In May, Dolly Parton returned from promoting her new album, Blue Smoke, to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for the celebration she hosts every year: the Dollywood Homecoming Parade. Thousands gathered along the stretch of U.S. Route 441 known as Dolly Parton Parkway, from stoplight number six to stoplight number three. The devoted sat in strategically placed lawn chairs; the less eager watched from roadside hotel balconies. My boyfriend and I stood in the median of the parkway, opposite a spiraling bumper-car attraction, and watched as the first few floats passed: veterans, students, and an official contingent from the City of Pigeon Forge. A marching band played “9 to 5” and then [...]
The World’s Largest Ball of Twine might just be the most famous example of a certain kind of American roadside kitsch, although I can't figure out why. It’s not part of the funky, burned-out cars and wigwam motels along Route 66. It’s not in National Lampoon’s Vacation, which is where most of my road trip knowledge comes from. Was it in those Guinness Book of World Records paperbacks I used to read as a kid, next to an entry about the man with the world’s longest fingernails or the world’s fattest identical twins? I don’t know.
Two summers ago, my boyfriend Josh and I borrowed a Jeep from an overly [...]