Travel Recap: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

As I stated in my post last week, I have been on vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Gatlinburg is a staple in the world of Mid-American vacation spots and it is fairly easy to see why. In addition to the countless tourist-oriented spots, Gatlinburg and the neighboring Pigeon Forge provide some breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as various hiking trails and other opportunities to admire the natural beauty of the area. Gatlinburg has all sorts of exciting experiences to offer and in this piece, I will be highlighting some of my favorites.

pancake pantry

Firstly, the food selection in Gatlinburg is absolutely phenomenal. Several premier eating destinations can be found throughout the area. My personal favorite, Pancake Pantry, is located in Downtown Gatlinburg. The Pancake Pantry offers a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes, highlighted by their superb pancakes. Out of the 15+ varieties of pancakes they offer, I recommend the Swiss chocolate chip option. As a firm believer in the idea that pancakes are far superior to their waffle counterpart, I fancy myself as somewhat of a pancake expert. I can say with absolute certainty that these were the very best pancakes I have ever had in my life. They also offer several sandwiches and side dishes that were of great quality. I highly recommend anyone in the area try the Pancake Pantry. Gatlinburg also offers a variety of dinner establishments, such as Paula Deen’s restaurant. I highly recommend it as well. It is worth mentioning, however, that eating out in Gatlinburg can be very pricy, as their taxes are somewhere around 12%. We found that a filet mignon steak dinner prepared at our cabin was more economical than eating at a moderate hamburger place. However, if you are prepared to spend a little more money, Gatlinburg offers a fine selection of eateries.

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A lovely waterfall in Gatlinburg

The natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains can’t be understated. I have a hard time believing there is a more gorgeous landscape to be found anywhere in the country. The Gatlinburg area offers all sorts of opportunities to connect with nature, such as hiking trails, chair lifts which provide excellent views, and guided nature tours. Seeing as how I am not exactly a fan of traditional hiking, I gravitated toward the motor trails offered. These are roads which take you through some of the most beautifully forested parts of the state, offer the chance to see magnificent wildlife, and do it all from the air conditioned comfort of your car. During one of our motor trail experiences, a small bear cub walked right up to our car. It was absolutely adorable and made the experience even more special. Along with the wildlife, several historical structures such as old churches, mills, and cemeteries can be found within walking distance of these trails. Experiences like this are part of what makes Gatlinburg such a great destination.

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The bear we saw on the motor trail
Probably my favorite part of Gatlinburg, the area offers some exemplary shopping destinations. Nearby Sevierville features a substantially sized outlet mall with all of the stores you could ask for, including Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Adidas, several food-oriented stores, Vans, American Eagle, and countless others. Downtown Gatlinburg features all kinds of tourist-targeted shops, such as a plethora of souvenir stores, moonshine and whisky shops, and, my favorite, a high-end clock store. I was dangerously close to buying a luxury mantel clock because it was so beautiful. There is also a shopping hub near Gatlinburg, known as The Island. It has virtually every kind of store imaginable: pop-culture themed stores, cigar shops, food places, a caricature store where my brother and I had a phenomenal caricature done (which can be seen on my Instagram page under the username BigRedAFerg), and much more. Aside from New York City, Gatlinburg offers the best shopping experience of anywhere I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting.

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Some suspect hat options available in Gatlinburg shops

Overall, Gatlinburg is a sensational vacation spot and I urge everyone to travel there if presented with the chance. The sights, shopping, and food are just part of what makes Tennessee, and Gatlinburg in particular, such a great place to visit. The local amusement park, Dollywood, the Ripley’s Aquarium, the theatre dinner shows, and some of the desirable fishing spots are some more great options as well. This vacation was certainly memorable and I hope some of our readers get to experience it as well. Below are a few more pictures from my trip if you are interested. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out some of the other great content on Mid-American Culture.

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My Twitter: @BigRedAFerg

Mid-American Culture Twitter: @M_American_C

Weekly Waves 35: Chicks who Rock

Happy Father’s Day, here’s a playlist about women who rock curated by @caedwards99 enjoy!!!

 

Cherrylog Road

This post I wanted to share another of my favorite poems, Cherrylog Road by James L. Dickey.

Dickey was born in Buckhead, Georgia in 1923. He would attend Clemson University before joining the U.S. effort in WWII. He served as a Night Fighter in an air squadron in the Pacific Theater and flew over 100 combat missions. After the war he spent time continuing his education and taught and lectured for awhile. He eventually decided, in his words to “Chase the buck,” and he began to work as a writer in advertising. He would return to more personal writing and would publish his first collection of poetry in n 1960 called Into the Stone, and other writings. He would become a national poet Laurette in 1966 and publish his acclaimed novel Deliverance in 1970. He would even have a cameo in the Burt Reynolds starring film adaptation.

Dickey’s writing is known for a sense of primitivism that he envokes even as modern man would like to escape from it. He often in his writing inhabits animals and gives us nature’s perspective. He liked to blur the lines of reality and the dream world and often base human desire.

In the poem Cherrylog Road a young man has parked his bike in a junkyard and is awaiting his girlfriend to come along for a make out session in an abandoned and decrepit auto. While he waits he gathers up some parts for girl to show her dad as an excuse to go in the first place. I love this poem, hope you enjoy it as well. Keep up to date with Mid-American-Culture and follow us on Twitter for fresh content daily and I leave you on Cherrylog Road.

Cherrylog Road

Off Highway 106
At Cherrylog Road I entered
The ’34 Ford without wheels,
Smothered in kudzu,
With a seat pulled out to run
Corn whiskey down from the hills,
And then from the other side
Crept into an Essex
With a rumble seat of red leather
And then out again, aboard
A blue Chevrolet, releasing
The rust from its other color,
Reared up on three building blocks.
None had the same body heat;
I changed with them inward, toward
The weedy heart of the junkyard,
For I knew that Doris Holbrook
Would escape from her father at noon
And would come from the farm
To seek parts owned by the sun
Among the abandoned chassis,
Sitting in each in turn
As I did, leaning forward
As in a wild stock-car race
In the parking lot of the dead.
Time after time, I climbed in
And out the other side, like
An envoy or movie star
Met at the station by crickets.
A radiator cap raised its head,
Become a real toad or a kingsnake
As I neared the hub of the yard,
Passing through many states,
Many lives, to reach
Some grandmother’s long Pierce-Arrow
Sending platters of blindness forth
From its nickel hubcaps
And spilling its tender upholstery
On sleepy roaches,
The glass panel in between
Lady and colored driver
Not all the way broken out,
The back-seat phone
Still on its hook.
I got in as though to exclaim,
“Let us go to the orphan asylum,
John; I have some old toys
For children who say their prayers.”
I popped with sweat as I thought
I heard Doris Holbrook scrape
Like a mouse in the southern-state sun
That was eating the paint in blisters
From a hundred car tops and hoods.
She was tapping like code,
Loosening the screws,
Carrying off headlights,
Sparkplugs, bumpers,
Cracked mirrors and gear-knobs,
Getting ready, already,
To go back with something to show
Other than her lips’ new trembling
I would hold to me soon, soon,
Where I sat in the ripped back seat
Talking over the interphone,
Praying for Doris Holbrook
To come from her father’s farm
And to get back there
With no trace of me on her face
To be seen by her red-haired father
Who would change, in the squalling barn,
Her back’s pale skin with a strop,
Then lay for me
In a bootlegger’s roasting car
With a string-triggered I2-gauge shotgun
To blast the breath from the air.
Not cut by the jagged windshields,
Through the acres of wrecks she came
With a wrench in her hand,
Through dust where the blacksnake dies
Of boredom, and the beetle knows
The compost has no more life.
Someone outside would have seen
The oldest car’s door inexplicably
Close from within:
I held her and held her and held her,
Convoyed at terrific speed
By the stalled, dreaming traffic around us,
So the blacksnake, stiff
With inaction, curved back
Into life, and hunted the mouse
With deadly overexcitement,
The beetles reclaimed their field
As we clung, glued together,
With the hooks of the seat springs
Working through to catch us red-handed
Amidst the gray breathless batting
That burst from the seat at our backs.
We left by separate doors
Into the changed, other bodies
Of cars, she down Cherrylog Road
And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard
Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106, continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth,
Wringing the handlebar for speed,
Wild to be wreckage forever.

Things I am Looking Forward to from E3

Hello everybody and welcome back to the Mid-American page. This past week was what every gaming nerd looks forward to every year, E3. E3 is a big gaming conference in which all these big name companies announce new games and release more information on upcoming projects. This years conference really lacked all the “wows” that it normally has. However, there were somethings that looked very interesting to me.

Fallout 76

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As you can tell by one of my previous articles, I am very excited for this game. Bethesda announced this game will have a co-op mode and that the map is 4x the size of the Fallout 4 map (which is freaking massive). This game has the entire West Virginia area buzzing with local landmarks being featured such as Camden Park, the Greenbrier,  WVU, and New River Gorge. The game play looks flawless and will be amazing. Look for Fallout 76 on November 14th.

Elder Scrolls 6

Another big hitter for Bethesda. This is a game that almost all gamers have been waiting for. Unfortunately, we do not know much about it at this time, but we are definitely getting one.

Kingdom Hearts 3

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One of my personal favorite games of all-time. Kingdom Hearts is a Disney game where you go through a bunch of doors to different worlds and will need to help many of your beloved Disney characters. They announced that it will be available on Xbox, which I believe is a first. It looks like Disney did everything they could to add all the new characters and keep the old ones. They even included new vehicles which are actual cars from the rides at Disneyworld. Kingdom Hearts III will hit the shelves January 25th, 2019.

Halo Infinite

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For the love of God, do not fuck this one up. Please. Halo 5 was a damn train wreck. They tried extremely hard to make a love child between Call of Duty and Overwatch. Once again, we do not know much but we are getting a new Halo.

The Last of Us: Part II

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My second favorite game of all-time is getting a sequel and it is much deserved after the ending of the first one. The gameplay and graphics look beautiful, and the story seems interesting. Ellie seems to be a huge player in this and could make this game even more interesting. Look for the Last of Us sometime in 2019.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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This game looks nothing short of amazing. All the old characters are back and they are bring us some new characters as well. I do not own a Switch yet, but this is going to make me buy one for sure. Gather your buddies and prepare for battle because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. hits shelves December 7th.

What games are you excited for? Who won E3? Let us know down in the comments! Thank you again for tuning in on another Friday and as always, stay tuned in for fresh daily content from myself and the rest of the Mid-American crew!

 

The Horrors of Traveling

At the time of this post going up, I am either preparing to, or I already have left for vacation. My journey is taking me to the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Along with Myrtle Beach, I think Gatlinburg is the go-to travel destination for most Mid-Western families, particularly those from the Ohio-West Virginia-Kentucky tristate area. I, for one, absolutely love Tennessee. The landscape is stunning, the touristy spots are always a good time, the vast majority of the people are very pleasant, and there’s a ton of great shopping and eating destinations (shopping and eating are two of my favorite recreational activities).

However, traveling certainly has its drawbacks. People like myself, being the excessive procrastinator that I am, tend to put off packing until the day they leave for their trip. I absolutely waited until the day I leave to start. Those sharing my traits often tend to not realize they need to go to the store to get some essentials (or in my case, hair spray, pomade, and extra crispy cheez-its) until the very last minute. I have made one trip already and might have to make another one before I leave. Me and my fellow procrastinators also have a tendency to end up forgetting something of great importance when throwing together their luggage, which I almost certainly will. Perhaps worst of all, traveling paired with immense procrastination has prevented me from writing a quality, meaningful post for Mid-American Culture this week. With that being said, once I get back, I hope to detail the highs and lows of my trip in a relatively lengthy piece. Hopefully that makes up for the sub-par piece about all of the problems I have caused myself that you are reading right now. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of the other articles on the page from our awesome writers! See you guys next week. Thanks for reading!

Weekly Waves 34: Underrated Artists

This weeks playlist inspired by @bigredaferg highlights 14 underrated artists we hope you’ll enjoy.

 

In Times of Trouble: Great Books When You Are Down

Hello everyone, yesterday the terrible news came out that celebrity chef and tv host Anthony Bourdain had passed away. It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer Scott Hutchinson who had also passed away under duress. I’m immensely saddened by the loss of these people who came into our lives and shared a bit of themselves with us. The world can be hard and hurtful at times. Politics are a mess and people seem to be at each other’s throats over the most basic things. When the world seems extra heavy, there are a few good reads I like to take a time out with that always seem to brighten my mood and I’ll share them with you now.

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut is the tale of a 71year old painter, named Rabo Karabekian living in a 19 bedroom home he inherited from his late wife. He lets a writer move in named Circe, who actually writes under a pen name and is quit famous and successful. She eventually convinces Rabo to write an autobiography detailing his long and eventful life. The book is full of funny and heartbreaking stories from the streets of San Francisco as a young immigrant boy, to the European theater of World War II. It ends up as a lifting tale that I believe ranks with Vonnegut’s best work.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris is one of my all time favorite books. Sedaris is a humorist and essayist whom I was lucky enough to go to a reading in Dayton, Ohio when my wife bought me tickets for my 40th birthday. Sedaris signed a book for me and asked about my grandfather’s watch I was wearing. He added it into his signature in my book.

The book is chocked full of hilarious observations that start out pretty funny, but Sedaris can flip on a dime and it can be quite poignant as well. His stories often revolve around his middle class up bring in North Carolina or his hitchhiking across the country. His funniest stuff comes from a lot of the crap jobs he had while living in Chicago and New York, plus his endless, but charming quibbles with his boyfriend Hugh. However in this book the last 1/3 is dedicated to his battle to quit smoking and moving to Japan for 3months to accomplish it. I also have this book on audio, read by the author and I’ve listened to it numerous times. It’s a great companion on long drives by yourself.

If you’ve seen any of my other posts on Mid-American-Culture you may have read a couple of the Robert Frost posts I’ve done. He’s hands down my favorite poet and when the world has beaten me down, I’ll often settle down with a book of his poetry and be taken away to days on the farm around New England, or walking along the old stone wall. Here’s his poem After Apple Picking;

After Apple-Picking

BY ROBERT FROST

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree

Toward heaven still,

And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill

Beside it, and there may be two or three

Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight

I got from looking through a pane of glass

I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough

And held against the world of hoary grass.

It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take.

Magnified apples appear and disappear,

Stem end and blossom end,

And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.

I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin

The rumbling sound

Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much

Of apple-picking: I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.

For all

That struck the earth,

No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,

Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

Were he not gone,

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

Lastly Matt Fraction and David Aja had a spectacular run on Marvel’s Hawkeye where the title character and his alter ego Clint Barton battled countless Russian mob members and his own brand of depression. He reconnects with his brother Barney and has some help with his side kick Kate Bishop, AKA the other Hawkeye. Fraction delivers a tour de force character arc here and David Aja’s minimalist art is brilliant. I recommend this comic series to everyone I meet and I’ll suggest it to you as well. It’s always a great place to return too.

So there you go. Some great reads to dive into and get away from it all. But also, call your mom. Talk to your dad. Check on your friends, it’s a cold world sometimes and we could all use a hand. Don’t be ashamed of needing that hand. Someone can help you today and you return the favor tomorrow. It may sound cheesy but it works. Of course if you can’t find anyone else and you’ve reached your breaking point please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800- 273-8255. Take care everyone and keep up to date with more Mid-American-Culture.