Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pigeon Forge

Since celebrating our first wedding anniversary in the Smokies, in 1969 (we were poor college students), we have always regarded Cherokee, NC, as the gold standard of world tawdriness. No more. Cherokee now has Harrah's, and the tawdriness is largely but not completely gone. Into the vacuum, however, Pigeon Forge, TN, has rushed, and is now, in our opinion, having seen much of the known world, the tawdriest 10 miles on the planet, surpassing even Kissimmee, FL. We took few pix in Pigeon Forge. There was a traffic jam, taking us an hour to pass through the ever-unbelievable route 441, and gawking at all the incredible crap, repeating itself every mile or so, prevented us from fully documenting this most tawdry of all places on Earth. We hope to return, if only to more fully document this atrocious place.

We can't decide whether the Biblical Times dinner theater or the Hatfield/McCoy Christmas Disaster was most impressive. In any case, I think this is the proper place to leave the blog for a while. We are with Marie and Norm in Knoxville, packing and planning for a couple weeks in DC at Rachel and Will's place. It will be interesting to visit our nation's capital as President-elect PussyGrabber is assembling his administration.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

After Asheville we drove into the GSMNP and camped two days, at Smokemont campground, enjoying more great weather and a couple long hikes. We'd visited the Smokies in 1969 and subsequent years while living in the east and midwest, so the usual sights were not high on our priority list.
Outside the Harrah casino in Cherokee

Blue Ridge Parkway

We continued onto the Blue Ridge Parkway November 2. The autumn color was far less intense, due presumably to drought in the area. We got off the Parkway to visit Vicki's cousin Anne in Asheville, NC.

Old logging railway

Mabry Mill

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Skyline Drive

After Gettysburg we drove on to Frederick, MD and spent a couple nights at the home of Vicki's cousin Sandee and her husband Rhett, catching up and eating particularly well. We watched Game #3 of the World Series with them--nothing like watching a baseball game with a baseball coach--highly edifying, plus the Cubs won. On Saturday, October 29th, we met daughter Rachel and her husband Will for lunch in Front Royal, VA, to hand over the craft IPAs we'd picked up in Vermont. We'll see them again for an extended visit in November. From there we began driving the Skyline Drive, from Front Royal to Big  Meadows, where we stayed a couple nights at the campground there, enjoying mild weather and good autumn color.
Shenandoah Valley

Nice autumn color

Hiking on or near the Appalachian Trail at Big Meadows

Bear trap at Big Meadows

Radio-controlled deer at Big Meadows

At the Big Meadows NPS visitor center, a fine exhibit on the history of
Shenandoah National Park; and a reminder of less happy (and just) times;
the exhibit detailed the challenges of the federal agency faced in a
segregationist state

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Vicki had never seen Gettyburg, and I hadn't seen it since the early 00s when Rachel (a history major) and I visited it. We began at the visitor center and the excellent video there, narrated by Morgan Freeman, which gives the big picture. I was reminded of a bumper sticker that said "I want my life to be narrated by Morgan Freeman".

After the video you see the Cyclorama, a 360
degree oil painting depicting the battle; a special
building has been built to display the painting,
reputedly the largest oil painting and canvas
in North America; above is a tiny segment

The painting was done by the Frenchman
Philippoteax and his assistants in the 1880s and
displayed in such places as Boston and Philadelphia
(not Richmond nor Atlanta)

Honest Abe in his Bubba Gump pose

What's a minie ball worth these days?

The Union's General Abner
Doubleday, who, if he did not invent
baseball, popularized it among the
Union troops during the war; it was
played according to "New York rules"
in those days; Doubleday was from
Cooperstown; oh, yes, he was a hero
at Gettysburg, too

Looking back toward Seminary Ridge

Part of the Lutheran seminary, as it was in the

From Seminary Ridge, we drove Confederate
Avenue, which leads through the entire battle
line of the rebels; and then up the Roundtops
to Cemetery Ridge, which the Federals defended

Artillery where Hill's batteries were located

At the Virginia memorial, looking across the field
to the Union side

The Virginia memorial, the largest Confederate
memorial, among scores of them

Gen. James Longstreet, Lee's "Old War Horse," who
differed with Lee on the battle plan July 3, and told
him "It is my opinion that no fifteen thousand men
ever arranged for battle can take that position";
Longstreet, a great general. has been reviled in
the South for 150 years; two months after his
triumphs at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville,
Lee suffered from what the Japanese later described
as "the victory disease"

Now turning to the Union battle line

The Pennsylvania memorial

Among the scores of Union memorials

The "angle"; just to the right is the "high water
mark," where the rebels briefly breached the
Union line 

Looking back across that field of death (Pickett's
Charge," etc.) to the Virginia memorial

"After Gettysburg": from the fall of
Vicksburg on July 4th, 1863, that war
was mostly about U. S. Grant; nearly
all the Union victories prior to
Gettysburg, in the West, were Grant's

Sunset over Gettysburg

An unforgettable place, so recently desecrated by