A surprise road trip destination

Published 12:50 pm Thursday, May 16, 2024

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Paul’s going to Dollywood.

We actually have a full day off together and a friend to feed and clean up after the critters, giving us the opportunity for—all together now—A ROAD TRIP!! 

I wanted to return to Folly Beach, but that idea was nixed because Paul feels a 7-hour round trip is too much driving just so I can run screaming to shore should a minnow brush against my thigh. I reminded him that we used to sit in traffic for a solid two hours in Los Angeles before the freeway cleared to go anywhere, including the dog park, but to no avail. He’s become used to small-town living with empty roads stretching out before him, so I had to come up with another plan.

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“Lake Jocassee?” I tossed out. “We could picnic and kayak and I don’t think they have jellyfish.”

Paul slowly shook his head, wearing a “Meh” expression. “I’d rather do something different.”

“Dollywood?” I was being completely facetious. For the life of me, I couldn’t imagine Sapphire-Bombay-martini-drinking, Morgan-driving Paul embracing—wait, let me read you straight from their website: ‘rides related to country culture and food and beverages that are traditional to the Tennessee Smoky Mountains.’ Which means rides that send one hurtling upside down through abandoned mine shafts with a gut full of ‘Bobby-que’ and Mountain Dew…

Paul’s eyes developed a gleam I’d not seen since he learned it was possible to import magareci cheese produced by Serbian donkeys.

“I think I’d like to go to Dollywood,” he said slowly.

“It’s a beautiful drive to get there, but are you sure? It’s everything you hate: crowds, water parks, screaming kids…”

“Dolly…” he murmured, in a sort of trance.

“I mean, they have cultural crafts, which are interesting, and it’s set in the mountains, but you’re not going to be able to get Pad Thai or a Pinot Grigio.” 

He nodded. In a million years, I’d never have guessed he’d be so dazzled by the prospect of spending a few hours at an amusement park. 

“Dolly,” he repeated, almost to himself. “Mountains…”

Hey, wait a minute…