There isn't a better place to grow up at other than Sevier County, Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains are absolutely breathtaking and they are right there in the palm of your hands. Everywhere you go, you are completely surrounded by nature and I can guarantee that your house has a view of the mountains.
As a kid, I couldn't wait to move and get out of this town, but the older I get the more I appreciate my hometown. This town is full of tons of entertainment to keep you busy, but with that comes challenges when being a local. By the way, I share this amazing town with someone you may know- she's sweeter than candy and has the voice of an angel. So, if you're ready, let me enlighten you on what it is like to live in Dolly Parton's hometown.
1. Dollywood is a must.
Of course, it's all about Dolly, but it is also the greatest amusement park in the South. Dollywood has all that you would expect, you've got what we like to call "down right good country cookin" to roller coasters and music galore.
Dolly's family can even be spotted around the park, for instance I met her Uncle Bill a few weeks ago and her brothers and sisters play music in the summer time. Dolly's family is really talented! My favorite part of Dollywood is the Dolly museum because it displays the hundreds of awards she has won. I could go on and on about how great Dollywood is, but until you've been you won't understand how special this place is.
2. The traffic is ALWAYS terrible.
People assume that Sevier County traffic is only frustrating during the summer season, but just so you know as of the 2013 population census is 93,750 people. With that amount of people, our daily traffic is never light. If you're leaving for work and go down the parkway, you need to leave 30 minutes to an hour early or take a back road to guarantee you will be on time. If you plan on visiting Sevier County, Tennessee, be prepared to sit in traffic.
3. Rod Run's aren't as cool as you think.
We have these special weekends every few months that are dedicated to old cars restored to their original beauty. Sounds awesome right? Well when you're in public school in this county, you get dismissed at two o'clock, because the school buses don't want to get stuck all of the excitement of the Rod Runs. If you're a local, you hate Rod Runs because all the excitement causes massive traffic that is standing still.
4. Our not-so-little southern town loves Jesus.
I promise that you will come across a little white church everywhere you go and I'm thankful for that. Going to church on Sunday and Wednesday is one of our sweet southern traditions here. If it wasn't for that little church I attended in Pigeon Forge, I would've never found my voice to sing and praise Jesus. So, If you don't belong to a church or are just visiting, I'm sure you'll find one here that makes you feel right at home.
5. You can never go wrong with The Mountain Lodge.
Oh, I can smell the curly fries now! The Mountain Lodge is a locally owned restaurant in Gatlinburg. It is the absolute best food you will ever come across. I went to this restaurant at least once a week with my best friends when I was in high school. If you love chicken tenders and curly fries as much as I do, this is is the place for you!
6. Dating ideas are slim to none.
Growing up as a teenager in this town was always hard because with all there is to do, it comes at a price. The question I heard the most when I was dating was, "What do you want to do?" Seems like a simple question, right? Well, I never knew what I wanted to do because once you had been to the movies a million times, go carting and put-putting you run of out of options unless you want to drop $50 for a dinner show. The simple girl I am is always stumped when asked this question, even just hanging out with friends. Now these days, my go-to idea is to drive through the National Park or go to Patriot Park and take casual walks like Noah and Allie would've taken in The Notebook.
7. You learn to appreciate your roots.
Sometimes I get all nostalgic when I'm driving through town because I'll see a small farm and get lost in the simplistic beauty of it. It may seem hard to imagine but our town used to be nothing but two lanes and farm land. I can't imagine anything more beautiful and sweet. In these moments, I can't help but appreciate that this is where God placed me. I found a picture of my great-grandparents, Ava Lee and Alvin, they were born in Pigeon Forge and married young and started a family. They experienced every change to our town and saw it develop into what it is now. I couldn't imagine how hard life was in a town that had nothing, but this picture I found, they still had smiles on their faces. I couldn't help but tear up because of how happy they looked.
Some of my friends wouldn't understand why I adore this picture so much. This is my family, they were hard working country folk. They are the kind of people that shaped our town. They inspire me to not take my hometown for granted because it is home. If you're lucky you may run into some elderly who lived through the developments of our town and I'm sure they have a story that will make you shed a tear or two.
I love Sevier County, Tennessee with my whole heart and I'm thankful it is my home. But, we need to go back to our roots and appreciate simpler times.