Vacation: Day Four – May 28, 2014  

Last night I attended high school graduation of my nephew Ryan Jones. He graduated from Sevierville County High School in Sevierville, Tennessee. The graduation was held on the University of Tennessee campus. He was the salutatorian. He gave an excellent speech was a Star Wars theme. He returns to the University of Tennessee in the fall as a computer engineering major.

The event was a lovely affair. We started eating out for a nice family dinner. Twelve attended at one of Knoxville’s finer restaurants. Ryan’s father’s entire surviving sibling’s attended the graduation.

It was 1 AM when I got back to my hotel. The evening was enjoyable, but tiring.

I got up at 8 AM. Again, we had breakfast at the Bavarian (Christmas themed) Denny’s Restaurant. Following breakfast, we headed to Dollywood where it is BBQ & Bluegrass month. Fortunately, I love both.

The temperature was in the mid 80’s. The humidity was high. Overall, it was comfortable.

We went to a different show with live music every 60 to 90 minutes. We enjoyed bluegrass gospel, southern gospel, traditional gospel, Irish, Scottish, and Celtic music.  A pleasant surprise was the Dolly Parton Story Museum. In it was all her awards, pictures and an enjoyable trip down memory lane. It included:

Dolly Parton Story

  • Dolly’s Friends – Several pictures of Dolly with her celebrity friends including: Cher, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Johnny Cash, and others.
  • Dr. Robert F. Thomas – Contains a copy of Dolly’s birth certificate and the original doctor’s bag belonging to the doctor that delivered Dolly.
  • Tennessee Mountain Home – A replica of a cabin like the one in which Dolly grew up. This exhibit contains dolls like the one her father made for her as a child called “Little Tiny Tassletop,” which was the influence for Dolly’s first song written.
  • Coat of Many Colors – The original coat that Dolly’s mother made for her is displayed next to the original lyrics from the song, written on the back of Porter Wagoner’s laundry slip which is also featured.
  • Greene’s Rolling Store – A replica of a bus that traveled the area Dolly grew up is displayed.
  • House of Prayer – A church house is replicated, displaying objects that belonged to Dolly’s grandfather Rev. Jake Owens including: a pair of glasses, a fiddle, an organ, and a family Bible.
  • School House – A one-room school house like Dolly attended as a child. Objects on display include love letters written to Dolly by a schoolmate, a photo of Dolly in front of the United States Capitol her senior year, and her high school band uniform.
  • Cas Walker Show – An area that is dedicated to Cas Walker and the show that introduced Dolly to show business.
  • Early Career – A copy of Dolly’s first record “Puppy Love” and other objects from her start are on display.
  • Do You, Dolly… – A copy of Dolly’s wedding certificate as well as other pictures of Dolly and her husband are displayed.
  • The Porter Wagoner Show – Costumes belonging to Dolly, Porter Wagoner, Speck Rhodes, and Don Warden are on display. Also on display are “Dolly Dolls” made by Ann Warden.
  • The Dolly Show 1970s – Costumes from that era of Dolly’s life are on display as well as video footage from The Dolly TV show.
  • Lyrics – A collection of hand-written lyrics.
  • Movies – Costumes from 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, Steel Magnolias, and Straight Talk are displayed.
  • Dolly Remembers Porter – A video of Dolly remembering Porter Wagoner is presented along with a costume belonging to Porter Wagoner.
  • Awards and Accomplishments – Dolly’s Academy of Country Music Awards, Grammys, Country Music Association, and other awards are on display in a two-story case.
  • Listening Station – Listeners can listen to Dolly’s music.
  • Videos – Viewers can select Dolly’s videos.
  • Family and Friends – Using touch-screen, viewers can watch interviews with Dolly’s family and friends.
  • Ask Dolly – Using touch-screen, viewers can “ask” Dolly questions.
  • Dolly’s Closet – A display of Dolly’s old stage costumes, as well as costumes from her 1980’s TV show.
  • Wear Dolly’s Wigs – Using touch-screen and cameras, viewers can put their pictures on a screen and select Dolly wig styles.
  • Imaginary Library – A video plays of Dolly talking about her Imagination Library program through the Dollywood Foundation.
  • Dollywood – An exhibit with Dolly at various events from Dollywood.
  • Family Tree – Pictures of Dolly’s family.
  • For God and Country – A room dedicated to Dolly’s love for her country.
  • Rotating Costumes – Various display cases that showcase various costumes from Dolly’s career.
  • Smoky Mountain Reflections – A room that is made to look like it’s outside, which serves as the exit of the museum.


Chasing Rainbows from door

Speaking of Dolly. She is in town for her 50th high school reunion. She graduated from Sevierville County High School, class of 1964. She is doing a benefit concert tonight in Knoxville. Most of my day was spent walking over the hills of Dollywood.

We had a nice dinner after our outing. Now I am resting and relaxing on the balcony overlooking the river, enjoying the cool of the evening. I will rest and relax. Miss Benita is watching a classic movie.

Some material is from:


Vacation: Day Four – May 27, 2014

Last night I went to bed too late. It was after 1 AM by time we made it back to the hotel and got ready for bed. For someone like me who rarely stays up past 10 PM it was traumatic.

I awoke a little after 5 AM. Miss Benita was snoozing in her bed. I decided to read a few minutes. I went back to bed after realizing she wasn’t waking up. I went back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until just after 9 AM. By time we both did our morning hygiene, shower, etc. it was 11:10 AM when we left for “breakfast”. I felt like the day was lost, wasted. I’ll never get those five hours back.

Bavarian Denny's

We went to the Denny’s in Pigeon Forge. She ordered biscuits, gravy and hash brown potatoes. I had a heart hearty hamburger with fries. If you are a fellow AARP member, Denny’s gives a 20% discount 24/7/365 to AARP member who show their card and ask for it. Nice. Oh, I’ll call the it Bavarian Denny’s because of it’s architecture.

Next drove Miss Benita to her sister Joette’s house. I deposited her there. No offense to my in-laws, but I needed to have some “me” time. I’ll be back over there at 4 PM. I’ll spend the evening with them. We will drive to Knoxville for dinner with them, my brother-in-laws siblings, and more. We’ll then drive over to the University of Tennessee campus. My nephew Ryan’s high school graduation is there. we” then go back to there house for desert and pats on the back. Ryan in attending the University of Tennessee next fall. He will major in computer engineering.

After dropping of Miss Benita I drove to the gasoline station and topped off the car. Next I drove up and down US 441 which is the tourist strip in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It took some pictures of the strange and interesting venues along the way. There are signs everywhere telling you where you are. This one kind of summarizes all the location signs.

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There are some interesting and weird building along the US 441 drive. In the cities commercialization is out of control. How about these:

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I found this strange building turned upside down.

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When did the Hatfields and McCoys move to Tennessee? They had more billboards than a rich politician. They were everywhere!

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Pigeon Forge has it’s own Titanic. The last time I saw it had been in Branson, Missouri. The feel of the Seveirville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area is like a blend of Branson, Missouri with a dash of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

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I guess they were envious of the people of Rapid City, South Dakota which has Mount Rushmore. They have their own version of the famous mountain. Now if I could just figure out who the four are on the Pigeon Forge version,

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You can’t be in Pigeon Forge without saying hooray for “Dollywood”.

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The were some places peddling adult beverages. Here is one of the venues.

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Just when you can’t stand the traffic any longer you run into beautiful scenery and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The development stops at the boundary. The scenery is what you come here for, well at least me.

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Why is my first thought of the late Mr. Fred Rodgers when I see this picture? Trolley!

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I am a nature lover. Few places are prettier.

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And my final example of how nice it is.

More tomorrow. Tomorrow’s agenda is Dollywood.