Just back from the Smoky Mountains. Did the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge run. I've been before - this time with my eyes wide open.
Back in the 30's the government ran the mountain folk out of the mountains and established a national park. These "hillbillies' opened tee shirt stores at the base of the mountain. Not being able to read, hillbillies opened tee shirt stores across the street from one another. Some tee shirt stores are literally side by side. They appear to all get their tee shirts from the same distributor, because the selection is the same no matter which hillbilly tee shirt store you shop. There are 1000 places to buy tee shirts within 10 miles of the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the hillbillies sold their businesses to Middle Easterners. Being Middle-eastern in eastern Tennessee might not be easy. That appears to be why Habib - changed his name to something more Americanized. I actually met a man who appeared to be Pakistani, and sounded as if he immigrated here 30 minutes ago. His name tag read, FRED. Right.
You can get "The best barbecue in the Smokies" at every corner. Every sign, TV commercial, billboard, radio commercial, newspaper & magazine ad proclaims: "The best barbecue in the Smokies." Driving "The Parkway" those words jump out every 10 seconds. Yes, there are barbecue joints sandwiched in between the tee shirt stands. I ate barbecue in the Smokies for 4 days straight. On the drive home, I chose fish. I may not eat barbecue for months.
All you can eat. This appeals to the "vacation glutton" in each of us. Apparently there are many of you, but trust me, if you want a decent meal - avoid these places altogether. Or if you must "eat all you can", get there the moment the line opens. Arrive 5 hours after opening, and you're eating food that's laid there 5 hours.
Pancakes and "flapjacks". I'm not sure why they believe we want pancakes and flapjacks so badly, but these joints are every 1000 feet.
Go carts & Nascar. They even have Nascar go carts. This is especially fun after a day of eating flapjacks and barbecue.
How about an "Antique photograph?" Ya know, the orange looking photo of you wearing the vest with no back. You wear the pants that clip onto the front of your regular pants and select a stupid hat. These establishments are spaced at 500 foot intervals. Stupid & overpriced.
Outlet malls. You're smart enough to know how this works aren't you? You better be a small or a medium - or they won't have your size. The larges, extra larges and 2x sold out when this merchandise was in retail stores 2 years ago. Wait. Make that 5 years ago - in some cases 10 - because these places just keep adding merchandise - without ever weeding out the old - making the stores cramped, sloppy and unpleasant to shop at best.
Bulldoze this place and start over. Wipe it clean right up to the entrance to the park. The stupidity ends at the big "Entering Smoky Mountain National Park" sign. Words can't describe the beauty of this place. It's special - and what's at the base of the mountain has taken it's toll on me. I'll go back - to a hard to reach cabin far away from the Parkway. Just blindfold me as I make my journey there.