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August 24, 2019

Well, I only intended to take a short break from the blog, but it ended up being two months.  Sorry about that.

 

When I left you, I was leaving Michigan for Ohio and all points southeast.  That's what I did, too.  I passed through Ohio and into Kentucky and then Arkansas before I met my family in Gatlinburg for our mid-July vacation.  It was in Gatlinburg where I finally fulfilled a long-held dream:  visiting Dollywood.

 

There is so much to love about Dolly Parton.  I saw her perform live about 8 years ago and I have never forgotten it.  She's a wonder.  So, I had to see what Dollywood was all about.  Mostly, my greatest impression is that Dollywood is Disneyland for Appalachia.  The park is broken up into smaller sections (just like Disneyland's Tomorrowland or Fantasyland) named things like Timber Canyon, Craftsman's Valley, and Owens Farm.  Throughout, fiddle music plays and there are ample opportunities to sit down in rocking chairs in the shade, eat pretzels shaped like Dolly's signature butterfly, or purchase handicrafts of every shape and variety.  I didn't really ride any rides (although there is a coal-powered steam train that kind of interested me) but I did admire all that Dollywood had to offer.  It was a smoking hot day and I definitely fell out of the spirit before the day was over.  However, I am so, so glad I finally got to see it.

Perhaps the highlight of Gatlinburg was the mama bear and her two babies that visited us daily at our cabin.  One afternoon, I watched for ten minutes as she nursed and then groomed her cubs right outside the kitchen window.  Better than a zoo!

 

From Gatlinburg, I went to stay with some friends outside Richmond.  It was a nice break from the stifling heat of the campgrounds and I'd missed seeing them.  Then, I made a brief stop back in Frederick to see some other old friends before driving to the Eastern Shore.  I spent a night in St. Michael's and then a few days at Dewey Beach in Delaware.  We took the ferry over to Cape May in New Jersey before we left.

 

I passed through Connecticut and Rhode Island (taking a swing through Newport to admire the sheer luxury of it all) before I made my way to Boston.  I don't know what I'd imagined about Boston, but it was so lovely and seemed to accessible.  I took a trusty trolley tour and saw just about everything.  On my way north, I also stopped in Salem to see all the Nathaniel Hawthorn and witchy things I could see.  The House of the Seven Gables did not disappoint and I purchased enough magic spells and witch-

 adjacent items to gift all of my friends.

 

Since Boston, I've been through New Hampshire and spent a couple of days camping near Portland, Maine.  In Bangor, I took myself on the Stephen King tour of town (the water standpipe and Paul Bunyan statue both of IT fame made it worth the effort!).  My next stop is Bar Harbor before I take myself even further north to New Brunswick and, finally, Nova Scotia.  I have a date with a long-time kindred spirit on Prince Edward Island.  But, that's a story for another day.  I promise to do better in my last few weeks of travel about blogging.  I hit a rut and it was tougher to dig out of than I'd imagined it would be.

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