Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
Monday, May 11 2015

location: Clarion Inn, Room 302, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

This morning began on a bad note when I accidentally made myself a cup of decaf using the room's coffee robot. Meanwhile Gretchen made up her mind to power through her cold with a different kind of stimulant: pseudoephedrine. But she only took the recommended dose of 30 or 60 milligrams. In the past, she's found it has the power to make her colds almost asymptomatic when she's needed to work or socialize.
Our Clarion came with a complimentary non-Continental breakfast, something I knew would be eye-avertingly scary. When we went down to the dining room, I breathed entirely through my mouth so as to avoid smelling the horrible greasy vapors coming off the big vats, trays, and plates of jiggling yellow eggy slime. There was also plenty of bacon, but I don't find that fragrance as repulsive as perhaps I should. Even more disgusting in its own way than the horrible food was the collection of landwhales engorging themselves on it like so many single-minded ticks. I quickly decided we should eat the little we could find out in the lobby. My breakfast consisted of coffee, condiment-free toasted bread, and cubed potatoes that had frozen and thawed at least once. Initially the lobby didn't seem all that depressing, but then Gretchen noted the presence of a glass cage containing a single lonely live parrot. It had been placed there as advertising for Parrot Mountain, a Christian-based bird "sanctuary" where people can experience the "glory of God's creation." The only thing that leavened the mood was when I saw a little girl with water wings going out to the pool with her father. In a sotto voce version of her voice, I said, "I wanna go swimming, Daddyuncle!"
Though there is a main drag in Pigeon Forge that is a non-stop sprawl of businesses pitching to the passing tourist, there's a parallel road called Tester Lane without any of that crap. That was the way we drove most of the way to Dollywood.
In hopes of getting to the rides early and missing the crowds, we arrived at Dollywood just as it was opening. There was already a line at the entrance to the parking lots, where people pay for parking, but it was divided up into multiple lines. If one could avoid what we quickly dubbed "the tard line" (where dumbasses dicked around, couldn't find their wallets, and engaged in smalltalk about the big game instead of making their transaction and moving on), how hard could it be? We quickly abandoned our line when it seemed to be dominated with tards only to move into another tard line (the one farthest to the left), where we languished as we watched the people who had just been behind us (in what we'd mistaken for the tard line) sail through.
But eventually we were parked. At Dollywood, the lots are labeled A, B, C, D, etc., though a phrase is attached to each to help with remembering it. We were in C, Cotton Candy. The transportation from the lots to the park is all very efficient: a multi-car bus (it runs on rubber wheels on roadways but resembles a train) comes and picks people up and drops them off at the entrance. I suddenly realized I hadn't put any sunscreen on my arms, and in my rush to apply it, I got a dollop on the leg of the woman to my right (she wasn't Gretchen). I reflexively daubed it off, but she was left with something resembling the forensic evidence necessary to embroil a philandering politician in scandal.
After getting off the bus, we ran past the crowds of lumbering fatsos (it was almost as if we were in bullet time with respect to them), went through the gate (Gretchen had bought our tickets last night at the Clarion), and then ran up the hill to the rides. There was virtually no line for any of them, so within minutes were were strapped in to ride a wooden roller coaster called Thunderhead. I have not been on many roller coasters in my life, and the few I have were probably not this terrifying. For me, the experience was just barely tolerable. The G-forces were unpleasant and the rickety, jolty ride was a continual insult to my comfort. Still, since it was a good time of day to avoid lines, Gretchen and I got right into the next ride, I think it was Blazing Fury. It was a steel roller coaster, and that lack of wooden ricketyness made it a lot more pleasant. Still, this thing of my mind having to continually reassure my body that it wasn't about to die was going to take some getting used to. Next, after standing in front of fan blowing a cool mist of water (a great idea!), we sampled the Mystery Mine, a mostly-indoor ride featuring lots of darkness, unexplained crows, what appears to be a California Condor, a fireball, and several slow tick-tick-tick lifts and sudden drops. Our last ride of the morning was the new pride of the park, the Wild Eagle. At the entrance is a huge sculpture of a Bald Eagle looking like something out of Stephen Colbert intro sequence, though presumably non-ironic. The Wild Eagle is sturdy ride with big casters and eagle-themed cars mounted in rows of four. The twists and inversions (going upside down) are a lot for a naked ape's reptilian brain to process, but again, the solidity of the all that steel made it almost enjoyable even as we whizzed just a little too close to a number of trees left standing between the blue loops of track. I should mention that every ride at Dollywood features a master of ceremonies (MC) who keeps up a constant banter as the rides are loaded with people and sent on their way. The MC for the Wild Eagle was the funniest of them all. His shtick was to talk as though the Wild Eagle is a commercial airplane, requesting that trays be in their upright position, etc.
After the excitement of those rides, we thought it would be nice to do something a bit more relaxing like ride Dollywood's steam train (a genuine coal-fired conveyance running on a five mile loop of track). But it only leaves on the hour, and we arrived at the station soon after it had departed. So we found a water ride called the Mountain Sidewinder, and it would prove significantly less terrifying than a rollercoaster. By this point in the day, there were enough people in Dollywood for us to experience significant wait times. Looking around at the others in line, I realized that most of them were about 14 years old. Though there were many older people in Dollywood, we were almost always the oldest people on the rides.
When we finally got on the steam train, we were perhaps a bit less than the average age of the ridership. Throughout the ride, the conductor's voice kept up a constant chirpy narration. His enthusiasm and positivity were so boundless, it made me wonder if he had to compensate by keeping abducted children locked in a sex dungeon. He kept asking us to wave, clap, cheer, and do the other group behaviors, precisely the sorts of things that Gretchen and I had bonded over having contempt for back when we first met in the Harkness lounge in late August of 1988. Periodically coal ash would rain down on us or the whistle would blow. The latter happened a bit too often and then always a bit too long, as if there was a four year old in charge of blowing it. Along the tracks, Dollywood had set up a few old shacks staffed by scarecrows. There was also an enormous fake-looking bear statue that our chirpy conductor warned us about.
By now my feet were hurting. I'd first worn a blister in my left food on our hike near Mt. Mitchell, but it had recovered and initially today I thought my feet would be good. But all today's walking around in Dollywood had reaggravated it, and two more blisters had cropped up on my right foot. So from then on, I thought I could just walk barefoot carrying my Keens.
After our train ride, we walked to a nearby performance space and watched the Smoky Mountain String Band, the house bluegrass band, perform a number of songs. The competition to get into that band must be fierce, so it was no surprise that they were excellent and their harmonies extra creamy. Interestingly, the youngest member of the band, the woman who plays fiddle and sings, had been working at Dollywood doing non-musical jobs before getting this promotion. As we sat listening to the music, I noticed that family in front of us to our left included a young man with a big smile seemingly frozen on his face. Based on his other actions, he appeared to be autistic. But another possible theory is that he was a malfunctioning Japanese robot.
Nearby was a replica of the tiny two-room cabin where Dolly Parton had somehow grown up with her parents and eleven other siblings. Those are the kind of demographics that the birth control pill was designed to solve. (Loretta Lynn had a song addressed to this topic; of course Dolly did Loretta one better by never reproducing at all.) Inside, the cabin included a single largish bed, a woodstove, and a kitchen table too small for family meals involving fourteen participants. Some of the walls were covered with authentically-dingy wallpaper, though in the kitchen old newspaper was used instead. It had a charming æsthetic cohesiveness to it that would be absent from a pauper's house in the 1970s onward. The materials from Dolly Parton's childhood were earth-toned and natural, whereas in the houses of today's poor, one is likely to find a lot of ugly plastic and garish colors, not the sort of things that make for a popular nostalgia-stoking theme park exhibit. I haven't been there in two years, but I know, for example, that in the kitchen of my childhood home there is at least one ugly plastic lawn chair, probably with a crack in it. (In that case, extreme frugality is the issue, not poverty, but the point is the same.)
The cabin (and Dolly Parton's tour bus, which we didn't get around to seeing) were among the few things directly Dolly-related in Dollywood. The low amount of Dollinalia disappointed; she would have been happier to hear more of her music piped in on the park-wide sound system. Instead we heard a mix of modern (though tasteful) contemporary(ish) country, which (happily) included at least one song by the Dixie Chicks. One song that I definitely heard too often was "Down Home" (and by that, I mean at least four times). At individual venues, one could occasionally hear non-country music, though all of it blandly familiar (for example, a song by Hall & Oates). I never overheard any hip hop, not even in the form of a ringtone.
By this point in the day, I was getting hungry, so we started making towards the one venue in Dollywood where a vegan lunch could be had: Red's Drive-In. As we headed that way, a Dollywood employee saw me walking barefoot and said, with unexpected rudeness, that shoes were a requirement in the park. So I stuck my feet loosely in the shoes and limped along.
The line at Red's was impossibly long, so while I held our place in line, Gretchen went off to find me bandages for my feet and water for her bottle. The line lurched ahead in fits and then just sat still for long periods, and as I entered the air-conditioned inside of the restaurant, I could see why. At some point the lined divided into many lanes going to individual cashiers. For some reason I chose to go towards the leftmost lane, but over time this proved to have been a bad choice. Yet again, I was in the tard line. Gretchen and I took shifts holding our place in line, and I don't think we moved at all in 30 minutes, and I could see people in other lines who had been behind me reaching the front of their lines. Our particular cashier was evidently doing a very bad job; in particular, she was having trouble making shakes. When I saw all the blue-shirted chubby teenage girls in front of me (they were together as a group) ordering shakes, I felt the despair that I always feel when I'm in Stewart's waiting to buy my peanuts and some mathematically-challenged idiot ahead of me is buying lottery tickets. Later when Gretchen made it to the front of the line, she saw this same cashier engaging in chitchat instead of doing her fucking job. With the exception of that one cashier, though, Dollywood functions like a well-oiled machine.
Like the steam train and the replica of Dolly Parton's cabin, much of Dollywood is given over to nostalgia, a yearning that constitutes the soul of all country music. Near Red's Drive-In is a fake used-car lot and a ride featuring downsized replicas of classic cars. And Red's Drive-In itself was all about nostalgia. The waitresses all wore longish red skirts that made them look fat, and there were The Gem Tones, a Doo-wop group featuring an argyle-wearing nerd with repaired eyeglasses, a heavily petticoated cheerleader, an unconvincing greaser, and a girl-next-door. They went around to various tables in the diner singing to customers on radio microphones broadcasted throughout the large restaurant. I'm not a big fan of Doo-wop or the brand of nostalgia they brought with them, so hearing their ebullient banter and dumb songs was a targeted form of torture as I made handsigns to Gretchen off in the distance as she held our place in line. I signed the letter "T" followed by the letter "L" gestured in horizontal line. By this, of course, I meant "tard line."
When our veggie burgers and fries finally came, we went over to the condiment area and doctored them up. The condiment area was like a salad bar, and included such extras as jalapeños and red onions. I don't know if the food was worth the wait, but it was very good.
At this point I should mention something about the demographics and bariometry (if that's a word) of Dollywood. As with the people we'd seen yesterday at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, the visitors to Dollywood skew towards the unhealthily fat. Among the preteens, there is a tendency towards extreme skinniness, but puberty more than makes up for that, and the result is that Dollywood is almost devoid of hot teenage girls. The preferred attire of the young visitors is shiny oversized gymware (often featuring racing stripes and numbers). This reminded me of the cheap disposable outfits depicted in the movie Idiocracy. Beyond a certain age, there is a great dependence on electrically-powered scooters. Unlike the farm auctions I attended in the late 1970s with my father, I didn't see a lot of diabetes-related (or chainsaw-related) amputations, but perhaps these days it's easier to just to stay home and watch Fox News, NASCAR, or Downton Abbey when you are missing an arm or a leg. There were, however, a surprising number of people afflicted with Downs Syndrome present. Perhaps this reflects southern attitudes towards amniocentesis and abortion.
After lunch, we tried to wait in line for another water ride, but the line was out of all proportion to the apparent delight we would experience. So we did Daredevil Falls instead. It throws you down a fake waterfall with a big splash at the end, which is pretty fun. Despite all the food in my stomach, we headed back up Craftman's Valley towards the rollercoaster area, checking out a frontier church, a one-room schoolhouse, and, from a distance, several rescued raptors (including a Bald Eagle). It's not all fun & games at Dollywood; in a few places there is an actual attempt to be educational.
We tried the Tennessee Tornado, which has lots of inversions and G-forces, and for some reason it was my favorite ride of the day. But it did something to my stomach, because by the time we'd hiked up the steps to get in line for a second ride on the Wild Eagle, I realized I couldn't do it. At that point we decided to leave the park.
On our way down to the front, a sudden cloudburst sent everyone scrambling for shelter. This caused us to quicken our step. If there was to be a mass exodus of Dollywood, we wanted to be in front of it.
With us on our train-bus were a number of mothers with children and the enormous stuffed animals they had won. Like the visitors themselves, these animals tended to be ugly and garishly colored.

Our drive back towards Asheville started on US 411, which seemed a bit thin and windy to service a theme park as big as Dollywood. As we neared Newport, though, we could see a massive highway project underway along the hillside to our north. Evidently a bigger new Route 411 is in the pipeline.
Viewed from the north, the wall of the Great Smoky Mountains is of an unexpected scale, at least in the Eastern United States. We watched that wall grow closer and closer, and then we began to climb the grade of the Pigeon River gap, which marks the northeast edge of the Smokies. Somewhere along the way, we found ourselves being rained on by a thunderstorm, but the rain ended suddenly at the North Carolina Line, which evidently marks a storm-stopping ridgeline. Beyond that, it was all forests, tunnels, and, eventually, a long downhill grade into the Asheville area. For the last bit of the ride, I cracked open the single can of Pisgah GreyBeard IPA I'd managed bring this far (we'd left its siblings and half a bottle of white wine in our room back in Pigeon Forge). The beer was warm, but perhaps it was a little better that way.
After returning our car to Dollar near the airport, a nice woman who looked like she might be Cherokee drove us in the shuttle to the airport. We got to talking about Asheville and restaurants, and it came out that she was a vegetarian. That sort of thing always delights Gretchen.
In the airport, we soon learned that our flight to Charlotte had been delayed and that there was a chance it might be canceled altogether. Following the advice of the ticketing agent, we went through security anyway. My little three ounce bottles of vodka & white wine raised suspicions in the xray, but once they were isolated from the rest of my bag contents, it was all deemed okay. By the time that was over with, Gretchen came back from the gate with the announcement that our flight had been canceled. So we headed back out past security to talk to the ticketing agent. According to her, our next flight back to Charlotte and then home to Albany would be in 24 hours, meaning we'd have to spend the night in Asheville. Gretchen had already had a hard enough time getting house sitters for the time we'd been gone; there was no way we could do that. Also, she had to work tomorrow. She asked the ticketing agent what our options were. "Well, you could drive to Charlotte." That didn't seem very helpful. We didn't have a car. What, were we going to have to rent one? But then Gretchen turned around to face the people behind us in line, some of whom were dealing with the same problem we were. She wanted to know if anyone was driving to Charlotte. A nice heavily-tattooed white trash woman piped up that maybe she and her boyfriend were and that of course we could ride with them. But evidently she spoke too soon, because the boyfriend was looking hesistant. Then Gretchen got sidetracked on a call back to one or more friends at home about possible last-minute housesitting. At that point I wished she'd stopped to confer with me about what the gameplan was, because I didn't know how I could possibly be of use. I kept feeding eye contact to the white trash couple in case we still ended up needing a ride with them.
Gretchen wandered off for a bit and then return to excitedly announce that she'd somehow arranged a different ride. The white trash couple was off the hook. Now, though, we had to deal with the ticketing agent again to make sure we had seats on the flight from Charlotte. It turned out that the moment our flight from Asheville had been canceled, the computer had immediately reassigned us to a flight tomorrow night. We had to explicitly tell the ticketing agent claw back those reassigned seats, something that might have been impossible. After pecking away at her keyboard for a bit, she was able to get us seats, but they were now different. We wouldn't be together, and Gretchen was stuck in a middle seat between two strangers. It's presumptuous for ticketing software to automatically put people on other flights that way, and it's infuriating that our lost flight to Charlotte was being considered an "act of God" because it was weather-related, meaning there would be no refunds or accommodations. In point of fact, the weather between Asheville and Charlotte was perfectly fine; the weather problem was off in Columbia, South Carolina, where the plane we were supposed to eventually fly in couldn't land due to a thunderstorm. But that seemed more like a screwup in how the airline allocates planes than a weather issue.
The guy with whom we'd be riding was Bobby, an architect from Dallas. Like us, there was no way in hell he'd be spending another day in Asheville, and he'd immediately gone to the Budget desk to rent a car. As we walked out to the lot to get the car, we all had a good laugh about the possibility that Bobby was an axe murderer. It was good that he had that kind of humor; indeed, with a few little glitches, he could have passed for an ironically-minded New York City Jew. (Indeed, he said his parents were from New York City.) As a quick way of explaining why we'd so gladly jump in a car with him, I mentioned that we'd once hitchhiked all over Scotland. Bobby's reply was that he'd gone to college in London, an unusual thing for a guy from Texas.
Bobby wasn't a big asker of questions, but he did like to tell amusingly fucked-up stories. In the course of explaining why he'd been in Asheville, he told us the story of his sister (who lives in Hendersonville) and the man she'd married, a wealthy local ænasthesiologist. It seems the husband had a secret life of mistresses, child pornography, drug abuse, and other vices compounded by bipolar personality syndrome. Eventually he wrote a series of suicide notes to his wife and kids, took a bunch of pills, went into the forest, fell, hit his head on a rock, and died. The death was ruled an "accident" by investigators, who somehow kept the story out of the news. The suicide notes were destroyed before the kids ever got to read them. And the the wife, Bobby's sister, was completely written out of the will; all the ænasthesiologist's money went to the children.
Our drive from Asheville took us south down I-26. There was a steep grade as we came down an escarpment near Columbus (where, amusingly, Bobby complained about the slow left-lane drivers being "retarded") At some point our drive took us into South Carolina, which was momentarily confusing. It seems Charlotte is next to the South Carolina border and the fastest way to get there from Asheville is by coming in from the southwest on I-85. I'd never been on the ground in South Carolina before.
Our only expense on this drive was to pay for the gas, which came to about $9 for the two-hour drive. After we'd gassed up, Bobby told us a horror story from one of his many flights. He'd been put in a window seat and was relieved to find a thin Asian woman seated next to him. And all was fine until she busted out the kimchi and started eating it. (For some reason Gretchen expressed surprise that a man from Texas would be revolted by kimchi, though of course most people in America find kimchi a deeply weird and horrible thing. Bobby might have been similar to us in a number of important ways, but it was clear he didn't eat the way we eat.) So back to the thin Asian woman. She ate that kimchi and smelled horrible, but the story doesn't end there. Later in the flight, she apparently developed motion sickness and proceeded to vomit it all up. Her husband had prepared for this eventuality and kept handing her small transparent plastic sandwich bags. So not only did Bobby have to smell the kimchi on the way into and on the way out of that thin Asian woman. He also had to see it. I almost burst a gut laughing.
We split with Bobby a little before going through security. Despite this being the Charlotte airport, the walk to our gate was not an especially long one. The first thing Gretchen did when we got there was to go to a ticket agent, where she quickly arranged to get a non-middle seat. We'd still be separated, but not too far apart, and we'd both be about as comfortable as one can get in coach.
We had a couple hours to kill, and we spent them in the uncrowded seats of an unused gate across from our gate. Charlotte has free WiFi, so I could do the usual farting around with my laptop, looking occasionally to see the crazy woman with her two tiny dogs (one of which she made a show of corporally punishing) and that fat lady with the short dress sitting in such a way that I couldn't help but see well up her skirt.
At some point I went to the bathroom to take a dump and change into long pants, and that meant I had to contend with the uncomfortable presence of a bathroom attendant. (I don't normally encounter bathroom attendants anywhere but at the Charlotte Airport.) It's a mystery why Charlotte has bathroom attendants or what their function is supposed to be, but perhaps, like drawing & quartering, alchemy, and the trepanning, it's a tradition that should be retired. It's particularly awkward to be the only guy in a bathroom with a bathroom attendant, particularly when you have to go make noisy use of a toilet. What kind of eye contact do you make with a guy whose only knowledge of you is the sounds you make as you evacuate your bowels? And what kind of tip do you give him (especially when you've had to clean your toilet seat before sitting down due to the visible presence of piss spatters)? Fortunately for me, I changed my trousers first and pinched my loaves afterwards, in the midst of a sudden confusing mass arival of men. When I was done washing my hands, the bathroom attendant handed me a paper towel to dry them (because it would have been impossible for me to do it myself?), but there was so much ongoing chaos that he wasn't in a position to guilt trip me about the lack of a tip as I escaped from the bedlam of the bathroom.
Though we were in separate boarding zones, we both boarded with Zone 1 to avoid the possibility of having to check Gretchen's roller suitcase (we'd been warned that overhead stowage would be limited). I was confused and delighted by my seat. It was a window seat, but for some reason the window seat directly in front of me was missing due to the presence of an escape hatch. I've never seen this particular seating design, though it probably had something to do with tight pitch of the seats (one of many ways airlines have deployed to maximize occupancy). Gretchen was across the aisle and one row up, in the row with the missing seat. Everyone seated in both these rows had to agree to help in the case of an airplane emergency.
We'd had a plan of Gretchen swapping with whoever got the middle seat beside me, but then a big fat guy sat on the aisle seat in my row, and I knew that Gretchen wouldn't want to be wedged in next to him. And there was no way I was giving up my legroom to sit in the middle seat next to Gretchen. Unfortunately, the guy who ended up in the middle seat next to me was a talker, the kind of guy who sees airline travel as a delightful opportunity to have chats with random strangers. I'm fine with talking to people as payment for them giving me a ride when I'm hitchhiking, but if I've paid for my ticket, I have the right to remain silent. Initially this wasn't a problem, because I was reading an article in the New Yorker about what it's like to be held hostage by Somalian pirates. But the plane was a piece of junk and my overhead light lacked a difuser, meaning it threw a small harsh spotlight on my left upper arm and very little light anywhere else. I could read, but it wasn't pleasant. Still, it was enough to direct the attentions of the talker in the middle to the fatso in the aisle seat. The talker was terrible with ages, because he seemed surprised to learn that the fatso (who was a young-looking 48) wasn't the same age as him (though he'd bleached stylish streaks in his hair, the lines on his face matched his admitted age of 56). Later the talker would ask me I'd been to Woodstock, that is, the famous musical event that happened in 1969 when I was 18 months old.
The pilot announced that, due to bad weather conditions to the northeast and construction at the airport, we would be delayed on the runway for 20 minutes. But pilots always lie when they say shit like that; we sat there completely unmoving for something like an hour. Mind you, our flight to Albany was only supposed to take two hours.
Soon after the drink cart came through and I had my orange juice, I reached down into my bag and retrieved my vodka. Anybody else would have just let me spike my drink in peace, but the talker wanted to know what I was doing. So I explained that vodka always makes air travel so much more bearable. Unfortunately, now that we'd had an exchange of this nature, I couldn't retreat back to the New Yorker to read another article without seeming rude. Fortunately, vodka also makes talking to boring people so much more bearable. That is the underlying logic behind buying expensive drinks at bars (as opposed to buying liquor, taking it home, and drinking it by yourself, the way I prefer to do it). Unfortunately for our conversation, the talker's voice was in a bad part of the sound spectrum and was almost inaudible over the sound of the jet engines outside. Mostly all I could do was nod my head, smile, and say "yeah" to his declarative sentences. At some point he showed me a picture of his mother, a glassy-eyed old woman, lying mouth-agape in a hospital bed. She looked dead.
Still, the talker meant well. When we finally landed in Albany and were deboarding the plane, he saw a woman near the front, across the aisle from a heavy bag in the overhead bin. He immediately recognized that she needed help, and so fetched the bag for her, even offering to carry it off the plane.
I'd thought I was done with the talker after leaving the plane, but he saw me and Gretchen walking towards baggage claim and decided to walk the last several hundred feet with me. So then I had to introduce him to Gretchen like he was a fast buddy of mine.
After taking the shuttle to the economy lot, we had difficulty finding our car. I couldn't remember what letter we'd parked near; all I'd remembered was that we'd been able to walk nearly all the way to the exit gate before our shuttle had come. Just when we'd thought we'd wandered too far into the lot from that gate, our Prius finally responded to constant pressing of the flashy-flashy button on the key fob. (I don't know why she hadn't been pushing the panic button, the one that toots the horn.)
We always enter the Albany Airport economy lot from the south off Route 155, but signs in the lot itself suggest that the best way to get out to I-87 is by leaving to the north. Whoever installed those signs didn't however, see fit to erect signs saying which way to go from the traffic circle at 42.738926N, 73.790558W. So we had to end up using Google Maps anyway.
I drove us all the way back home. It was 3:00am when we finally rolled in. I took note of the Subaru, whose damaged wasn't immediately apparent.

Me in front of the flamboyant eagle sculpture at the entrance to the Wild Eagle ride in Dollywood. (Click to enlarge.)

Gretchen (closest in the foreground) on the Dollywood steam train. (Click to enlarge.)

Looking towards the Great Smokies from the northwest on I-40. (Click to enlarge.)

A tunnel on I-40 somewhere in North Carolina's Pigeon Valley. (Click to enlarge.)

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