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6:44 a.m. - 2004-08-03

DRAGGING OUT THE VACATION

So let's see ... where was I?

Oh yeah ... went to the Dixie Stampede in Tennessee ... shielding my food from the clumps of horse shit flying everywhere ...

Tuesday (one week ago) we woke up without a plan. I'm guessing this is what vacations are all about ... you wake up and go with the flow.

Maybe that's why I don't like vacations. I like structure in my day. I want to know what I'm doing that day before I go to bed the night before.

Sure, most of the time I don't do a damned thing. Still, at least I know that the day before.

Anyway, we woke up, looked at the rain outside and said "Let's go to Dollywood!"

For those of you who have a thing about clicking links and just want short, concise information given by me ... Dollywood is an amusement park in the mountains owned by Miss Dolly Parton.

Naturally, I wanted to go because I figured the place would be swarming with middle-aged women sporting beehive hairdos and huge winnebagos.

No such luck.

It was just lotsa women with no teeth and saggy boobs hawking $5 Sno-Cones.

Anyway, by the time we get there, the rain is really coming down.

We pay our $42.50 per person to go walk around in the rain and see all the signs declaring each ride is closed.

We finally find a ride that's open.

The Mountain Sidewinder.

We had no information about the ride, but it looked like one of those log flume rides.

I took Andrew over to the measuring stick and he just barely cleared the stick.

So we hiked the mile and a half up the side of a mountain to the entrance of the ride.

We get up there, huffing and puffing our asses off and Andrew decides he doesn't want to get in the ride.

Now then.

I just hiked up the side of a mountain in the rain for about ten minutes, lugging a 32 lb. kid under my arm.

There was GOING to be a payoff for me in this whole experience.

While Andrew screamed to get out of the log, the operator of the ride suggested "Maybe he shouldn't ride it."

Yeah.

And maybe you should get your own daytime talk show with advice like that, Gramps. Now shut the fuck up and get this ride in gear, while I've got the kid in my Vulcan death grip.

Okay.

The ride WASN'T like a log ride.

It was like the Luge at the Olympics.

Basically, you're on this skimpy half log thing that is FLYING down this course at speeds upwards of 200 mph.

And every few feet the thing hits a wall and almost tips over into three feet of water while it flies down the mountainside.

I think Andrew may have screamed once.

That was right before his little heart exploded in his chest.

The kid was TERRIFIED.

And me, Bad Daddy, felt like shit when the thing was done.

His heart was racing in his chest, I could feel it going postal in there.

We get off the ride and now we're all completely soaking wet. Andrew's pissed at me for forcing him to ride this death trap from hell and is screaming his dissatisfaction with me for all of East Tennessee to hear.

We put him in the stroller and keep walking until we come upon a carousel.

Andrew likes carousels.

Scratch that. Andrew USED to like carousels.

Now he's TERRIFIED of them.

Susie dragged him kicking and screaming on to the thing where he cried the entire time.

Y'see?

Now he's scared that every single ride will send him flying through the air into Satan's open arms.

We saw the train and figured since the kid loves trains, he'll warm up to the train ride.

Uh-uh.

We sat on the train for five minutes in the station while he screeched, sending everyone in our train car into another train car to get away from the bad parents and their screaming child.

The entire 20 minute duration of the train, Andrew sat on my lap with his head buried in my chest, shaking.

This is a kid who LOVES trains.

Obviously, I've scarred him for life now and when he becomes a teenager and goes to the state fair and all his buddies want to get on a roller coaster and he passes politely, he'll silently curse me for my complete lack of common sense.

We decided to stick with the shows that they have there since one of them featured Veggie Tales which Andrew apparently loves to watch at school but never watches at home.

I'm sure the show was decent, but I dozed off for 30 minutes while Andrew danced and sang along to their songs.

Four hours into Dollywood, we decide that we were tired of being rained on and tired of fighting with Andrew so we went back to the hotel for dry clothes and a nap.

Went to the Alabama Grill (named after the country music band and not the state) for dinner where they have a steak that weighs a pound and a half.

I didn't order it, but this rather large woman next to us did and kept talking about it all through the meal.

"I don't know if I can finish all this!" she said, voice cracking with giddiness as sparks flew from her fork and knife while she wolfed the steak down.

She finished it.

And it wasn't pretty.

I think she expected some sort of reward for her gluttony, but no award came.

Her family rolled her out of the restaurant as she announced to anyone that cared "I finished the Big Bubba!!"

Yes you did, Orca.

Yes you did.

Wednesday, July 28

We drove down to Knoxville on our way home to see my old college roommate, Mr. Dave G.

Dave and I roomed together for just one semester in 1981 and had the best time known to man during those four months.

I've written about Dave before, most notably here and a few other times but I don't remember where and I don't have time to find other entries where he was mentioned.

Anyway, I was nervous because I remembered Dave as being a tall, lanky kid with a head full of dark hair and had no idea what he'd look like today and was afraid I wouldn't be able to recognize him.

And I didn't. It wasn't until some tall gray haired goober walked up to Andrew and said "Hey Andrew!" did I realize that Dave had gotten old.

Well ... not really really old. Sure, he had gray hair.

But so did I.

Before I shaved it all off.

So, as promised, here's a photo of me and Dave and Andrew at Calhoun's in Knoxville, waiting impatiently for our lunch.

Dave's wife Julie even joined us for lunch and she and Susie had a wonderful conversation about the perils of marrying childish assholes.

Dave is still one of the funniest and coolest guys I've ever met. This past weekend, another friend of ours from college who has a band was opening for Hank Williams Jr. in Indiana.

The only problem was, the bass player in the band couldn't make it.

So Dave went up to Indiana to play bass for our buddy.

Only problem ... you guessed it ... Dave has no idea how to play the bass.

I'm still waiting to hear back from him on how that went.

But we had a great time catching up and the two hours just flew by.

We parted and I almost ALMOST said "Have a good life!" to Dave and Julie.

But I'm glad I didn't.

And tomorrow, I tell you why.

TOMORROW, A STARTLING REVELATION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF UNCLE BOB AND YOU WON'T BELIEVE THE NEWS THAT WAS WAITING ON HIM WHEN HE RETURNED HOME!!

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