When I was 5, my friend and I listened to her Dolly Parton record over and over. We sang and danced around her pool table. Fast forward to 1986, when I was in high school. Word spread fast about the new theme park Dollywood. I’ve wanted to go for at least 30 years now.

We’ve already had enough of theme parks this summer. But, one more near Pigeon Forge wasn’t going to hurt.  Jason pointed the bus in that direction.

We really weren’t expecting the entire town to be one big tourist destination, but it turned out to be the epitome of tourist traps laid out in strip mall form. There were dinner shows, outlet shopping, old timey photos, Ferris Wheels and musical acts. We luckily found a family campground with a vacancy just outside of town.

It was great for kids. Two pools and a lazy river, an arcade and a snack shop. Kids where everywhere driving golf carts. We shared our campsite with two families of ducks. Our kid was in heaven.

And, I finally got to go to Dollywood. It was actually really fun, and small enough to do in a long afternoon. We stayed for the fireworks and took the town’s free shuttle bus pack to the campsite.


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We hadn’t escaped the heat yet, so we only had a quick stop in the Great Smokey Mountains. Another Jr. Ranger badge achieved. Bode really got into picking up litter as part of the program, so now we’ve been doing it every day.

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Our next destination was a visit to see our friend Mark at Salem Imports in Virginia. We wanted to get Red Beard up on a lift  and poked and prodded before our journey up north. We though we needed ball joints, but they quickly figured out our center pin was the real problem. Very happy to have the pros do this one. Mark also took us for a little boat ride and we spent another day enjoying Salem. Cool little town.

We wanted to linger for a fun VW campout that weekend, but we’d already made plans in New Jersey to see an old friend. So, onward north.

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