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!