Trip to Tennessee - 2007/08/16

A couple of months ago my friend Jackie asked if I would like to take a vacation with her to visit Knoxville, home of her old University. Having never been to Tennessee I agreed and we started making plans. I wanted to go rock climbing, Jackie wanted to go kayaking, and we were both looking forward to enjoying the Smoky Mountains. Well, then I went and broke both of my arms in June, putting an end to many of our plans, but we still wanted to go.

So on Wednesday, August 16th, we loaded up the car and headed on down to the filthy dirty South. Here are the chronicled events for your peeping pleasure.

Day 1

I didn't get any pictures of the way down because I drove until nighfall. Not like there is anything exciting in Ohio anyway. I take that back; in Ohio, between Toledo and Dayton on I-75, there is a huge tortured Jesus statue outside of a church. It's very disturbing and makes me rather fearful of the place in general. Near the end of Kentucky Jackie took the wheel and brought us into Tennessee. Amazingly, in Tennessee, even though the Interstate speed limit is 65 MPH, the trucks drive 75 on the road. The police there just don't seem to care!

Well, we made it into Knoxville, and after a quick look around we got a room at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown and unpacked the car. We took a quick walk through the city and made our way back to the hotel to rest up for our first full day.

Day 2

Breakfast would be held at IHOP, which is a lot more successful down there than up here. We saw a bajillion Waffle and Pancake Houses, which might have something to do with the obesity problem in the South. Jackie pointed out the lack of a bottle deposit in the state which led to a lot of litter, which could be seen everywhere as we walked to the Market Square. After that we went to the large Library. The UT Library is nice and large and I enjoyed looking through it's many old books. We went to dinner at Kanpai of Tokyo, which is surprisingly difficult to find. There I noticed that people chew with their mouths open a lot more in the South. They also wear glasses cords a lot more, but when you consider how bright it is and how often you're putting on and taking off your sunglasses it makes sense. We headed back to the hotel and enjoyed the pool and spa before heading to bed.

This is from a flag book in the UT Library. Apparently a UT student thinks Israelis are "foucking tcourists". Whatever that means.

Here is the UT Library in its full splendor.

Here's the Europa statue outside of the library.

The statue is quite anatomically correct. It even has testicles!


Jackie trying to steal coins form the fountain.

At least I knocked down the Sun Sphere. Ha-ha!

Looking down from our hotel room at night.

A long creepy hotel corridor.


Day 3

We went to a popular buffet restaurant for breakfast called Shoney's, which is kind of like Big Boy with less on the menu, but more in the buffet. Afterward we crossed the street to the Disc Exchange. I found a Queen T-shirt and posted that I didn't have, as well as a cheap copy of Dreamboat Annie by Heart. I'm sure the clerk thought I was straight. After that, we walked over to the Book Eddy which is a small used book store with a nice collection of vintage books. I picked up a copy of Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus by Martin Gardner and All Tomorrow's Parties by William Gibson. Then we went to McKay's Books, which is a used Media store. Jackie sold off a bunch of old books and movies, and picked up several new ones, and I found a cheap copy of the Goo Goo Dolls album, A Boy Named Goo. Jackie also pointed out that store clerks will talk to you a lot more in the South, which I couldn't help but notice. Jackie isn't fond of chit chat, but I found their friendly conversation rather welcoming. For dinner we went on the Star of Knoxville Riverboat cruise which was great except for the annoying organ music they played as we came back into Knoxville.

I thought the Book Eddy's cat was dead at first.

To give you an idea of how important religion is in the South, this entire section covers atheism and agnosticism, and not a single book is on those topics.

Now here's one of the two full -walls- of Christian books. You'll note that they're even sorted by color!

Jackie looking gorgeous on our way to dinner.


Me looking spiffy as well.

The finger is from Jackie. She's so mature.

Some of the landmarks we saw along the riverboat cruise.

One of the many bridges.


The other god that people here worship is the Giant Orange T of the Volunteers.

A nice big cement bridge.

A very nice river house.

Another river house.


Not the kind of thing you want to fall into.

I'm going to miss the tree covered hills.

Heading back to the lights of Knoxville.

The boat house that the riverboat docks at.


Day 4

Even though my arms haven't fully healed, we were determined to have some outdoor activities. We decided to hike through The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Well, the drive there made us pass through Gatlinburg which is a frightening place. If you've never been there you can picture what it would be like by imagining a traveling carnival the size of an entire city, complete with carnies, endless neon, and really dumb redneck patrons. Once we were safely in the park we were able to shut them out. Our first hike was a simple warm up. A half mile along a winding path. The next hike was much harder and much more gratifying. We walked 1.3 miles uphill to Laurel Falls which was beautiful, even with the small amount of water from the drought. After we returned we crossed to road and started up a very steep trail, but finding it rather dull we aborted it and went back down. Then we drove over to the Rainbow Falls trail and hiked 2.7 miles uphill to view the rather dried up falls. On the way up we had to encounters with the wildlife. The first was a black and speckled kingsnake and the second was a black bear! On the way back down we met up with another bear that had a cub in tow, which I'll admit, gave me quite a scare. I didn't take a picture of the bear because a fellow hiker named Domanic did and mentioned that the bear didn't much care for pictures. Well, we made it down, safe and sound, and even with some of the mild climbing we did, I didn't injure my arms that much. Dinner was had at O'Charley's

Flying pigs.

Getting ready for the first hike. Look at those muscles!

The river bed is looking a little dry. We could use some rain.

Grabbing her crotch and flicking me off. That girl has class!


The Laurel Falls trail.

Trees growing out of the rocks.

Damn! What a stud!

Jackie looking down on me from atop a boulder.


Children falling to death makes Jackie horny!

Me on top of the same rock.

Climbing more rocks.

Finally made it to Laurel Falls.


Looking down into the falls. It's a lot further in real life.

Both of us sunning ourselves at the bottom of the falls.

Looking out on one of the hills.

A rainwater runoff path.


The third trail we went up. This one was rather steep.

Jackie wearing her creepy bear mask. She thought if the bears think she is one of them, they will only attack me. Personally, I think she wanted it for her furry costume.

The Rainbow Falls trail, our fourth hike.

The uneven rocky climb of the Rainbow Falls trail.


The black and speckled kingsnake I almost stepped on.

That's a big rock!

Looking up the Rainbow Falls. Although there was not enough water to make them fall.

Looking down the Rainbow Falls from further up.


Day 5

After gathering up all our stuff and loading up the car we said goodbye to Knoxville and headed back home to Michigan. It was 90 degrees and sunny in Tennessee, and it was 65 degrees and rainy when we got home. Sounds like Michigan all right. Over the course of the trip we racked up 1,424 miles, and I spent around over $1,000. Good times.

Jackie's clever idea of Interstate Bingo.

The Sun Sphere in the sun.

The UT bridge.

It really does stink!


That enormous cross is right next to Adult World. Coincidence?

The city of Florence actually uses y'all on their water tower./p>

I'm going to miss driving through falling rock zones.