone and loiter around Townsend, TN checking out the Apple Barn and the little train museum. And then, hopefully having worn out my son, I’ll strap him in the car and we’ll hit the road on the way home.

Or, I might freeze my butt off in Gatlinburg tonight looking at the lights cuz I was too stupid to bring a coat. We’ll see.