My parents took us on a trip to the Las Vegas of Tennessee — Gatlinburg — on another occasion. We had to drive a mere four hours this time. Piece. Of. Cake. We went to Gatlinburg.
We stayed in a hotel that was a little sketchy. And by sketchy, I just mean old. But old in that strange flashy way that reminds you of the seventies (not that my fifth-grade-old mind had a true grasp of the seventies) mixed with dust and a few randomly modern upgrades. It had leopard carpet and velvet curtains and a swamp-like hot tub in the middle of the lobby. I think they were trying to ‘bring the outside in,’ but it just resulted in a swamp with fluorescent blue water making the lobby atmosphere that of a strange sort of sauna.
While we were there we didn’t go to the Smoky Mountains. My mom thought they were more like hills in comparison to her beloved Colorado Rocky Mountains. I must now agree, they are like anthills compared to the massively breathtaking Pikes Peak. We also didn’t go to Dollywood. The place to go and we missed it. This one decision would haunt me for the rest of my middle school career. Everyone and their dog had been to Dollywood and I had only been to a swampy hotel on the other side of town. Dolly Parton would have been ashamed.
We did, however, make it to the aquarium. On a rainy day when everyone was hustling about under their umbrellas from tourist trap to tourist trap, we decided to visit one for ourselves.
It was mesmerizing, standing on a conveyor belt gazing at the sharks as they swam over your head. They had some pretty menacing teeth though.
Afterward, we walked outside — that’s when it happened. Another car incident. I was standing close to the curb with my family while they inspected brochures (or some other tourist attraction behind me) when a truck came zooming around the corner, making no effort to avoid the lake of a puddle I was examining at my feet. It was like a scene from a movie: little droplets of water sprayed like bullets from a machine gun’s rapid-fire and barely managed to miss my face.
But hit every other part of my body.
It would seem I was cursed with vehicular vacation ruining.