Pie Trip II: Oshkosh to Dollywood

The last two weeks have already blurred together in my memory, so I’m not even going to try to remember where we were or what happened on what day. I have a much clearer picture of what happened in each state we passed through, so I’ll try to break things down by state and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll also be breaking the report into several installments in order to prolong the suspense and the lives of my poor typing fingers.

Wisconsin

The wedding was a lot of fun. It was a small affair in a chapel just off the EAA airfield in Oshkosh, with the reception held immediately afterward in the EAA Convention Center. Things I remember from the wedding:

The reception was a blast. Eric Carlson showed up, having finally escaped from the clutches of O’Hare. For some reason, Dan and Alison had seated me, Loren, Anna, Steve, and Eric at a table with two very nice people none of us had ever met. Luckily, they didn’t seem to be offended by the ensuing conversation, which was pretty incredible. You’ll have to wait for the video to see what I’m talking about.

After dinner, Loren was a maniac on the dance floor, to everyone’s great amusement. This too will be prominently featured in the video.

We awoke early the next morning, repacked the car, had breakfast in the lobby, and departed for points south. Before leaving Oshkosh, we stopped at Target and bought some supplies and a roof rack for the car. Loren and I installed the roof rack in the parking lot, loaded the luggage bag with crap from the back seat to give Anna more breathing room, and away we went.

Illinois

Somehow we ended up driving right through Chicago even though I had tried to plot us a course around it. Traffic was pretty terrible. At one point, an errant plastic shopping bag flitted across the highway and lodged itself on our new roof rack. Loren reached out the window and retrieved it, and we kept the bag as a souvenir. Until we lost it, that is.

Indiana

I don’t think we stopped in Indiana. The wind blowing across the freeway was really annoying since our roof-mounted luggage basically turned us into a giant sail. Our fuel efficiency took a big plunge too. There wasn’t much to see in Indiana, but traffic wasn’t bad, so we made good time.

One thing I noticed on this trip is that drivers in each state behaved very differently. Indiana was the first place where this became particularly noticeable. Traffic seemed to move in little clumps. There were slow clumps, which stuck to the right lane, and fast clumps, which stuck to the left lane. When two clumps met, everything was fine as long as one clump was slow and one clump was fast. But if two slow clumps met or if two fast clumps met, everything went all awry and nobody seemed to be able to figure out which lane to be in. It was weird.

Ohio

We crossed the southwestern corner of Ohio on our way from Indiana to Kentucky. I wasn’t impressed.

Kentucky

The campsite we had been aiming for turned out to be some kind of expensive outdoor resort and they wanted a bunch of money, so we had to detour to Big Bone Lick State Park. It took us forever to find the park, so when we finally arrived it was well after midnight. The park ranger was a very nice guy, though, and he didn’t give us any crap about arriving too late.

The next morning, we got all turned around trying to get back to the highway, so we took a nice tour of rural Kentucky. Loren and I tried (unsuccessfully) not to make jokes about the fact that the entrance to Big Bone Lick State Park is at the intersection of Big Bone Rd. and Beaver Rd. It didn’t help that we had to take Beaver Rd. past Crouch Rd., through the town of Beaverlick, and past Dickerson Rd. before finally reaching the highway.

Tennessee

After another long day of driving, we arrived in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, home of Dollywood. Or maybe it was Gatlinburg that was the home of Dollywood. I can’t remember. Anyway, we were all surprised by how beautiful Tennessee was. We were even more surprised at what a huge tourist trap these two towns were.

As we made our way through town toward our campsite at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I caught a glimpse of something shiny out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to see what it was, I was shocked to see, for just a split second, the unmistakable outline of a DeLorean. And not just any DeLorean—this was a time-traveling DeLorean! It was just barely visible behind a window on the second floor of a building with a sign flashing the words “Movie and TV Car Museum” in gaudy neon. I had to return my attention to the road to avoid an accident, but I made Loren and Anna promise we could investigate further in the morning.

North Carolina

Technically, we ended up camping in North Carolina. We’re not sure how it happened, exactly, since we were aiming for a campsite in Tennessee, but it all worked out just fine.

Tennessee

We backtracked a few miles to Tennessee the next morning to visit Dollywood and the DeLorean. When we arrived at the entrance to Dollywood, there was nobody in the toll booth. The lane wasn’t blocked off, so we assumed we’d just pay inside somewhere. We drove in to find a parking spot.

We found lots of parking spots. In fact, we found twenty or thirty acres of parking spots. The place was deserted. For some reason I started hearing the theme from Chariots of Fire and had an intense desire to punch a moose. After driving around for a while, we came across a guy sitting on one of the people-mover trams, who informed us that the park was closed for the day.

Pants.

Since we had allocated the entire day for Dollywood, and, since Dollywood was the only reason we were in Tennessee to begin with, we were disappointed. Still, this gave Loren and me a chance to investigate the Movie and TV Car Museum while Anna shopped.

It turns out they did indeed have one of the time-traveling DeLoreans from Back to the Future, although it was pretty obvious that it was used mainly for exterior shots. Someone had made a valiant attempt to make the interior look like it did in the movie, but they failed miserably. For some reason the flux capacitor was blue. Blue! I was a little disappointed.

We also saw a bunch of other movie and TV cars, some of which will probably be in the video.

Don’t miss the next riveting installment, Pie Trip II: Dollywood to Grandma’s House, in which our heroes encounter a forest fire, get lost on a deserted military reservation, dispose of unnecessary car parts at high speed, and finally eat some actual pie!