Monday, April 27, 2009

Gatlinburg – Part One

Flickr Photostream of the trip here – Check out the black David Hasselhoff!

Well, Sunny and I got back from our long weekend in Gatlinburg yesterday and we had an absolute blast.

Gatlinburg is somewhere I can describe, with confidence, as a 'bit strange'. If you're a Brit, it's easy to describe, it's like the bastard offspring of Blackpool and Southport. A flashing-light adorned tourist trap that isn't afraid to be really tacky…but I mean that in a good way.

During our first walk down Gatlinburg's mile and a half long main strip I discovered something interesting. Apart from the five or six big attractions that you actually travel to Gatlinburg to see, like the awesome aquarium or the Guinness World Records museum, Gatlinburg is honestly made up of the same five or six shops over and over. The really weird thing is that one group of these cloned stores sells swords, knives, stun guns and air-soft guns.

Who goes on vacation and thinks "Hmm, you know what would be an awesome souvenir? A 300,000 watt stun gun and a three foot daichi!"

One thing that quickly became a running gag was just how many 'old time photo' places there were. These are places where you get dressed up in Wild West style clothes, stand in front of a saloon or jail set and get a sepia tone picture taken. Bear in mind that the main strip was only about a mile and a half long…I counted eighteen separate 'old time photo' places.

Seriously, is there that much demand for old time pictures?

The big highlights for me were the Ripley's Aquarium and the 'Star Car' museum. The aquarium was absolutely amazing and the only let down was shortly after getting inside I realized I'd only brought my still camera and not my video camera. As anyone who's tried to take pictures at an aquarium will tell you, it's incredibly tough. Camera flashes don't penetrate water worth a damn and reflect of the side of the tank meaning you get a lot of pictures of the reflection of your own flash…but turn it off and you get all that awesome light and color…with the fish looking like nothing but blurs.

The only other big problem is I think the Giant Chinese Spider Crabs will give me nightmares for as long as I live. Those things are absolutely huge (in the six-foot wide, three foot tall category) and they look exactly like gigantic, armored spiders.

The Star Car museum managed to be both awesome and hilarious. It was a very strange mix of awesome iconic cars, cheap presentation and obvious filler.

For example, the Back to the Future DeLorean, the Michael Keaton era Batmobile, Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters and KITT from Knight Rider made me feel like I was five years old again. I wasn't too impressed with the BMW from 'The World is Not Enough'…but I peed a little when I saw that in a display case next to it they had the golden gun from 'The Man With the Golden Gun' (obviously) and the wrist dart-gun from Thunderball. When I saw that Ecto-1 (which is essentially my childhood made corporeal) had been signed on the roof lining by the entire ghostbusters cast…I sqee'd and peed a little at the same time.

The funny thing was that the overall presentation was absolutely laughable. From the things only nerds like me would notice (They had a Val Kilmer batman Mannequin next to Michael Keaton's Batmobile), to the plain and downright ridiculous. For example, the David Hasselhoff mannequin was black and the Tom Cruise mannequin movies appeared to have Sarah Palin's hair.

The thing that really made me laugh, however, were some of the cars that didn't really have the 'star' part to go with it.

For example, you walk through the doors and right away there's Bumblebee from the new Transformers movie and then you see KITT and Ecto-1. Then you see…a Lamborghini that once belonged to Mike Tyson…but that's not so bad because it's still an awesome looking car…you can appreciate it as a machine. However, then you go upstairs, and right next to the Batmobile there's a 2003 cadillac that Dolly Parton was once driven to an airport in. Then, next to a 50's army jeep (signed by Alan Alda from MASH) there's…wait for it…Anna Nicole Smith's Jaguar!

I mean, come on! If I see a car in the street and someone says "Anna Nicole used to own that", I'd find that mildly interesting. However, put that car next to KITT and Ecto-1 and I've moved into a whole new dimension of not giving a shit.

The last thing I really want to mention, just because it's so cool, was the Crystalix picture we got made to commemorate our anniversary. However, this is getting long and I have a video to post with that, so I'll leave that for next time.


Seacat said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time! Gatlinburg is such incredibly cheesy fun and there's always something new to see. Do they still have mystery hill? That was always one of my favs.
The aquarium pics turned out good. You may already know this, but I've found that if you take pics at as extreme an angle as possible, you either don't get a flash reflection or it's far enough to the side that you can crop it out of the picture. See you later,

Sunny said...

I still say we should have gotten an Old Time Photo done........everyone who visits Gatlinburg has one done....except me. LOL- I've never had the compulsion to have one done.....I'm a bit too uptight for that kind of thing.......YOU on the other hand, I would LOVE to have a pic of you as a wild west gunslinger. That would be DA BOMB!!

Oh well, Maybe next time.

marie said...

I sympathize w/the spider crab nightmares.Those things are freaky! B rated horror movie freaky.