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Friday, August 10, 2007

Coming ‘round the Smoky Mountains

I am in the midst of a summer vacation in the Smoky Mountains and vicinity. It’s a real culture shock for a Midwesterner like me.

For example, at the national park gift-shop I observed a touristy-looking rube pull a 'possum off the stuffed-toy rack (mainly populated by Smoky Bears). He was taken aback when the gal at the register said “You know that this is one of them Himalayan ‘possums.” This 'feller' was terribly disappointed and said sadly “You mean it’s not from ‘here-abouts’?” She says, “Shore ‘enuf – we found him-a-lay’n along the side of the road.” That got a guffaw out of me and a glare from the other guy.

Another thing that I can’t get used to is the extreme topography of this Appalachian mountain region. Where I come from, things are flat as a ‘possum at the back end of a steamroller. I am amazed at the audaciousness of the angles. For example, the new Mystery Mine ride at Dollywood plunges 85 feet in a “hair-raising 95-degree vertical drop!” Beyond 90 degrees it just isn’t fair, so far as I am concerned.

I do enjoy listening to the country songs on the car radio – they tell some fascinating stories. For example, I heard a love song by Brad Paisley that features this unusual pickup line: “I’d sure like to check you for ticks.” Brad will be playing the Minnesota State Fair later this month -- not for me.

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, my wife and I toured the Biltmore Estate today – a five-dozen bedroom place! The builder, George Vanderbilt, inherited a small portion of his father’s $200 million fortune – nearly $100 billion in today’s currency. George’s share paid for a spread here in Asheville, North Carolina that covered nearly 20 miles from end-to-end, literally as far as the eye could see from the Biltmore’s balcony. Even a little bit of hundred billion goes a long way!


  • At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A friend once told me he was in a convenience store/baitshop/bar/restaraunt in a northern Wisconsin resort town. The gentleman ahead of him of him paying his bill, an obvious tourist not from the midwest, was staring curiously at the stuffed Jackelope on the wall behind the counter. After receiving his change, the tourist gentleman asked "Is that thing real?" The man behind the counter replied "Well...there he is aint he?" as if the taxidermy was proof of the existance of Jackelopes. I thought Jackelopes were native to the destert southwest?


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