Today was our first significant driving day since Monday. We are headed to Memphis. To break up the 432 mile trip to Graceland, our plan is to stay over in Dickson, Tennessee.
The yin and yang of luxury tent camping is that you pay the piper for comfort and space when you dismantle camp. Lucas “The Rooster” once again announced the sun was up at the break of day. Failing to convince him to go back to sleep, I started breaking down camp and reorganizing the car at around 8:15. We pulled out of Camp LeConte at 11.
We ended our trip to Gatlinburg the way it started. At a Pancake House. Today, it was the Little House of Pancakes. Even at 11, a handful of families were milling around the parking lot as they waited for a table. The hostess wrote down our party size (3) and gave us a 3 of diamonds card. About 15 minutes later, she called our card suit and number out.
After breakfast, we headed out of town. Will bid a solemn farewell to the World of Illusions as we passed it. He reviewed his favorite exhibits. A series of Lincoln-Douglas-style debates between him and Yelp reviewers for the World of Illusions (Yelp: One star) would be compelling.
I suggested that the boys take a nap. For a change, they both agreed.
Courtesy of Will, we have new napping ritual on the road trip. First, Will proclaims it is nap time, which Lucas seconds. Then, the boys announce that they have gathered up their principal stuffies (Will: Hedorah. Lucas: Lamby and Armadillo). Third, Will says it is time for their favorite bedtime story. Then, he (or Lucas) proceeds to tell some variant of this story:
Once upon a time, we were driving down the road. There was a [enter an object: for example, a stack of pancakes or a haystack] in the road. Will and Lucas missed it. Mom and Dad hit it.
They both then giggle and laugh uproariously.
I have heard some variant of this story at a minimum two dozen times since we left Mountain Lakes. It started when we were driving Virginia’s descriptively-named Crooked Road
They refuse to tell me why they think it is funny. I now find it funny. I can’t explain why either.
By Great Smoky National Park (~10 minutes away) the boys were out cold. They slept for the better part of 3 hours. They snored. I listened to Joe Rogan interview Andy Ngo.
We pulled into the Quality Inn in Dickson around 4:15. Just enough time for a short swim. The Quality Inn in Dickson is what the President would call “a sh#!hole.” It has two unexpected redeeming features (beyond the $73/night Priceline rate). Beds and linens that appear to have been stolen from a much nicer hotel, maybe an Aloft or Hyatt Place. A large pool, with a real deep end (9′).
The boys took full advantage of the deep pool. Will dove to the bottom repeatedly. Both ran and leaped into the deep end.
A Wagmiller boys road trip tradition is partaking in some regional, small town America tradition. Last year it was a demolition derby at the New River Valley County Fair in southwest Virginia.
This evening it was the Dickson Stampede Days Rodeo. Bareback Bronc Riding. Bull Riding. Cowgirl’s Barrel Racing. Cowgirl’s Breakaway Roping. Saddle Bronc Riding. Steer Wrestling. Team Roping. Tie Down Roping. It had it all.
Because we overstayed at the pool. Dinner was at the fairgrounds. The boys had lemonade, dogs, fries, and giant homemade rice crispy treats. I had a cheeseburger and mozzarella sticks. Despite all the livestock around, it was my second non-Keto day since Jan. 1.
Overloaded with food and two too hungry boys, I walked off before they gave us the rice crispy treats. The nice high school-aged girl who took our order tracked us down in the grandstands. We were easy targets to find, I suspect. Chinese youth were seriously underrepresented at the 2019 Dickson Stampede Days Rodeo.
The boys played the part of cowboys well. They took their cowboys hats off and put them over their hearts when the national anthem played. The started saying “yes, sir” and “yes maam” more. They cheered the broncing bulls and horses and the men riding them. They oohed and awed when the cowboys and cowgirls roped a calf and tied it up. They giggled and laughed at the rodeo clown’s silly antics.
Tomorrow we are off to Graceland.