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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.