7 Signs You Grew Up In Sevier County, Tennessee

7 Signs You Grew Up In Sevier County, Tennessee

What it's like growing up amid small town tourism.

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.

Cover Image Credit: Photopin

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.

I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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