Good morning, Day Two! We slept in a bit and then rolled down to the buffet for breakfast, finding new nooks along the way.  Our destination was Dollywood, and with temps estimated to be in the mid 90s, we sunscreened and hatted up.

For thirty years, I lived near the Mouse; our kids started on Magic before their first birthdays. We even had season passes.  But, since moving to New York, we’ve grown to love regional theme parks.  The kids love their focus on roller coasters; we love their smaller size and attention to detail.  It’s like they know they’re not Disney, so they try extra hard.  Staff are super nice; food is usually surprisingly good; and everything seems more affordable.  So, no surprise that we loved Dollywood.

This tree situates Dollywood in the timeline of life that includes when the Grand Ole Opry began televising–but of course.  All that country music turned Penn into Nosferatu.

And Ned into a presidential candidate–which, now that I write it, may be the same thing.
Actually, this giant (and really impressive) eagle offered some of the day’s best shade.  I’m not sure how, but we spent about 6 hours in a theme park on a full sun day and walked away completely unsunburned.  Thank you hats and eagles.
Even our hatchlings were sun-safe.

We skipped all rides and let the kids have at it–from coasters to rafts.

In 50s land, Harper professed a sudden love of vintage cars–but only in pastels.  She wondered if she could get a vintage car when she learned to drive.  I proffered that by then, her father’s car will be vintage enough.

Penn prefers non-pastel vintage. 

We finished the day at Dollywood in Dolly’s museum, which is really a long walk through the power of having dreams and working to achieve them. Seriously, to read Dolly’s story, follow her from her coat of many colors through the school house through her eventual success, is to see what happens when one won’t take no for an answer and won’t ever fall into the trap of taking oneself too seriously.  We walked away from Dolly’s Dreammore Resort and Dollywood even more in love with Dolly.  Ned observed, “She may be faking it all, but she’s so genuine in doing it.”  It’s true.

Butterfly feet.

 We’ll take Dolly’s butterfly view of life with us wherever we go!

Back at the Dreammore after a steamy day, we cleaned up for dinner and again reflected on what a lovely place this hotel has made.  She needs to build more resorts in other places–similarly sized, similarly welcoming, similarly filled with little nooks and tall windows.  Musical acts would suddenly appear on the grand staircase or in a corner.  The pool deck would erupt into a water balloon fight.  Jenga games were scattered on tables in the Living and Family Rooms.  Accommodations were designed for families with spacious rooms, bunks, and lots of drawers.  We just loved it!

The sunset in the Smokies that night was just beautiful–especially when snapped from a porch of rockers.

More cards, more time together, and another night of dreaming more and living more-er.  Thank you, Dolly.


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