My acceptance of commercialism didn't come a minute too soon. It
seems that Maggie Valley/Cherokee wasn't the last tourist hole I
would have to endure on my trip. It wasn't even the last one of
the day. A few hours later my car took me to Gatlinburg,
Tennessee. Gatlinburg and its Siamese twin sister city, Pigeon
Forge is everything I hated about Maggie Valley/Cherokee but
without the charm. Did I mention Maggie Valley's charm? That's
because I didn't notice until I saw what these Tennessee towns had
to offer. If the North Carolina tourist traps were liver, at least
they were of the chicken variety compared to the beef liver towns
that I found in the mountains of Tennessee.
The best way to describe Gatlinburg is to say, imagine any
amusement park you visited as a child. Pick one that had cool
dangerous rides, not a bunch of monorails, boats, trains and dolls
swaying to the jamming beats of "It's a Small World". Now that you
have an amusement park in mind, add in a mayor, a city council, a
zip code, and the ability to drive yourself from ride to ride.
Have you got that? Now picture not enjoying it very much. You've
got it! Every store and shopping mall had some sort
of petting zoo, amusement park ride, arcade, Go-Kart track, Goofy
Golf course, or gigantic plastic animal in its parking lot.
Instead of paying one ticket price for all the amusement park, you
had to pay for each thing you tried. This worked out well for me,
because I was keeping my money where it belonged, snuggled safely
next to the right cheek of my rear end. The restaurant's were all
out of an amusement park nightmare. Everyone of them had some sort
One was a Comedy Barn, where you could eat and laugh at
the same time. But be careful, as a kid milk may feel
good coming through your nose during a laugh fit, but
carbonated drinks can hurt and coffee burns.
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