The Adventures of DoBell and Pyama

My Photo
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Dollywood Ho!

America's a real big country. We had to drive a lot of miles each day to get to Phoenix in time for phone interviews, limiting what we could see on the way. We had to choose carefully. For our first day, we chose Dollywood.

Contrary to popular belief, Dolly Parton did not create Dollywood. Originally known as the Rebel Railroad, it had also been owned by the Cleveland Browns. Dolly, who grew up poor on Locust Ridge in Tennessee, had long wanted to give something back to her hometown in Appalachia, and buying and developing Dollywood was her way of doing that. Today, Dollywood is the most popular tourist attraction in Tennessee, ahead of Elvis Presley Enterprises' Graceland, and Gaylord Opryland.

Dollywood's popularity was obvious as soon as we pulled into Pigeon Forge. For miles and miles, the road to Dollywood is lined with tacky, shlocky attractions: a NASCAR Speedpark, the Comedy Barn ("good clean fun for the whole family"), and more dinosaurs and miniature golf courses than you can shake a stick at. I've been told that Dollywood itself is classier, with areas that highlight Appalachian history and culture, but I can't vouch for that myself. Doreen and I didn't want to pay admission to Dollywood ($42.40 each), so all I can show you from this stop is a picture of me and Dolly in the lobby of the LaQuinta Inn.

Ok, so they're fake. I still think it's fun -- I'm a Dolly fan, after all. Despite her dumb blonde persona, I think she's a gifted songwriter who has a great voice and sings beautifully. (A good voice does not a good singer make: viz Mariah Carey or any winner from American Idol.) I've enjoyed her recent, bluegrass albums, except for her awful bluegrass cover of "Stairway to Heaven." Still, being a Dolly fan, I have to say in her defense it's not that much worse than Paul Anka's swing rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." (So what if Paul Anka has a star on the Walk of Fame -- in Canada. I can't believe Chris Douridas liked it. I hope he's being ironic, like Frank Zappa was (I think/hope) in endorsing the Shaggs.)

That was about it for Day 1. Stay tuned for more great adventures.

Dolly and Paul. Posted by Picasa

Road trip!

For long, complicated reasons, Bailey, our cat, ended up in Phoenix.

Since Doreen and I are still working on our job searches (i.e., "unemployed"), we have a lot of time, and we decided to do a cross-country road trip to fetch the cat. Our plan was to pack everything into my little Audi and head off from Cleveland to Phoenix on a big road trip.

It didn't quite work out that way. On the Monday before we were scheduled to leave, Doreen got a call for an interview on Wednesday. We hurriedly packed up and drove to Washington, calling Mitch and Sharon from the road to see if we could stay in the guest room. They were, as usual, lovely and accomodating, and things seemed to be going well -- until Doreen got a call on Tuesday, asking if she could rescheduled Wednesday's interview for Thursday. Having a lot of time (i.e., "unemployed"), we said absolutely, why yes of course! (Grrr.)

We told Mitch and Sharon we'd be staying one more day. Then, on Wednesday, we got a call, asking if Doreen could reschedule Thursday's interview for Friday. Of course - no problem. An hour later, another call - how about next week. Despite having a lot of time (i.e., "unemployed"), we said no. We had already imposed on our tenants enough, so they offered -- finally -- a phone interview the following week. Doreen accepted. We packed up our bags and a neat little DC inverter by Xantrex that would power my laptop in the car, and took off for Phoenix.

I think road trips -- especially cross-country road trips -- are always fun. But this time, having just returned from driving 6,000 miles in Europe, it just didn't seem as interesting. It's not just that we did a lot of work in the car on the laptop. We got to see, among other things, the world's largest fire hydrant and the world's deepest hand-dug water well. But these tourist attractions just don't compare to all the cool stuff in Europe.

A lot of folks say that Europe is more interesting because it's older, but I think it's deeper than that. Most of what we found interesting in Europe -- the walled cities, the castles, the chateaux -- are testaments to a bloody, violent history. Except for the Civil War, it's a history we just don't have in the U.S. I predict that five hundred years from now, barring any protracted wars on American soil, we still won't have all the interesting sights in Europe. Our monuments will be theme parks, strips malls, and big box retailers -- all the architecture of a peaceful and prosperous country.

Ok, enough philosophizing! Let's get to the world's largest fire hydrant! I'll type more up in the following days, including a report of our adventures in Italy.