Tuesday, June 30, 2009

China Day 5

**My blogs for China days 1-5 were posted by my sister who was able to access Blogger.com. China for some reason blocks that site, and so the blogs were copied and pasted from my Facebook Notes.**

Yesterday was our fifth day here in China. We left Guangzhou yesterday morning and flew up to Beijing. We were so happy to just get out of Guangzhou. The minute we got into Beijing our spirits lifted. Our friend Harry helped us get a cab and he told the cab driver where our hotel was, and then we were on our way. Rob and I were just blown away at the architecture here in Beijing. Modern and historical buildings all smashed in together.

Our hotel is directly downtown in the center of everything!! We are staying at a Hilton Hotel that was built for the 2008 Summer Games. The hotel is super super nice...and people speak very good English here. We got checked in and hung out at the hotel for about an hour just to relax.

We then walked over to a mall which happens to be 6 stories!! I was hungry and we found a McDonald's to eat at. Yes...you may all laugh but it is kind of a tradition for us to eat at McDonald's when we are traveling abroad. I have ate at McDonald's in Ireland, Germany, and now China. Each place has a little bit different stuff. So it is kind of cool.

After eating...we walked through the mall to an outside mall which is right next door. well it is more of a pedestrian walkway that is lined with tons and tons of shopping. we walked through a Foreign Language Bookstore, and so they had all types of books in English and other languages. We were trying to find the exit and the exit happen to place us into another store next door. Well that store was kind of a trap...but we found some amazing items in there to bring back to the states for us. it was hard to get out of there only due to buying one thing then they wanted us to come look at something else...and so on. plus every 100RMB that you spent you got 9RMB for free. So with our first purchase we got 36RMB for free. We were able to find another item...and then they wanted us to look at something else. Rob and I were both just wanting to get out of there...and so we told the person that we would come back tomorrow. Well then they stepped up their sales pitch...but we were able to get out of the store. We got out and looked at each other and said, "what the heck did we get into?!" we looked up at the store name and it said something about a Supermarket. well from what an American thinks of what a supermarket is...this was not one of those that had food. it was a supermarket that had anything you can think of for chinese clothing, table cloths, and so on. it was crazy! we then went and found a couple cokes to drink as it is very very warm up here in Beijing. we walked down more of the shopping area...just to see what was there. we then went back to the hotel and just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Day 6 will consist of The Forbidden City and more site seeing. Day 7 will be more site seeing and an evening spent at the famous Peking Opera. I am very excited. Day 8 will be our travel home back to the states. I am hoping to type out a note later tonight about day 6.

China Day 4

Sunday was a pretty boring day in most people's eyes. Rob and I didn't do a whole lot. We slept late and just hung out in the hotel room. around 2pm we went downstairs to find some lunch. ended up having some more of the nothern boiled dumplings. they were pretty good again. we then went and looked through a few of the clothing shops. rob had thought about getting a new polo but decided against it as when we did the conversion rate....the little store wanted close to $300 for a cotton polo!!! so we just went back up to the hotel room and hung out. i spent part of the day uploading pictures from the camera and getting them all labeled and placed in my picasa album. if you have not seen the pictures, go to http://picasaweb.google.com/lilmomma13104/ChinaTrip?feat=directlink. those are the pictures so far from our trip.

i ended up falling asleep around probably 4pm-5pm. rob asked if i was jet lagged...and i said that i just felt tired. didn't think it was jet lagg. well now i look at the clock and i am wide awake here at almost 5am. haha. well i may be awake because i fell asleep so early, too. so we will see. we leave for beijing in just six short hours. i am very excited. in beijing we will be staying at the hilton hotel that is located about a 10 minute walk from Tienanmen Square. I looked on tripadvisor.com and this hotel is very highly rated as it was built just in time for the summer games last summer. everyone says that all of the staff speaks very good english and there is lots of shopping and places to eat near by. so that will be nice. we are just looking forward to leaving guangzhou.

rob and i were talking about if we would come back to this conference next year...and right now the answer is "probably not". we both have said that if the conference would have set up the non-chinese guests up in a hotel that had staff that spoke english...this trip would have been alot more enjoyable. we did meet a couple other people who were not chinese on this trip. a few of the guys were from india. i told rob that i miss hearing the indian accent up in the area of CT that we live. It makes me miss our friend Sidd who is a professor down in in Baltimore area.

well off to start the day...as I can not sleep and we have to leave for the airport in about 3 hours. My next note will hopefully be sent from Beijing. :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

China - Day 3

**My blogs for China days 1-5 were posted by my sister who was able to access Blogger.com. China for some reason blocks that site, and so the blogs were copied and pasted from my Facebook Notes.**

Today was a very long day. I felt as if it was never going to end. we woke up early and headed down to breakfast before we were suppose to leave for the conference. Today the conference was being held at Sun-Yat Sen University. We all boarded a bus which took us over to the university, with of course getting lost along the way. Rob and I laughed and said, 'is this really happening?'.

The conference was pretty much all day. There was a keynote speaker from Southern Florida who spoke on Design Science for Information Systems. Basically it is a way how to organize your research into a paper. Rob told me that his advisor at Arizona thinks that Design Science is a load of crap, so Rob was not too interested in the speaker. He knew who the guy was though as he has had to send emails to him when he was at Arizona.

Let me tell you that there are two different types of research in the Information Systems field. 1) Behavioral, 2) Technical. Rob's type of research and way of thinking is on the technical side due to the fact that he actually does the experiments to prove that the hypothesis works. Where as the Behavioral side is more of the way of "well i think x+y=z" but yet never proves that it actually works. Rob gets frustrated because the two are very different and that the top tiered journals that Rob would love to publish in are all Behavioral. He said that his papers get rejected every time due to them not understanding what Rob is talking about.

The first session of presentations was after the keynote speaker. Rob presented in the first session. He was the second one out of his group (the conference broke up into two different rooms). The first guy who presented had very poor English and was very hard to understand. he read straight from the slide and read every formula that was presented on the PowerPoint slide. It was brutal.

Rob then got up there and pretty much blew everyone out of way. He, of course, had one of the expert type of facilitator for his presentation and was asked some pretty hard questions. The presentation on his stock analysis was pretty good. Interesting...even though it was a bit over my head. The third presentation was on websites and the different websites that different classes of people go to. for example the older generation tended to use pogo.com for a longer time compared to people who were btwn 18-29 years old. I asked where Myspace or even Facebook would fit into their research as both old and young people use Facebook. the answer i got from the presenter was, "well this paper was written back in 2004 when Facebook and Myspace were not widely used." They never really answered the question completely.

After that we took a short walk over to lunch at a very good seafood place. It was traditional Chinese style where all dishes were placed on a Lazy Susan and you just picked what you wanted for your own plate. I tried deep friend oysters, duck, some type of beef meal, a steamed bun which had a pork onion filling, some type of fish, and something else. No rice served at lunch.

Then it was back to the university for the second half of the sessions. One of the presentations we sat in on was spoken all in mandarin. I was pretty bored as both presentations were not that good to listen to.

Around 6pm we headed over take a river boat cruise. once again the bus driver got lost and had started out going the wrong way. the dinner cruise was OK, i guess. i think i was more tired than anything and just wanted to be back at the hotel room. it was another Chinese buffet.

On the way back to the hotel the bus driver really got lost and about 5 other Chinese people were helping the bus driver to get back to the hotel. rob and i both looked at each other and said, "i am so done with Asia!! i have no desire to come back anytime soon." We are both hoping that Beijing will be a lot nicer. i am looking forward to leaving this place on Monday and head to Beijing.

tomorrow...we are not too sure what we will do. we may just hang out here at the hotel. guangzhou is not very friendly for foreigners, like beijing is. rob calls this down here "backwoods china" where not a whole lot of people will help you understand the language. their mentality is, "why are you here? you are different compared to me." tomorrow is the second day of the conference but Rob said that there are no presentations that sound interesting for him. so we will see what tomorrow holds.

China - Day 2

**My blogs for China days 1-5 were posted by my sister who was able to access Blogger.com. China for some reason blocks that site, and so the blogs were copied and pasted from my Facebook Notes.**

Yesterday was pretty uneventful...which was good, since we had a hectic day before. We pretty much stayed at the hotel for most of the day. Didn't want to venture out too far and end up getting lost.

We found lunch downstairs at one of the restaurants. The menu was mainly in Mandarin (one of the main languages in china), but had pictures and some English to say what was what. I saw some different types of chicken, goat, eel, snake, shark, goose liver, shrimp, to name a few. Rob and I decided on pork dumplings, white rice, and some type of vegetable that looked like either Chinese Broccoli or Kale. The meal also came with tea. The dumplings were very good.

We did venture out of the hotel hoping to find a bank...but had no luck. We had wanted to change money over to Chinese RMB, but could not find where the bank was located. One of the girls in the hotel said it was close by.

The weather is very hot and muggy. Think summertime in Florida...and you will get the idea on what it feels like here.

Dinner was at the conference reception located up on top of the hotel in a French restaurant. Dinner was more of a Chinese buffet. Rob and I did manage to find a few things to eat, as nothing was labeled in English.

Yesterday afternoon we figured out how to turn the tv on (it had a cable box which would turn on but the actual TV would not at first). We were able to find a few channels that were in English...but it was pretty funny to watch.

Our friend Harry stopped by our hotel room last night to check in on us. He had just arrived from Hong Kong. He was in Hong Kong for a couple of days before the conference, as he was visiting friends who live there now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

China - Day 1

**My blogs for China days 1-5 were posted by my sister who was able to access Blogger.com. China for some reason blocks that site, and so the blogs were copied and pasted from my Facebook Notes.**

Our Flights yesterday were pretty uneventful...which is a good thing. Rob and I were close to the front of the plane well in the economy section that is. Our flight from JFK to Beijing (PEK) was 14 hours!! I have been on a 7 or 8 hour flight...so this was quite a bit longer. We were served a dinner about an hour after we got up to cruising altitude. We had the choice of Kung Pow Chicken or Eggplant Chicken. Rob and I both chose the Kung Pow Chicken. It did have a little bit of a kick to it. It came with a little bit of white rice along with steamed broccoli and carrots. Plus we were offered a fruit plate which had watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew mellon. Then there was a roll with butter, a small salad with 1000 island dressing. We were served a drink as well. After dinner they cleared items away and left us alone for awhile. We had Satan's child sitting behind us who kept kicking the back of our seats, and throwing tantrums through out the flight. I was ready to strangle him by the time we landed. We had someone sit next to us by the window. Rob called him 'Ted'. He was nice and was going back to Tibet for a visit. He grew up in a small village and has lived in the US for about 4 or 5 years. His english was hard to understand, but I was able to get most of it. The flight did get a little bumpy...but I tried not to think about it. Body of Lies, Hancock, and Tinkerbell were the three movies shown on the 747 airplane. Halfway through the flight the flight attendants passed out a ham sandwich. Rob said that they were very good. I was too tired to eat and so I think he ended up eating my sandwich as well. then towards the end of the flight we were served yet another dinner. This time we had the choice of Beef & Noodles or Seafood and Rice. I chose the seafood...only so that i could eat the rice. i was not super hungry but needed to eat something. the seafood was shrimp with some type of dark sauce. This also came with a buttered roll, pineapple shortcake, and some type of cole slaw. Rob didn't eat this meal as he was not hungry.

Once we landed in China we were not allowed to get off the plane right away, like in Europe or the United States. They had government officials come on wearing goggles and face masks, and took everyone's temperature. if they suspected you to be running a fever they would have called an ambulance to inspect if you had a flu. in the meantime the other passengers of the plane would have been quarantined at a near by hotel. We were fortunate enough to not have anyone on the flight who was running a fever, so they made an announcement that we were able to disembark the aircraft. Rob and I had a very tight connection there in Beijing. How tight? 2 hours! 2 hours in the US is plenty of time...but not on an international flight. We walked through to the customs checkpoint where they examined our health inspection paperwork and handed it back to us. they also had a device that checked one's temperature as they were walking up to the checkpoint. Note...this building did not have A/C on...so it was already hot inside the building. After going through 3 or 4 checkpoints, we were told to go pick up our luggage. This took forever only because our bags were one of the last to be unloaded from the aircraft. once we got our bags we went over and dropped them off to be transferred over to the domestic flight. We once again had to go through another security checkpoint. In Beijing they did not make us take off our shoes like we do in the US. They checked our bags a couple of times though. After this we walked pretty fast over to our gate. When we got to the gate, they were already boarding. Rob and I looked at each other and said, "ya...you can make it in 2 hours...but it is not fun!" our second flight was another 3 hours long. by the time we touched down in Guangzhou it was 11pm (china time) but it felt like 11am NYC time. We went and picked up our bags once again and went to find the arranged taxi service that rob had picked out. well we looked and looked and could not find the person. rob called the phone number and they said they had a confirmation for july 25th, not june 25th. So we had to go and find a different taxi service to take us over to our hotel.

the taxi ride to the hotel was another experience. i was fearing for my life the whole time. this guy was driving nuts!! cutting people off with very little space...going super fast on sharp corners. it was nuts! he dropped us off...and realized it was not the correct place, but only to find out that we were at the backdoor of the hotel. so he drove us around to the front. by now it is 12:30am. Rob and i walked up to the check-in desk and the attendants could not find our reservation. they kept saying, "sorry we do not have any rooms." now rob and i had joked that something like this would happen. not funny when it is really happening. the clerks made several different phone numbers and FINALLY was able to get a hold of someone who knew what was going on. what we think happened was that the organizer had place a block of rooms just for the CSWIM Conference under his name rather than the conference name. Finally at 1:30am or so we were finally making our way up to the 13th floor to our hotel room. the beds are super hard...but i didn't really care as I was just glad to be in the room. If I had been 9 months pregnant...i would have really felt like Joseph and Mary in bethleham. lol oye!!! rob and i were on the verge of tears by the end of everything. the clerks kept trying to tell us to walk down to this other hotel, but we were not about to leave this hotel at 1am! no way!!

we woke up this morning feeling a bit refreshed. we ate lunch here at the hotel restaurant. We had dumplings. I think they were pork dumplings. along with it we had white rice, and i think kale. for the two of us lunch came out to be 85 RMB which is about $11 for the two of us. not bad at all! Tonight is dinner with the other conference people. tomorrow will be spent at Sun Yat-Sen University which is where the conference is being held for tomorrow. Tomorrow evening will be a river dinner cruise down the Pearl River. I am looking forward to that. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The joys of airplane travel...

Since Rob and I travel a lot, we have seen a lot of funny things in the airport or even airplane. Thought I would share some of the recent incidents that occurred while trying to come home from Knoxville this weekend.

I do mind if the customer service rep wants to help people along in the check-in line but i sometimes feel as if helping too much actually slows people down rather than speeds them up. This happened at the Knoxville Airport. Then we were standing in line at the security check. I noticed how slow the line was moving and wondered why. When I got up a little bit closer I noticed that everyone was just using one side of the security check. Rob and I decided to take advantage of the other side where not many people were going. It is funny how people will just assume to follow the person in front of them. After getting through security we headed down to our departure gate. Knoxville is a pretty small airport with a total of 18 gates. *laugh...because I know you want to.* There was a flight trying to board when we first got there and so we ended up sitting in one gate over due to having more seats. I notice this odd fellow come down to where we were as well. When traveling, I tend to be a little bit more observant of people around me. I watched this fellow in the wheelchair and he went over to the gate where there was a ticket agent. He asked her if she was working that gate and she said, "no." He then proceeded to ask her if he could leave his crutches there at the podium. She told him that she was unable to do that due to having to keep all of the area free. He asked if she could put the crutches along the wall and she gave him the same response. After being turned down twice he turned and saw Rob and myself sitting minding our own business. I knew he would come over...but I was hoping he wouldn't. Well sure enough he wheeled himself over and said to Rob, "Yo dude." I had to nudge Rob as he was fully not paying attention. Rob asked what he needed and the guy said to him, "Are you going to be here for awhile? If so, can you watch my crutches for me?" Rob being a nice guy said, "Uh...ok." I on the other hand thinking in my head, "heck no...i am not about to watch someone else's stuff." So the crutches were placed underneath the bench. The wierd fellow asked Rob, "Hey...are you going to Cincinnati?" Rob said, "No...going to Atlanta." The guy said to Rob, "oh ya...right. have a nice flight." He then proceded to turn around and wheeled off. After the guy left, Rob and I looked at each other and said, "that is wierd!" We figured the guy had to go do something really quick and then would be back. Well it was about time for us to board our own plane and the guy was not back yet. I told Rob, "I am not about to watch these crutches...as TSA says to not watch someone's bag or belongings." We then see the guy coming and we are already waiting in line for our flight. The gate agent says it will be just a few minutes before the rest of us can board because they have to put a wheelchair person on. So yes...we ended up having the wierd guy on our flight with his crutches. *sigh*

Next...we are now waiting on our first flight to get ready to depart. the guy who was sitting infront of rob just seemed a bit wierd, too. this guy sat down for a few minutes and then got up to move his bag from the over head storage to a different spot. He moved it to a different spot sat down and got up and moved it now to yet another spot. I was already paranoid from the whole crutch guy that now I have someone moving a bag around. Then a lady comes on and claims that someone is sitting in her seat. Now mind you...this first flight from Knoxville to Atlanta is only 25 minutes! The flight attendant asks the gentlemen if that was his seat and he said, "no...I am suppose to sit up there *pointing three rows in front of him*, but i felt like sitting here instead." So the flight attendent asks the other guy where he is suppose to be sitting and it was several rows behind him. The poor flight attendant **one who was a rookie and read everything out of the training book** asked the lady if she could just sit in this empty seat so that we can get pushed back for departure. By this time I am about crying, because I am laughing so hard. I mean really...who says, "hmm....i have seat 14D but i think i will sit in 18A...no one will care!" really?! really?! yes...it really did happen! We finally get pushed back and are gearing up speed down the runway...now I hear something beeping and I think it is coming from that wierd lilac bag that the wierd guy sitting infront of Rob has. I am pretty sure it was one of those travel alarm clocks or a stop watch thing...but it was freaking me out! it would go beep, beep, beep, and then a long pause for a few a minute and then go again. We did make it to Atlanta in piece.

Our second flight headed from Atlanta to Hartford was a little bit less comical, except for "Bag lady". The gate agent had called all zones (delta boards by zones) to board the plane. Rob and I got in line, but this "Bag lady" was on a mission to cut anyone off who was in her way of boarding the plane. I really didn't see anyone coming and she used her elbow, bag and anything else to get in front of me. I just stood there in shock. Rob's first response to what had just happened was, "Yup...this plane is headed to the northeast!" I took a breath and let it out slowly, looked at Rob and said "Are you sure we can not stay in the deep south where everyone is so friendly?" The lady gave us dirty looks...but I didn't really care. She should not have been so rude and have to cut me off. I just kept saying, "Unbelievable! I can not believe people are just so rude!" Well she got her payback...as there was a screaming child on the plane...and this child happened to be sitting just across the walkway from her. Ha!! So to all of you who like to cut people off in line...something will always come back to bite you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Birthday Trip

For my 29th birthday, Rob surprised me and asked me if I would like to go down to Eastern Tennessee, rather than going through with my own plans of going down to NYC for the day for an art exhibition and an afternoon spent in Central Park. I decided that his plans sounded a little bit more fun, as I had never been to Tennessee. Thursday though I started feeling pretty ill with some kind of flu/cold stuff going on. By Saturday morning, I was really feeling like crud but where we had already booked the plane tickets, I just had to make it work. The alarm went off Saturday morning at 2am. Yes, it was very early as our flight left at 10 minutes till 6am. We live about an hour and a half drive from the airport, so you can see why we had to get up at 2am and leave by 3am. Once we were all checked in, we stopped at the McDonald's there inside security and I had my birthday breakfast. We had to change plans in Cincinnati, OH for our little puddle jumper flight down to Knoxville, TN. Once landed in TN we went down to pick up our rental car. The Avis lady tried to upsell us to the 2009 Chevy Camero. As tempting as it was we chose to stay with the car that we had originally booked, which was a 2009 Ford Focus. Cute little car...but nothing that I would own as my next car. After getting in the car we headed down to Pigeon Forge, TN, which is about an hour from Knoxville. We were staying in Seiverville, TN which is next to PF. Since we landed at 10am it was too early to be checking into the hotel. Rob thought we would drive up through the Smokey Mountains and head on up to Clingman's Dome. Clingman's Dome is the 2nd highest point on the eastern seaboard. Mt. Washington is the first which I believe is in New Hampshire. Before heading up to CD we stopped in PF for my birthday lunch at SONIC. After eating lunch we stopped in Gatlinburg which I guess use to be a little cute village tucked away in the Smokey Mountains. Now it is a tourist trap with nowhere to park. We did find a spot to park and we walked into some of the little shops. I had forgot to pack one of my ballcaps and so I was in need of a hat to help shield my face from the sun. I found a sun straw hat in one of the shops for a very reasonable price! After a few more shops we got back in the car and headed up to CD. CD is a very steep climb, for only being half of a mile. If one makes it to the top they will be able to see 7 different states on a clear day. Saturday, however, was not a clear day. We hiked all the way up even though I thought dieing would be easier as I was still feeling pretty cruddy from whatever I had. We reached the top and I said, "this is it?" I was clearly not impressed and didn't see the beauty in what i should be seeing. All i could think about was how crappy i felt, how tired i was, and how much i now needed to pee. so we hiked back down to find the restroom. We then headed back to the car to go find our hotel. Our hotel was off the beaten path which was nice as we were away from all of the busy touristy stuff that is in Pigeon Forge and Sieverville. Once checked in I put myself to bed for an hour or so. I needed to rest. Waking up from my nap I felt even worse. When Rob asked me what I wanted to do for dinner I really considered just calling Domino's and asking for a pizza. For those of you who know me, know that I really do not like Domino's Pizza. So after great debate on where we were going to go for my birthday dinner, I told rob for us to just get in the car, find the first fast food restraunt and call it dinner. He could not believe that he was hearing that from me on my own birthday. I told him that if i really got to choose i would have skipped dinner all together and stayed in bed until morning. We ended up at McDonald's. Some dinner meal on my birthday huh? It was my idea to stop there. After dinner we went back to the hotel, I took a shower, and finally took some cold medicine. i finally started to feel better.

Sunday morning we woke up and had breakfast downstairs at the continental breakfast there at the La Quinta. I was feeling actually pretty good Sunday morning, and had a feeling it was going to be a good day. After eating we headed out to Dollywood! Dollywood is the Dolly Parton's theme park. I have always wanted to go there and Rob had been there several times. We found parking and took the tram down to the front gates. Dolly's logo for Dollywood is a butterfly, so you see butterfly things all over the place. I found it very cute. I almost felt at home there at Dollywood. Wierd...I know, but that is how I felt. We walked around for a bit, found some shops to go into and took a steam engine ride around the whole theme park. We then went and found lunch at Grandma Ogle's restaurant which Rob has to eat at every time he visits the park. The food was good, but I am sure if I was feeling 100% I would have liked it more. During lunch we listened to the country music show that was going on next door. After lunch we headed over to a Birds of Prey type of show. The show had owls, hawks, vultures, and then an eagle. After that show we booked it across the theme park to another show which was called, "Dolly's Family Reunion." This was a music show with Dolly's friends and even some family that was going to perform some of Dolly's hits. I loved loved that show!!! A few of Dolly's uncles and cousins were there and all performed. It was just awesome. Dolly's first cousin sang, "I will always love you". This song has always held a special place in my heart as a song that represents how I feel about Kaylee. Since I was already feeling a bit emotional, the song just opened the tear gates. I sat there and just wiped my eyes and enjoyed the moment. After the show I was able to go up and meet Dolly's first cousin. I got to get a picture taken with her. As we were walking away, Rob said, "You probably didn't notice, but you made her cry while she was singing and had to turn away after the song to wipe hear eyes." After that we walked more around the park to the little areas. Dollywood has different themed areas kind of like any of the Disney parks...but not so much that you are totally changing into a different world. Dollywood areas seem to just blend all together, which is what I really liked. There is one area though that is set up in the 50s. We noticed that there was a quartet show just starting and so we stepped in to see the show. It felt nice to be sitting in a dark and very cool A/C. This quartet was called Kingdom Heirs, and was one of the top TN Gospel Quartets! They sang manly older style music that you would hear maybe in the "Traditional" service of any church. Boy were they good. I was just amazed! After the concert we headed down the road a little bit and found that we could tour Dolly's tour bus. This was her last tour bus. She now has a bus that is about twice as big and is a little bit more homey. Dolly rarely ever flies and tends to be on the bus more than any other music artist. She loves to cook for her crew and so the new bus had to be equipped with a little bit more adequet stuff. Once we were done with looking inside the bus we headed over for one more show before headed home. This show was called Sho-Kan-a-hey. It was a short little stage musical about a family who had to move west but didn't want to. The title of the musical is Cherokee for "Blue Smoke" which is what the clouds look like around the mountains. Hence the reason they are named Smokey Mountains. The show was cute, geared a little bit more for families with younger kids. After that we headed out to do some last minute shopping at the gift shop before heading to the car. All in all I had a great time at Dollywood and can not wait until I can get back there. Hopefully next time I will be feeling 100% better and want to ride some of the rides! We found dinner at a BBQ place which on the sign said that they had the best ribs in town. Eh...I do not know about having the "best" but they were good. I have had better, for sure. We then stopped at one of the run-down tshirt shops. The reason why I bring this up is because, Rob said growing up and being down here all he would see were crappy little tshirt open air shops, and each shop had the same stuff as the last. We went and played a round of mini-golf before heading back to the hotel for the night. All-in all, I had a great day.

Monday, we woke up and got things packed up. I woke up feeling like poo again. I think I may have over done it the day before, since I felt so good. I tried taking some medicine but for some reason it just was not helping anything thing time around. We walked through the world's largest "As Seen on Tv Store". I was so not impressed, but yet again I was just really wanting to sit and rest. We then stopped at a huge Christmas store that had anything you can think of in christmas items. After that we took a drive over to Cherokee, NC as I just wanted to sit and do nothing. I had no energy to walk around and/or deal with the heat and humidity. Cherokee is a little Indian Reservation town. Looked like a run-down type of place, and I was definately not impressed. After that we decided it was time to head back up to Knoxville and out to the airport. Once we got to the airport and checked in, I realized that I had an ear infection (my ear finally hurt enough for me to realize). So, I was happy we were headed home so that I could go to the doctor on Tuesday to get some medicine.

A quick birthday trip...and it was overall fun. I wished that I could have felt normal, so that I could have enjoyed it more...but hey....not much you can do!
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