Friday, March 20, 2009

Staycation Day 2: Out and About in K-Ville

I started Staycation Day 2 by oversleeping and standing Jeannie up for the gym. I felt a little bad about it, but she's done it to me more than once, so it's not the end of the world. I felt worse about missing exercise when I really need it, though, so I was glad that my plans for today started with a hike.

After yesterday's trip to the Gatlinburg Tourist Trap and Roadside Fun Zone (which, as Stan agreed, is still somehow not nearly as awful as Pigeon Forge), I decided that the theme for Day 2 of Spring Break Staycation 2009 would be "free stuff closer to home".

Free stuff idea number one: I decided that since it's been dry for about a week, I would go back to Mead's Quarry and hike the half of the trail that was too muddy and flooded out last time. The trail guide said it was moderate, and I skipped my gym time this morning, and I never got to see the rest of the quarry, so really this whole thing seemed like a win/win.

Until I got on the trail:

tharp trace trail

The half I missed last time? It's a half mile straight uphill at a 40 to 50 degree angle, the entire way. Obviously the trail guide and I have different definitions of the word "moderate" in that my definition doesn't include the words "gasping", "sweating", or "thinking about flinging myself over the side and into the quarry", but theirs clearly does. Granted, I could have just turned around and staggered back down, but I'm kind of stubborn.

About halfway up the mountain I stumbled into the Stanton Cemetary:

stanton cemetary

According to the sign, it was formerly the Johnson Family plot, and then became a community cemetary used mainly by quarry workers, who also fashioned many of their own headstones.

fallen homemade stone

They stopped burying there in the 1930's, and the cemetary has fallen into a severe state of disrepair. Many of the stones have toppled or are weathered to the point of being unreadable, but some of the markers are in surprisingly good shape:

Rebecca Davis

This pair, the former Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, is notable because the stones face opposite directions:

the johnsons

This is a symbolic reflection of their divorce.

After the cemetary, there was more of this:

more tharp trace

At this point I was like, "Are you kidding? Seriously? How can there be more uphill? I'm on top of the mountain. There can't be any more mountain. No more. No more uphill," but then I came around the corner to the first scenic lookout:

scenic overlook

The quarry is beautiful in the right lighting.

from Pinkston Pointe (2)

I want to go back again in the summer, to see it with green trees and blue sky, even if the climb up and down kills me.

Once I got done hiking the quarry, I decided to head to Free Stuff Idea Number Two: The Knoxville Museum of Art. Parking is free and the museum is free, so this idea was another win/win.

The exhibit of work by Josh Simpson, a glassblower, was gorgeous:


small worlds

large world

They had some of his pieces for sale in the gift shop, but even the little tiny ones are expensive because, you know, it's art. I had a great time at the museum, though, and decided to leave my car there while I went to the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center to find and photograph Free Stuff to See Idea Number Three:

the world's largest rubik's cube

That's the World's Largest Rubik's Cube. It was a gift to the City of Knoxville by the government of Hungary for the 1982 World's Fair, and when it's turned on the sides move and turn. It wasn't turned on when I was there, and rumor has it that it no longer works, but there was no one around to verify that, and I couldn't find an on switch.

Before I moved to Tennessee, I'd only been to the World's Largest State and the World's Largest Cabella's Sporting Goods Store, but now in just three short years I've managed to add the World's Largest Ten Commandments, the World's Largest New Testament, and the World's Largest Rubik's Cube. I swear, I'm only a ball of twine away from winning some kind of award for the World's Largest Tacky Achievement.

After the cube (will I measure my whole life this way from now on, as B.T.W.L.R.C. and A.T.W.L.R.C.?), I headed out for Free Stuff Idea Number Four: Go Walk Around Downtown. Every time I go there is new graffiti on Wall Avenue, so this idea is also always a win/win.

My original goal was to head for Yee Haw, the printing press, to get some notecards. I know that doesn't quite line up with my goal of not spending money, but they're never open on Sundays, which is usually when I go downtown. The car was still in the free parking at World's Fair Park, and I was squeezing in more exercise, so I figured it balanced out.

henley street walkway

On my way to Yee Haw I passed a sign at J's Mega Mart that said they were having a closeout sale on wigs, and, while I don't need a wig, I was curious:


They have hundreds of wigs. Hundreds.

more wigs

They'll be closing out forever before they get rid of all of those.

Anyway, I got my notecards and watched them run the printing presses at Yee Haw. I wandered past Wall Avenue:


and onto Market Square:


to see the new graffiti. I walked over to the courthouse and saw a couple getting married, walked through the square and saw someone playing the banjo, and mostly just walked and soaked up the nice weather. On the way back to the car I stopped at the Chocolate Factory to look around at their tasteful goods:

dolly pops

and then I headed home.

It was a good day, and there are more pictures on my page.

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