Disappearing intricacies of a culture


The Blue Ridge Parkway: Beautiful mountain ranges; winding roads; broccoli- looking trees; rapid change in elevation makes you feel as if you are changing seasons in minutes; a quick picnic overlooking a valley to the West, and on we go.


We eventually turned off the parkway to save time and got back on the dreaded interstate. We hit a town called Pulaski and exited in search of an ice cream parlor. No such luck; Pulaski appeared to be a borderline uninhabited ghost town aside from the corporate businesses lining the highway. The downtown looked abandoned. There was an ice cream parlor but it wasn’t open, and neither was anything else around. “For sale”, “for rent” and “closed” signs littered the windows. The experience was actually quite disheartening as we were looking forward to exploring some random small towns, and support the locals and their business.  So it seemed the farther we drove the more we realized how bland this country is becoming. Town after town had traded their independently owned stores with the culture and uniqueness we were seeking, for Wal Marts, K Marts or McDonald’s, Taco Bell… It felt as if we were too late. What I had expected to find on this cross country adventure is nearly extinct. The differences from state to state are disappearing and being replaced with one national American corporate brand.

Even more disappointing was the entrance to the Smokey Mountains. We entered on the Tennessee side of the range in what appeared to be some strange mix of Disneyland and Vegas with an insane number of waffle houses and arcades.  I thought we were entering a national park!? Just when we thought we were safe,  the junk continued on further in the boundaries of the park! Capitalism never ceases to amaze me. Thank goodness there were no t-shirt shops or plastic dinosaurs at the campground. We did get to see a black bear cub…