A sliver too small. We must return.

Tennessee’s Magic Kingdom began in Gatlinburg with yes, a Titanic Museum among the Hatfields and McCoys Dinner Feud theater; a NASCAR Speedpark; a year-round Christmas Shop and so much more. Oh, to explore here for a week…

We were all curious, but the store? attraction? was not open on this morning.

Smoky Mountain Hospitality

Just outside of the Magic Kingdom, the most-visited National Park in the U.S.

And it is easy to see why. A little like driving in the alps; except the informational signs were all in English. And there were no cows.

We waited in the (short) queue for the obligatory photo that “everyone” was taking. These two are such good sports.

If you have read but one of our day outing or road trip posts, you are well-versed in the importance we place on lunch. Really, sometimes lunch is the reason for the road trip. But where to stop in the middle of God’s green country? And, with CTF?

Enter Cherokee, North Carolina and its reservation. A little campy, but not unlike some of the border zone areas we encountered in Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Across from the Gold & Ruby Mine, BJ’s Diner! Best Burgers in Town! Only the most strict vegans (and we feel pretty certain there weren’t any within at least 100 miles of this place) could resist the aroma of fresh grilled burgers. Thinking we had found a “hidden gem,” I quickly realized we were late to the game.

My review title will read, “Come for Refreshingly Honest Opinions. Stay for the Burgers.”

More driving through the reservation to reach our destination for the evening, the Virginia city of Roanoke.  The “children” requested dinner at the Golden Corral that night. You see, we have a small history with GC. Once upon a time, Jack attended the annual summer Governor’s School at the University of Virginia for three years running; it is a two-week program for “smart” kids that explored a particular topic of interest in depth. Anna Grace attended once, as well, but then we moved across the pond…

Carrying on, we wandered into the GC on that first summer we drove him down, not realizing it was an “All-You-Can-Eat” Buffet, which normally I am opposed to, yet the one in Charlottesville was over-the-top clean and filled with friendly waitstaff, and we became fans. I never stray from the offerings: fried chicken and steamed corn, with an unsweetened iced tea on the side. Always.

Do not knock it until you have tried it.

Afterwards a quick splash in the hotel pool for the children, and spa time for Mom and Dad. Homeward bound across the Blue Ridge Parkway in the morning.