Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Honeybee/Corbin, Kentucky

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Monday, July 5, 2021

Day 7, Part 2 - Passing Through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Plus "Idiot Tourists and/or Tourist Traps: Things NOT to Do In the Mountains" ;)


After Cherokee, we went through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way home, (doing our best to avoid Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge because of traffic).   I've got to admit, though, the traffic is for good reason, though, because when the chose the area for the actual national park for the southeastern mountain range, they chose well, because even though they don't have the big waterfalls, lakes, and rivers like in North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park area is still legitimately the most beautiful area within these mountains.  

(Stone/masonry work completed by the aforementioned CCC job corp in the 1930s, during The Great Depression.)

Mama Elk and her young buck (elk have been reintroduced to this area) 

We were able to avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main parkway in Gatlinburg, but we weren't able to avoid the parkway at Pigeon Forge on the way home (which is just before Gatlinburg). 

 Now, I love Gatlinburg because  it's where Mark and I were married - but it's become even more insane since we were last there five years ago.  Apparently, after the fire, the built more luxury cabins within 20 feet of each other, without replacing the trees :/  

I remember visiting this area as a kid and there was virtually nothing there but a ski lift, a coaster slide, Hillbilly Golf (mini golf down and around the side of a mountain, which actually IS fun), the Rocky Waters Motor Inn, some less cool other roadside motels, and a couple of overpriced tourist-traps.  You came to Gatlinburg to stay in a cabin or chalet or camp to see the mountains and the local arts and crafts; now, the chain hotels and restaurants have moved in, the cabins are right next to and on top of each other, it's bumper-to-bumper traffic, and you're shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone else just walking down the street. 

Even the bypass of Gatlinburg was crowded the closer you got to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

And no matter what we tried, we were not able to avoid Pigeon Forge (the town right before Gatlinburg, which is even tackier than Las Vegas.

And with that, we will conclude our trip with a section which I'm entitling "Idiot Tourists And/Or Tourist Traps:  Things NOT to Do In the Mountains" 

Now, I want you to look at this idiot - walking right up to the female elk to get a close-up, who is grazing in the median between roads ...

And here's the actual video of her spooking the elk.  

Hey lady - that's what your zoom lens is for?

She of course scares her, which scares me that the going to run out into the moderately heavy traffic at the visitor's center, where some idiot would hit her (but luckily, she doesn't spook that far). 

Then, as mentioned, we discovered that it was unavoidable that we had to go through similar traffic on the main strip at Pigeon Forge.

Now, I'm all for roadside kitsch, that's part of the fun of road travel. 

However, there's roadside kitsch, and then there's tacky exploitation of the Appalachian-people and tourist traps.

But because traffic was heavy and I was bored, I started filming the nonsense - and our reactions to it -  for our amusement lol. 

So without further ado, I give you the American Horror Story that is the main parkway in Pigeon Forge ... 

Allow me to demonstrate further, with our first video, in which we cannot help ourselves from exclaiming "What??? WHY?" and Mark has a - erm - strong reaction (foul language involved) when I point out the "The Trump Store" at 38 seconds lol

You can't hear us very well, up until that point, because of the wind, but you can definitely see the tacky madness of the town, even before that.  Also note that I clipped the video just after that, in the middle of the clip, for time, but it continues with our shock and horrified reactions to things, including my confused reaction to some restaurant called "Goats on the Roof."

In fact, all stores in this area advertised for Trump items, but this was the only store we saw dedicated to Trump.

I have never in my life seen any stores dedicated to any president - especially a president who talked much, but actually accomplished very little.  

To say the Trump following has become idolatry and reached cult level is an understatement.  

Next,  my reaction to a giant King Kong climbing a facade skyscraper (which Mark actually kinda liked lol) ... 

Lastly, video of the full - erm - display, including when I discovered on the back side of the King Kong building was a fake carved-fiberglass Mt. Rushmore, but instead of presidents' faces; John Wayne, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Charlie Chaplin were carved on it instead, and then the "Hatfield and McCoys Family Feud Dinner Theater" - and no, I'm not kidding.

Thus, here's a fake letter (never would I ever really send), pleading with Dolly Parton to do something LOL ;)

Dear Dolly Parton, 
I love you, you're one of my favorite people in this world - but isn't there something you can do about the tacky monstrosity that has become Pigeon Forge? lol

Unlike Dollywood, which seems for fairly tasteful, the rest of the town is just exploitative and insulting of Appalachian Culture.  

I mean, The Hatfields and the McCoys Family Feud Dinner Theater?

Why would anyone want to watch two families in a blood feud kill each other while eating dinner? 
Mark and I could stay home and watch that with our own families for free. LOL. 


And Goats on the Roof?  What does that even mean?  Because I saw no goats on any roof, anywhere, including on top of your restaurant, but God only knows what's inside - and why would anyone want to eat there, if there was? lol

And how many go-cart tracks does one small town need, anyway? lol 

Btw, I appreciate you changing the name of your "Dixie Stampede" Attraction to "Stampede" to be sensitive to people of color, but tbh, that's an attraction I wouldn't visit anyway, because I think you pandered/stooped on that one - plus I don't like to watch war and smell horse poop while I'm eating

But like I said, Dollywood seems fairly tasteful - however, I've never been, except the water park area, so I'll get back to you on that.

Again, I love ya to death, it's just ... yeah. 

And it was that point, after stopping to get something to eat (the people of Pigeon Forge are super nice, though, they gave Brookie a free chicken nugget:) -  I was stung on the leg with what I think was a yellow jacket (though I'm not 100% certain because I squealed and wave it away lol).  It didn't have the fuzzy pollinators and was black with yellow rings, but very small?

Anyway, I took a Benadryl right away (which I carried just in case) and put ice on it, because I am severely allergic to honeybee stings (I should be carrying an EpiPen, but I don't; too expensive and it's almost rare to even see a honeybee anymore) - and I'm moderately allergic to wasp stings.   

It appeared to get better after the fifth day, but then on the eighth day, I developed a  hive rash last night (July 4th).  

You can see from this morning's photo, after 8 days, the swelling, which was severe, had subsided three days ago, but the sting area is still red (red circle/bump at the top), and the hives rash near it that I developed last night ... 

But no worries -  I had a virtual visit with a doctor through my insurance this morning and was put on steroids, and a couple of antihistamines (prescription and not).  Argh.  

Bees and wasps, damn venomous little bastards lol.  I take that back, they're important for the environment.  And  I love honey.  Just don't, ya know, get near me, and I'll do the same ;)

BUT - otherwise, we had a great time? lol

No, really, we did, with only two exceptions (Blowing Rock and Pigeon Forge) - our sweeping one-week tour of the Smoky/Blue Ridge Mountain area was a success, even better than anticipated - serene, relaxing, friendly people, stunning views, and absolutely wonderful memories created we will never forget :)

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