Friday, April 06, 2007

Dolly, Dolly, Dolly, get your Dollywood here

Today would have been completely and utterly impossible if it were not for Cindy. She's the only one with brains enough to check the weather forecast BEFORE we trek up to the mountains of TN. And if she hadn't, we have been trapped inside all day, wearing shorts, throwing logs onto the fire, and cursing the cold snap which fell upon us.

As it was, we were still freezing. There was no winter last year and we barely have any cold weather gear. What we brought barely kept out the chill as we navigated through Pigeon Forge and into the open, windy embrace of Dollywood.

Here's a pic of the kids and Flat Stanley, waiting for me to buy our tickets. Notice the hats? Notice the mittens? Notice IT IS APRIL???

Anyway, this place was wonderful and extremely kid-friendly. The grounds were well kept and the staff was friendly and extremely helpful. I don't think anyone younger than fifty is allowed to work at Dollywood, though. (Not that it is a hip and trendy abode where all the 20-somethings are clamoring sign up for summer work. )

We found this "rain maker" gadget around a corner. I think we were the only ones that checked it out. Lots of steampunk dials and levers and analog panels just ripe for my macbre tinkering. Cindy, if you can imagine this, wouldn't let me fiddle with it, though. Something about lawsuit and getting arrested by the Department Of Homeland Security. And Dolly doesn't take lightly to random geeks messing with her contraptions. So no rain was made by Jon.

Our first ride was a "lumberjack elevator," which translates into: Daddy gets to hoist his weight and the weight of the children about nineteen times because when he stops the children will start screaming for more and you're trapped with them on this spinning column of amusement for a looooong time, so get pulling you fat bastard, you should have worked out instead of playing video games last week!

Fortunately, Liam helped and we won the race to the top. At least his Daddy ain't the fattest one on the ride!

Having witnessed the full glory of Daddy being put to work by a 7-year-old and listening to Mommy's laughter the whole time, Meg immediately drafted me for a second ride.
She only weighs like three pounds less than The Boy, but she's twice as strong and screams three times as loud on the way down. The theory is to hoist your way to the top, let go, and glide down to the bottom. Then start again. And again. And again. Until your limbs fall off, or the ride operator gets tired of laughing at you. Either way, the kids love it.

Cindy took time out from behind the camera to pose in front of Ol' Number Seven Zero, the local coal burning train engine. Flat Stanley got a piece of the action, too. Notice Cindy's wearing gloves? (See any gloves on Daddy in the other pictures???) And Meg is starting to run out of fuel. Won't be long before we're having to carry her. Well, I'll be the one doing the carrying.

Kids. And sheep. And Liam's wearing his "prospectors medal" for panning gold nuggets out of a sandy stream. (The stream was heated, the nuggets were planted. I paid $5 each for them to feign the digging so they could get the medals. And Meg, quickly figured out that she could reach into the sand and pull out the nuggets quicker than trying to pan them out of a lump of sand with a bowl.)

The sheep are as fake as the medal. You think Cindy would let the kids near REAL bloodthirsty sheep?

After escaping the clutches of the evil faux sheep, we swung by the local water mill. I showed the kids how they used the power of flowing water to move the wheel and grind corn and wheat into cornmeal or flour, to make burittos. The kids were most unimpressed and asked if I had to talk every time we passed the boring things. Then we agreed Daddy would shut up if they slept in their own beds tonight. A deal made in heaven!

Finally, me and The Boy relaxing in front of a soothing waterfall.

There were plenty of other adventures that went un-photographed. A glass blower making an oil lamp. Two women making lye soap from ashes (the fumes from which burned our eyes!) Our "Olde Tyme Pictures." Half a dozen rescued eagles gnawing on still-flopping fish. And a giant treehouse with foam-launching cannons and squirt guns that didn't come in too handy in the near freezing conditions.

Meg's wore out. Liam's missing the computer. Mommy is starting to feel sick. And Daddy's wondering how much this will cost him in the long run.

The modern life! Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

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