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First Anniversary Trip

Our Wedding And Beyond

Celebrating our first anniversary was so much fun!
Our trip went like this:  West Virginia, Kentucky, middle Tennessee, Alabama, Eastern Tennessee, Virginia, home.  (We expected to make it further (Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina), but who knew Alabama would be so much fun!  We spent a week there alone!)

Jamie petting Junior - the 6'7" kangaroo at Kentucky Down Under.

Me being attacked by birds at Kentucky Down Under.

This is a video I recorded with our camera.  We were at the Space Museum in Alabama and we got caught in a freak storm.  The rain came on so fast we couldn't make it to the car.  We hid under a rocket ship and I just had to laugh.

View a select few of our honeymoon pictures here:
(You will have to copy and paste the link - as usual, clicking on it will not work.)

For Jamie's friends:  View his pictures here:
(You will have to copy and paste the link - as usual clicking on it will not work.)

May 27th:
We left about 6 p. m. after Jamie got home from work to get a head start on the driving.  You would think that not much would happen this day, but we still managed to have an adventure.  We bought GPS earlier this year, mostly for our road trip, but it's come in very handy for other things as well.  Anyway, I got the hotel's address off of their website and punched it into GPS.  Four hours later we arrive and it tells us to turn down a dead end street with absolutely no lights and no sign for the hotel.  We drive to the end and get really scared.  Jamie is thinking of House of Wax and I'm finding it weird that there's no sign.  So finally I call the hotel and it turns out they were four exits later!  Weird.  We find our way there and go to order pizza.  I tell the lady we are on Barnett Run Road she tells me they do not deliver there.  I tell her that they have things in the room advertising that they do.  I give her the phone number of the hotel and she says, "Yeah, you're on Meadow Brook Road".  Too weird.  Also, our GPS system lists hotels and stuff so I punched in the name of the hotel and it still came up with Barnett Run Road and told us to go back down the dead end street.  Very very bizarre.  This would only happen to us.  After we were safely in our room, we had to laugh.

May 28th:
Still in West Virginia.  I was worried about the weather even before we left.  We had perfect weather last year and I knew the chances of that happening again were slim.  We had had very rainy weather before we left, so I was expecting the same, but hoping for different.  What we got on this day was rain.  I was disappointed as it looked like it was just going to rain forever.  We went to find the tourist center listed in GPS and it took us down a road that didn't exist.  Apparently it's not very familiar with roads in West Virginia.  :)  We had found a few interesting things to do via brochures at the hotel, but all of them were in the opposite direction.  So we were sitting in the car trying to find something to do.  Jamie kept asking me if I wanted my gift and I kept telling him not until our anniversary.  Finally I could tell that he really wanted to give it to me so I said okay.  As it turns out it was the perfect gift - a book full of things to see and do in every state!
So I start flipping through and we decided to go to Valley State Falls - a state park with water falls.  I was getting a little concerned as it was taking forever to get there and GPS had us drive on a crazy, unpaved road that was so windy you couldn't see if anyone was coming, and was so skinny only one car would fit anyway.
Turns out the place is absolutely beautiful.  It was still raining and cold, so we're wearing jackets and sweatshirts trying to keep the camera dry.  I took 60 pictures there alone.  I never wanted to forget it so we headed back to the car to get the camcorder.  It started to rain harder, so we sat in the car and decided to wait out the rain.  As it turned to drizzle we got out and walked back to the water.  On our way back the sun came out and the temperature shot up.  Jackets and sweatshirts came off.  We finally left there and intended to go to a Fish Hatchery that was listed in the book, but when we called to get their street address, a machine picked up.  On our way to the next stop we stopped at the National Cemetary, which they had decked out with flags for Memorial Day.  We drove through just because it was such an amazing sight to see all the flags on every single grave stone.
We started heading further south towards a cave we wanted to see and along the way we kept seeing signs everywhere for a place called "Tamarack".  They did quilting and glass blowing there.  Jamie was very interested in going so we decided to go.  We had the hardest time finding the place.  Along the way I said, "This better be worth it!"  So then we pull up and Jamie says, "Yeah, this looks lame."  I said, "Oh no!  We're going in anyway!  We came all this way to get here."  Turns out it was just a mini - mall with original pieces of art work, wood carvings, etc.
We had dinner and went back to the hotel room where I couldn't wait to give Jamie his gift any longer either, so he got his.  I had been feeling sick all day (Jamie gave me his cold before we left) and it finally caught up with me, so I went off to bed.

May 29th:
Made it to Kentucky today.  We did not do much today.  We went to the Lost World Caverns, which was unique by itself because even though we've been to plenty of other caves, this one you were sent into by yourself.  There was minimal light and you were sent in with a fact sheet and a flashlight.  You really felt like an explorer.

May 30th:
Still in Kentucky.  Happy Anniversary to us!  We went to Boonesboro Fort today, which was so cool because you could actually see how it was like a mini town behind wooden walls.  It was neat to think that once you walked in, you'd have your house and there would be stores, and yet no one could get to you as there were guards and big walls around.  Very interesting.  With Boonesboro Fort you got admission to a museum which was further down the road.  This was a tour of an old house and you got to see how people used to live.  Very interesting because the granddaughter of the people that used to live there actually gave the tour.  She had so many stories, it was a lot of fun!  The house was right by the Kentucky Lock and Dam, which we walked down to and I got to stick my foot in Kentucky water!  :)
We went to the Jim Beam distillery since Jamie wanted to go.  Not much interest for me, but he liked it and we got some fun pictures.  It was interesting to read the history of the company though.
We had intended on going Horse Back Riding today so we show up at a place that I picked and the girl (after she finally comes up to see what we need) tells us to wait outside.  So we wait outside for fifteen minutes and then I hear someone behind us.  I turn around to see them shutting and locking the door.  They said absolutely nothing to us.  I was so angry that we left.  Turns out later on we came across another horse back riding place that was cheaper anyway.  We took a one hour tour and I felt horrible.  I felt like I was abusing the poor horse.  How did I know that he wanted to carry me up those hills?  I wouldn't have even wanted to walk up the hills myself let alone carry someone else.  I had fun with BlackJack (my horse), but I didn't realize how badly I would feel for the horses like they're just doomed to lug people around all day.  Jamie's horse was Blue.  He said he and Blue bonded and were "tight" at the end of the ride.  :)  I didn't take my camera as we didn't think I'd be able to get any pictures, but Jamie took some of me with his camera phone.  At one point the guy in front of me fell off of his horse when the saddle came loose.  The horse freaked as the guy was falling and tried to run off.  This scared BlackJack and all I could imagine was him freaking out, throwing me off and trampling on me.  Thankfully he remained calm and was a great horse. 
Since it was our anniversary, we had intended to go someplace different for dinner - a restaurant we had never been to before.  So I pulled up two different ones that GPS had listed and we drove to both of them, however neither one existed.  Weird.  We had driven by Sahara Steakhouse three times by now, so we just went there.  Okay food, but nothing spectacular.
We splurged on our hotel room tonight and got a room with a jacuzzi tub.  Very nice.  :)

May 31st:
Spent most of the day in Kentucky and made it to Tennessee by the end of the day.  Today we went to Kentucky Down Under.  This was the coolest thing we did, I think.  First we went through a cave that they had there, which was fun, but we've already done the cave thing now a couple of times, so it was nothing new, except we were the only ones there, so it was a very personal tour and the cave was infested with crickets.  Infested.  Yuck.  After the cave tour we went off to see the rest of what they had to offer.  First we got to feed birds, which was so much fun.  The guy gives you some neckter and lets you into the cage.  I was feeling brave for some weird reason and went in first.  The birds attacked me and Jamie could not get enough pictures.  It's a very odd feeling to have birds landing all over you if you've never had birds land on you before.  Too much fun!  Of course Jamie was all big and tough and calm while I was drawing attention from my screeches because more and more birds kept landing on me.  LOL.  We got to go into the kangaroo area and see a baby kangaroo being handraised.  We got to pet other kangaroos.  I only petted the baby though.  Jamie petted Junior, the big 6'7" kangaroo.  I was too much of a wimp to do so.  I'd seen some bad things on TV from people getting attacked by kangaroos.  The guy at the place tried to convince me that if he didn't want to get petted he would simply stand up and hop away, but I was happy taking pictures.  Next we went to the petting zoo where I met Bubbles.  He was so much fun and such a sweetheart.  However, the girl was trying to put a pony away and when she went to pull his door closed Bubbles walked in.  While trying to get him out all the other goats followed him in.  LOL.  He was so funny.  I really liked Bubbles.  We stayed there for awhile petting the rest of the animals.  We were at Kentucky Down Under for a good part of the day, but since everthing we wanted to see was on one road we were able to get through some other stuff.
We went off to Dinosaur World, which was very interesting.  These were dinosaurs made out of plastic and concrete, recreated to look as realistic (including size) as to what they looked like when they were living.  We had a lot of fun there and got tons of pictures.  I've left most of them out and am sharing the fun ones of me and Jamie.  :)  We spent a significant amount of time there too.
Next we went to the Wax Museum, which was freaky after seeing "House of Wax".  I could not believe the detail - down to the lines on the foreheads, the fingernails, and the creases of the knuckles.  The one that looked really bizarre was Kennedy.  The whole time while walking through I kept saying I couldn't believe how real they looked and Jamie said, "Kennedy doesn't look real."  He looked so ridiculous I had to laugh.  In the guest book I wrote, "What went wrong with Kennedy?"

June 1st:
Still in middle Tennessee.  We got more rain today though it was usually light.  We went to the Bellmont Mansion today which was interesting just because I love Mansions and love seeing how big they are and all the furniture in then.  This one had a sad story though.  The woman that owned it was married three times.  The first one was a very happy marriage, though three of their four children died before the age of 9.  Apparently that was common back in those times just from various diseases.  After her first husband died she got remarried and after a couple of years her second husband died.  Her third marriage was apparently not happy at all and her and her husband split up before she died at the age of 89 I believe.
Next we went to Carnton Plantation, which had a lot of history with it.  You got to see the Slave Quarters and also that house was used as a hospital during the Civil War where a battle took place right out on the field next to this lavish house.  The family that lived there also lost three children, I believe before the age of 10.  Very sad.  They showed you the rooms where the soldiers were brought up for surgery and this room was on the second floor.  There have been reports of the pile of amputated parts being so high outside that it reached up to the window, if you can imagine that.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside the Plantation, so I don't have any, but there were even blood stains that had soaked into the wooden floors.  They said at one point there were so many wounded soldiers there that they even used the teeny tiny closet under the stairs where they had two soldiers laying down and the tour guide said it was so small he wasn't even sure how one person would fit in there, so you can imagine how packed this house (also more like a mansion) would have been.
We had planned on going to a real "Sheep Attraction" where they show you how sheep dogs round up sheep and how they do the wooling, but it was closed due to equipment problems.  We were going to go to a fun farm with lots of attractions, but all the fun stuff only ran during the fall.  It rained almost all day and downpoured later in the day.  I had been sick since we left and my sore throat finally broke today.

June 2nd:
Left Tennessee today as there was really nothing to do in the middle part (despite Nashville being there) and made it to Alabama.  I was so excited today when I woke up.  The sun was shining and I thought we'd finally have nice weather, but it soon became overcast and the Weather Channel listed rain for every state close by.
We went to the Jack Daniel's Distillery today.  Jamie had wanted to go there since we even started talking about our trip back in January.  This was a very interesting tour, but the smell of the whiskey was so strong.  I got dizzy from the fumes just from the first building!
We went to the Old Jail Museum, which was neat, but nothing like the Old Jail in St. Augustine.  There were names and dates carved into the wall.  Some as far back as the early 1900's.
We made it to Alabama and it seemed as though Alabama was just flat.  All we saw was flat land for a long time.  I'm happy to say though that Alabama was a blast!  It was hot though.  Fifty miles away in Tennessee it was chilly and overcast, but in Alabama it was warm and sunny.  We went to the U. S. Space and Rocket Center.  This was a very interesting place.  I got to learn about all the Apollo missions, which I find very interesting.  They showed you the parts of a space shuttle - real parts.  There were space shuttle parts you could crawl in, rides, and you could even try your hand at landing a space shuttle.  I crashed the first time, but landed the second.  Jamie went around bragging for the rest of the day that he was able to land a space ship.  :)  We went outside about fifteen minutes before they closed and were going to get on one of the rides, but the one I wanted to ride was closed.  We went off to get pictures of the space shuttles and rockets that were outside and just as I was trying to get a picture I hear this pounding noise creeping up behind me.  I turn around and could see this downpour coming right at me.  Jamie was around on the other side looking at something and I told him I'd be right over.  So I tried to get a picture of the sky because where I was standing it was clear but a few feet away it was dark and cloudy.  I got a picture of the dark and cloudy but by the the time I tried to get a picture of the clear sky it was pouring on me.  I ran over to Jamie and I didn't want to leave as I was hoping that the rain would stop so I could finish getting pictures of the rest of the space shuttles.  So we hid under a rocket to try to wait out the rain.  It was dry under there until it started to flood.  The rain just came pouring in.  It kept our heads dry, but it was a low lying area and it started to flood on the ground.  Jamie kept wanting to make a run for it, but I just wanted to wait it out.  We finally got joined by another couple that had hidden under a space shuttle until the rain started running off of it and dripping on them so they ran to the rocket where we were.  I finally decided we would run to the car and we got absolutely drenched.  By the time we got to the car the rain had stopped and the sun had come out.  Figures.  Anyway, there's a small video I taped with our camera during the downpour, if you're interested in watching it, click the link above.
We went and got a hotel room while we watched some very suspiscious looking clouds from not too far away from out our window.  Jamie said they looked like tornado forming clouds, so I spent awhile peeking out our window to see if a tornado had formed yet.  Thankfully, it did not.  :)

June 3rd:
Still in Alabama.  We got up early today.  We went to Wal-Mart to get batteries for the camera and an umbrella.  When we went in I was wearing a sweater as it was chilly.  We came out about fifteen minutes later and it was scorching hot.  How does the temperature change so fast in Alabama?  The Wilson Dam was listed as a neat place to visit.  We spent awhile trying to find it and when we finally did it was no big deal as you couldn't even get semi close to it.  They had the visitor center closed.  Of course they did, why wouldn't they?  We took a short trail that lead through the woods there in an attempt to get a little closer and came across a little water fall that dropped water right onto the road.  Very weird.
The pedestrian Bridge was listed as a historical monument.  Trains used to drive on the upper part years ago while pedestrians would walk on the bottom level.  Now it's closed to all traffic, but you can still walk across it.  It goes across the Tennessee River and it was beautiful there.  The view is just amazing.  We spent awhile there alone.  As you walk on and off of the bridge there was a wall that had been put up with everyone's name listed on it that had donated to help keep the bridge up.  Of course someone with nothing better to do had come by and spray painted all over the wall and over the names.  Sad really.  By the time we got off of it I was sweating so badly from the heat.
We went to Helen Keller's birthplace where it got hotter.  I was trying to decide whether or not to go there and finally decided we would as I was always fascinated with her story.  It was an interesting tour and especially neat to get to see old pictures of her from childhood to old age.  By the time we left I had to change into shorts in the car.  It was ridiculously hot.
We went off to the Dismal Canyons, which was listed in the book Jamie had gotten me.  I wanted to go there because of the water fall that was there.  I did not know that it was a long hiking trail with a fact sheet where you could learn about all the boulders and where the Indians would hide, cook, hold dances, etc.  This took awhile just to walk the whole trail, but it was really worth it, I thought.  It was so interesting.  And you would just look up and see these two gigantic boulders leaning against each other over top of your head and think about how an Earth tremour could make them move.
We left and headed to the Natural Bridge.  This was a big boulder that over time had most of it eroded away by the water constantly coming in contact with it and it created a natural bridge.  It's hard to see in the pictures but the bridge is about 3/4 as tall as the trees that surrounds it.  That's really tall to think that at one point water was up that high and covered so much land.  We did more hiking as we walked all around the bridge.  They had the nicest guy working in the gift shop who told us about the bridge, answered my questions about the cat I had seen outside and given some water to (turns out it was his and he just ran around outside), asked us about our trip, and then wished us well and told us to drive safely.  We talked about him for the rest of our trip.  He was so sweet.  Here Jamie bought a shot glass that said, "Smile when you say Alabama" so for the rest of the trip everytime I said "Alabama" he always said in a jokingly mean way, "You smile when you say Alabama, darn you!"  It became a joke between us.  :)
There were so many things we wanted to see in Alabama so we tried to squeeze in as many things in a single day as we could.  So off we went to the Covered bridge.  You wouldn't think that would be interesting, but it was.  A lot of history there.  They told you the story of the bridge and how it had almost been washed away and then been restored in 1975.  Unfortunately it had been vandalized and spray painted all over, which is ridiculous.  People need better things to do.  There was an old water wheel behind it that had a private house built right next to it.  There was a pond behind the bridge, which we went to see and saw some snapping turtles swimming around.
On our way to our hotel room we encountered our first near death experience.  Jamie went around a turn on a mountain way too fast and nearly swerved off the road.  I was less than thrilled with him and he slowed down after that.

June 4th:
Still in Alabama.  Today we went to the Ave Maria Grotto.  The Grotto is a bunch of religious places that have been made as miniature versions of themselves.  The guy who worked on this project spent most of his life recreating the places not from actually visiting the places, but from pictures and stories from friends.  The detail on the sculptures was amazing.
We went to Cook's Natural Museum, which is right next to Cook's Pest Control.  Apparently the Museum got started after Mr. Cook started saving bugs to use to train his employees.  It's grown from there and today they have birds, mammals, insects, etc.  This isn't really the place for me as I believe that killing for display is ridiculous, so I tried to skip past the animal part quickly.
We went to the Madison County Nature Trail, which was just more hiking, but it was really cool.  While hiking we came across a wooden chapel in the woods.  I set up the camera and told Jamie to pose like we were renewing our vows.  :)  I love that picture.  I told him that if we ever do renew our vows we should do it there.  The little chapel is just the cutest - with everything wooden (there's a picture on the home page and also in my pictures above).  Also, there was an old log cabin in the woods, which was cool.  The story behind it was interesting.  This guy George got married and he was taking his wife somehwere when she went into labor.  He decided to stop where they were (Madison County) and settle down there.  They had three children and then his wife died.  He remarried a few years later and ended up having thirteen kids total!  Yikes!
On the front of the Tourist Attraction booklet there was a picture for the Unclaimed Baggage Center.  Inside was a blurb about how the place had been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, and The Late Show.  I thought it would be a really cool place to walk through and see all the things that people left behind.  I expected it to be a museum type of a place with old artifacts and family heirlooms - unusual things that you wouldn't be able to find anyplace else.  So I show up with camera in hand prepared to take pictures.  It had to be great!  It was on the cover of the tourist attraction pamphlet, it had been featured on three highly rated shows, and there were at least five huge signs in the town leading to it.  I was really looking forward to this all day.  I couldn't wait to get there.  We walk in and it's a freakin' goodwill store.  There is no museum.  There are no unusual items.  There are stuffed animals, toys, clothes, electronics.  Big deal.  And the worst part is it's not even all stuff that people left behind.  There were a lot of things that they got shipped in as they had multiple items of the same color with the price tags still on.  We went out of our way to get here and we were so shocked that all we could do is shake our heads and laugh.  What a let down.  Also, how terribly sad that the town is known for a goodwill store.
Next we went to Little River Falls Canyon.  This was an amazing place.  The views were amazing.  In some places you could see water falls, in others you could only see the river, in others it was just trees.  It was a driving tour that was really long and you drove from one end to the other with stops along the way.  So beautiful.  We did not get to see it all as some guy had fallen off of the cliff and had to be helicoptered out.  They had the road from there on back blocked off.
Saved a turtle today.  He was in the middle of the street.  Jamie stopped, I jumped out, grabbed him, put him in the grass, and off we went (no traffic around, of course).

June 5th:
Still in Alabama.  I wanted to see the rest of Little River Falls Canyon so we got up early today and went back to see the rest.  By now Jamie is so scared from the other guy falling off that he won't let me out of his sight and he wants me to stay far back from the rails.  We went through to finish seeing the rest of the sights and at the end of the trail it had another trail with a warning sign saying the road was steep and windy and that RV's and trailers would not be able to make it down.  We decided to be adventurous.  The final destination was just okay, nothing to write home about, and not worth the 11 mile drive, but getting there was an adventure in itself.  We were on a dirt road, as I mentioned - very steep and by the time we finally got to the end you could smell the brakes.  There were times when you went up a hill and when you got to the top the hill down was so steep it seemed as though the road just dropped off into nothingness.  That's enough to give you a good scare the first few times.  While driving Jamie saw a wild turkey by the woods, but by the time I looked he had already run away.  We saw the most beautiful bird, possibly a hawk, but he was so fast I couldn't get a picture of him.  He seemed to have brown feathers with a very pretty pattern.  It was so funny because when he flew away he didn't go into the woods or over the trees, he flew right over the roadway.  :)  He can go anywhere, and he sticks to the road.
I saved another turtle today.  I had to jump back in the car very quickly as there was a car coming up behind us.  As we drove away a tractor trailer came roaring down the street in the lane the turtle had just been in.  I'm sure if I hadn't moved the turtle, he would've been killed.  :(
We brought a ghost with us.  He's been playing with the radio changing the stations since we left.  Today he changed it from 88.7 to 99.3 while we were sitting there.  :-/
We went to Cathedral Caverns today. We had already thought if you've seen one cave you've seen them all, but this one seemed so interesting we had to go.  Turned out not all caves are the same.  This is the first cave we've been to that you got to in through the natural opening and the cave was HUGE.  Much, much bigger than the other caves we've been in.  Our tour guide, Danny, was a blast.  He picked on me a lot as we were from Baltimore and he asked what kind of language we spoke and tried to teach us Alabama's language.  :)  We saw a shape that looked like a skull and asked him about it.  He said that was the last person from Baltimore that got on his nerves.  LOL.
We went to the Anniston Museum of Natural History.  We get there at 4:20 and they close at 5:00.  No big deal.  The lady stresses to us that we have to be out by five.  Okay!  She tells us we have 15 minutes.  Ha.  Yeah right.  We clearly have 40.  We did make it through just fine, we stopped at exhibits that interested us and passed the ones that did not.  There were more stuffed, posed animals, which again is not something I'm really into, but we did get to learn about other things as well.  It was interesting anyway.
We headed off to Cheaha State Park.  On our way I saved another turtle (the last one of the trip).  He was different from the others because he was the friendliest.  Instead of hiding in his shell when he saw me he stuck his head and arms and legs out as far as he could to see me.  He was so cute.  I miss that turtle.  I wanted to take him home, but Jamie said no because we still had 8 more days on the road.  I set him in the grass by a mini stream and off we went.
We did a lot of Parks this time around.  If Jamie got tired of them, he never said anything.  We didn't really get out to see the view as it wasn't really anything we hadn't already seen.  But at the park they had camping, a hotel, and a restaurant.  The room rates were very reasonable, but they only had double beds or king beds with smoking.  We weren't about to cram into a double bed and I was not sleeping in a room where everything smelled filthy from cigarette smoke.  I knew it would irritate my lungs all night so we said no way.  We did eat at their restaurant though and it was amazing.  We were seated right by the window where you could look out over top of the trees and the mountains.  They had great food for great prices.  Our plates were piled with food.  We also splurged and got dessert.  Very nice dinner.  We stayed there for awhile and we left about five minutes before they were closing (8:00 - it was Sunday).  We needed gas on the way up, but there's no place to stop on a mountain, so when we left I said we needed to find a room for the night and Jamie said we needed gas.  Now here's where it gets interesting.
He pulls up the nearest gas station from our GPS.  Nine miles away.  You have the choice of doing shortest time, shortest distance, least use of freeways, or most use of freeways.  We had learned previously on the trip not to do shortest distance because it will take you the craziest, most untraveled roads you could ever find.  We always do shortest time.  Jamie accidentally hit shortest distance and didn't realize it.  Instead of going down the normal road that we came up, it took us a crazy way down dirt roads.  Meanwhile by now, we are driving in the middle of a mountain, the sun is rapidly setting, and it's getting darker and darker.  We are running out of gas (though Jamie tells me we can make it 50 miles once the low gas warning light comes on), and we haven't seen anyone since we left the restaurant.  I really thought we were going to die tonight.  We are traveling down the mountain on the dirt road.  GPS keeps losing us as when you go off of the road it says, "Proceed to route."  Now it will find you and tell you where to go if you are on a road that it has listed on it's map.  But the map isn't exactly the same as the side dirt roads so it would say we weren't on the road when we really were and therefore it would tell us to proceed to route.  It finds us and we come to an intersection.  It appears as though GPS is telling us to go straight (there are no street signs, of course).  We go straight.  The road gets worse.  There are big, huge ruts in the middle of the road that were the width of the road most of the time so you couldn't just miss them.  Driving through them made the car creak.  We hit the bottom of the car so many times on those ruts I was sure we were going to break something and be stranded (of course neither one of us had a signal on our cell phone at that point).  There were literally ponds of standing water you had to drive through.  Half way down the road GPS tells us we're on the wrong road and to make a U-turn.  There is no place to make a U-turn.  We keep going.  We get to the end of the road - it's a dead end.  We now have a place to turn around and do so.  I am petrified at this point.  Our nine mile trip to the nearest gas station has taken us out of our way, there is no one around, no lights, no sign of anyone.  We now have to back track through the worst road of our trip and I am convinced that we are going to break an axle on those damn ruts and be stuck.  I was sure if we didn't run out of gas and get murdered we were going to break something on the car and thus get murdered.  Jamie is apologizing every minute for doing shortest distance and for scaring me.  He is telling me that we have enough gas and we'll be fine.  I end up crying because I am so scared.  We back track back up the dead end street and get back to the fork in the road.  We take the correct road - still dirt and gravel, but at least chances of breaking an axle are minimum.  GPS tells us we are on the wrong road and to make a U-turn.  By now I'm freaking out.  GPS is trying to get us killed by making us go down rut hell in the dead end street.  Half way down the normal street it tells us we are on the right road.  I suppose the roads were literally so close together that it thought we were on one when we were really on the other.  We come to the first house we have seen since we left the restaurant.  It is really dark and out runs a tiny dog straight in front of our car barking at us going crazy.  Jamie slams on the brakes.  Another dog comes out and then another.  All three of them are barking at us, they are in front of us and not one person from the house in which they belonged came out to check up on them or to see what the commotion was.  I was so livid at this point.  I understand that they live on a road that's not traveled very often, but they should still have a fence to keep the dogs off of the street.  We could have easily hit and killed those dogs.  I'm even more upset that my friend, Estelle loses her cat, Max, accidentally and these owners have three dogs that they just let roam around without caring.  I said this to Jamie.  Life is just not fair.  Good pet owners suffer more than the bad ones.  Now it's dark and we can't really see the dogs, plus they are small, so it makes it harder.  Jamie finally sees all three and hits the gas he takes off and we are doing 30 mph down the street and he said one of the dogs was keeping up with him running right along side the car.  Finally we lose them and go about our way - still running out of gas, me scared to death, me crying, and still on a dirt and gravel road which no one travels.  I finally see the city lights through the trees - but in a distance.  I am watching the gas tank, the little line is now directly on "E".  We did make it to the gas station thankfully, and we obviously survived, but I've never been so scared before.

June 6th:
Still in Alabama.  We got up early today with the intention of doing laundry, but decided that was boring and time consuming, so instead we went out and bought enough clothes to finish out the rest of our trip.  I tried on six pairs of shorts and none of them fit.  Finally I got annoyed, put them back and bought some of the sporty, most comfortable shorts ever.  I lived in them for the rest of the trip.
I, of course, was in charge of finding all the interesting things to do on the trip.  Now I could have just picked things that interested me, but that would be rude, so I picked things for Jamie too.  I found a blurb for the International Motor Sports Museum and that's where we went today.  It was right by Talladega Speedway, which worked out well since Jamie wanted to go there.  We got to tour the track first, which was interesting.  They put up a sign before you purchase tickets that says that the bus does not take a lap on the track, which I thought was pretty ridiculous until you get out there and realize why.  The banks are steep.  Really steep.  I believe they said (and I could be wrong) that you had to be going 75 mph to be able to drive on the banks otherwise gravity would force you to the bottom.  So we're driving and the tour guide (bus driver) says, "Everyone often asks why we can't go on the track, well it's because they put restrictor plates on the bus and I can only do 35 mph."  Everyone laughed.  If you're into Nascar, you'll get that one.  :)  Jamie got to stand in the Winner's Circle, which was cool.  The stupid gift shop though had clothing for all Nascar drivers except Ryan Newman.  I was not pleased.
The museum was interesting.  They have all the drivers of all motorsports that have been inducted into the hall of fame and the trophies have their faces laser engraved on them.  Very neat.  They had a little go-cart there for kids that ran 152+ mph.  Jamie was not interested in it until I read the sign.  He just did not believe that and said that he would not want to be the one driving that thing.  Again, this is just a Go-Cart, there is no head protection. That picture is in Jamie's pictures above for anyone who wants to see it.  There was also one race car there that you could get your pictures in, and those pictures are in both of our pictures above.  That was fun.  They also had an Earnhardt Sr. wing, which of course Jamie liked.  They had pictures of him from when he was a baby and a child, which were so cool to see.  Those pictures are in Jamie's pictures.
Next we went to Old Cahawba.  This was a ghost town.  Jamie said it wasn't exactly what he imagined from the blurb we read about it in the book, but I really enjoyed it.  The story with Old Cahawba is that it was the first capitol of Alabama.  Until rumors started going around that it was susceptible to flooding and people quickly left and went to the new capitol.  Shortly after that when people realized they were just rumors, they started coming back Cahawba, but by that point so many people had already left that it became a ghost town.  Now you can see some parts of buildings left.  There are chimneys, part of a church, brick rubble left in a pile.  The only problem was that the bugs were awful.  We kept getting attacked by tons of bugs.  We did most of the tour while staying in the car and when we got to the old graveyard, I decided I wanted to get out and walk through because it was so old.  I get attacked by a huge black bug right in my head.  I freak out and swat at it.  My hand catches on my necklace, my necklace comes off, and my rings fall to the ground (my fingers were so swollen from the heat that for most of the trip I had to wear my rings on my necklace).  Thankfully I grabbed them up and my necklace did not break.  Shortly after that I got attacked again by bugs and decided I'd had enough.  There were also huge, huge fire ant piles.  At least six inches high.  Some even up to a foot.  It was absurd.  Old Cahawba is totally infested with fire ants.  I watched a bad thing on the Discovery Channel one time about how fire ants can totally take over an animal or a person and devour their whole body within minutes.  We watched where we were going and did not mess around with fire ants.  We did get to see some baby armidillos.  I had never seen one before, I had no idea what they were until Jamie told me.  Their outer shell looked like rubber.  They were just hopping along eating ants (they'll never run out of food, I swear!).  They did not seem to notice us no matter how close we got with the car.  The very nice guy at the welcome center of Old Cahawba told us that armidillos have very bad eye sight and very bad hearing.  They will only hear you if you walk right up to them and scream.  Then they will jump and run away.  That's why we saw so many dead ones on the side of the road.
It was hot, hot, hot today.  Then it rained, then it was cool.  You cannot keep up with the weather in Alabama.  (Smile when you say Alabama!)  :)  It can literally change from minute to minute.
We tried a little neighborhood joint for dinner called Jim's Restaurant.  So great.  I debated about what to get and finally got a chef salad.  It was the best chef salad I've ever had.  They didn't just throw lunchmeat on top, they put actual pieces of meat and bacon on top.  It was so yummy.  Jamie got a club sandwich and the same thing - no lunchmeat there - all pieces of real turkey, ham, and beef.  Great, great food.  I would definitely go back if we were to ever be in the area ever again!

June 7th:
Still in Alabama.  We had big plans of beating on the door of the Montgomery Zoo as soon as they opened at 9:00.  That did not quite happen.  While I was checking out of the hotel, Jamie went to the car to find it infested with ants.  :-/  I will say that it was my fault as I had left donuts (a snack for the trip) and pizza (dinner from earlier) in the car.  Eeeek.  So off we went to Wal-Mart to get ant spray where I fully warned the ants to leave or else their little deamon bodies would burn in hell.  They did not leave.  So I happily sprayed them until all were dead.  (I HATE ants.)  We went to a gas station where we threw away all food and trash and where I happily vacuumed up their lifeless bodies.  We fixed a consistent flat tire that we kept getting and at 11:00 finally left to go to the zoo.  Either way, there was no way to beat the heat.  By 8:30 a. m. (when we left our hotel - so probably even earlier) it was already horrendously hot.
The zoo was a blast.  One of the major selling points of the zoo is that all the animals are not caged up.  They have "natural" habitats where they roam with other animals that they would encounter in the wild.  They all have big bamboo umbrellas to lay under (which were all used greedily this day, I must say, to escape the heat).  Some of them had water falls, almost all had ponds.  Of course the tigers and lions were held into their areas by glass, and the monkeys (some of them) were in large cages, but it really was different from other zoos.  I truly enjoyed the zoo and all the different areas they had.  "You are now entering South America."  "You are now entering Asia."  "You are now entering Australia.", but the heat really got to me.  We spent two hours there and I really wasn't sure I was even going to make it back to the car without passing out.  Jamie got really worried as I was having difficulty even breathing.  He sat me down by the cheetahs and made me rest.  We went to the restaurant to get some food, and you would think that it would be nice and cool there as it was indoors, but nope.  He kept dripping water on my head and down my back, and made sure I was drinking enough (despite the fact that very oddly I did not feel thirsty at all - and I'm usually always thirsty).  I did make it back to the gift shop though where it was air conditioned and then we went to car and turned on the air conditioning.  It took awhile for me to cool down and feel normal again.
We went to Hank Williams' Grave today, which Jamie wanted to see.  The headstones (his and his wifes) are huge (pictures in Jamie's pictures above), but I stayed in the car and away from the heat while Jamie looked at them.  Just from looking at the pictures, I could see that the detail was amazing.  The statue of Hank Williams was not too far away so we went off to see that.
When we left for our trip we had intended to go to St. Augustine since we wanted to do the lighthouse tours that we did not do last year.  We were obviously quickly running out of time with a long list of things we wanted to do in Eastern Tennessee, so we had decided by this time that we were going to skip Florida all together since it wasn't worth driving 300 miles to do one thing.  So after fulfilling almost everything we wanted to do in Alabama (I wanted to go to a Coon Dog Cemetary, which was supposed to be so cool with dedications to the dogs and unique headstones, but Jamie deemed it too far out of the way), we turned around and headed back towards Chattanooga.  I was happy to leave the sweltering heat behind.
Jamie made a U-turn today so we could save a turtle that was on the side of the road, but when we got to him, we realized that he had already been hit.  :(  :(
I knew we'd be out in the sun for awhile what with the zoo and all, so I had Jamie rub my shoulders, neck, and chest with SPF 50 sunblock - the only thing that works for my very fair skin.  I didn't worry about my legs as I could lay out for four days and nothing would happen to my legs.  Well we get a hotel for the night (in Chattanooga) and I realize that the sun had penetrated through the SPF 50 (!!) and still managed to burn me a little on my shoulders and neck.  Stupid sun!  Not only that but it burned me behind my knees.  This happened two years ago when we were in Ocean City.  My whole legs are pale - the same paleness from top to bottom.  I don't get burnt on the front or on the back of my calves or my thighs, but the sun must directly target the back of my knees, but darn if it hasn't burnt me there twice now.  How exactly does that happen?

June 8th:
We are in Tennessee.  I had wanted to take a train ride last year, but we missed the last one of the day and knew we wouldn't be around the next day to do it, so I made sure we got to do one this year.  The train ride was pretty fun, though not nearly what I expected.  We did take the ride down to the other stop, where the front of the train got on the "lazy susan" where it turned around and then went back to hook up to the rest of the train.  Jamie did enjoy it thoroughly though, since it was a real steam run train, so I'm happy for that.
We went back to Point Park today (skipped the Incline Railway) to try to recreate my favorite pictures of us from last year - which were us holding hands and kissing above the tremendous view of Tennessee.  That did not work out as all the pictures had a shadow over our faces.  I was disappointed and no matter how many times we tried to redo the pictures, they all came out the same, so we left.  Hot, hot, hot today.  It was not this hot last year as I was wearing jeans last year, and today I was wearing shorts.
We went to a Dragon Gift Shop and Museum today, which Jamie was so excited about.  They had so many things there in the store, but the Museum was interesting - especially the "Fun Room" where they had all the dragon toys and dragon stuffed animals.  :)
This night we went on a cruise of the Tennessee River (we had already driven by it, over top of it, walked over top of it, we might as well sail on it).  The dinner was amazing.  The food on the cruise ships here that sail on the Inner Harbour is not that great, so I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was.  We spent some time outside enjoying the view, and then went back inside for the magic show (for kids), which Jamie greatly enjoyed.  We caught onto a few mistakes, that as kids you would just never notice.  Then they started playing music and the incredibly tiny dance floor opened up.  I got Jamie to dance to two slow songs.  :)

June 9th:
Still in Tennessee.  I had read about Buck Bald Mountain and how you could apparently see seven states from the top.  Jamie did not believe that, but I had to see it anyway.  It took us awhile to find it and when we did, the dirt road was less than desirable.  There was only enough room for one car and there was no guard rail or room to pull over.  On one side you had the mountain and on the other side you had a straight fall down.  I'm not sure if it's good or bad that we never came across anyone else while going up or down.  Jamie complained the whole time again about how we would definitely need brakes after the trip.  :)  Very steep declines.  The view from the top was amazing.  I wouldn't say you could see seven states, but it was invigirating to be at the top of a mountain.  It was completely flat and there were picnic areas and a grill.  I could have stayed there all day if we didn't have other stuff to do and if there weren't two guys up there cutting the grass.  On the way down we hit two muddy parts where it felt like we were fishtailing.  I thought for sure we were going to catapault down the side of the mountain.  Thankfully we did not.  Though we did gain a bug friend who was a grasshopper I suspect of some kind.  I had never seen a bug like him before and he just appeared on our windshield right in front of me.  He wouldn't hop or fly away and the couple of times that Jamie sped up he was having such a hard time holding on.  I didn't want him to get blown away and land on the ground to his death, so I would scream everytime he was losing grip, and wouldn't let Jamie go more than 30 mph.  This probably sounds ridiculous.  But this bug rode on our windshield for so long (all the way down the mountain and up the connecting street) that he became important and I wanted to make sure he arrived safely at our next stop.  Which he did, and then Jamie gave him a little push to help him on his way.  :)
We went back to the Lost Sea because Jamie really wanted to do it again because he was so upset that he didn't video tape it last year.  When we pulled up there were a gazillion kids standing outside from the YMCA carrying on and being loud.  I was wondering how long the wait was going to be to get a tour, but thankfully they had already gone through.  This time was actually much more fun.  Our tour guide took us out much further on the water, kept us out there longer, and fed the fish a lot more.  We got to see a ton of fish this year, whereas last year we saw maybe only fifteen fish.
Next we went to Mayfield's Dairy Farm where we got to walk through their plant and see how milk and ice cream are packaged.  It was towards the end of the day and they were cleaning up, so it was kind of boring, but the ice cream we had afterwards was great!  We don't have Mayfield products here because they only ship them out to surrounding states.  We'd never even heard of them, but the ice cream was great and was only a dollar!  So we relaxed out on their patio and ate our ice cream.

June 10th:
We're still in Tennessee.  We finally got up early and went to the Museum of Science and Energy.  I thought this would be something that Jamie would enjoy, but I expected it to be dealing more with mechanics and stuff that he works with (that's what it sounded like in the brochure), but instead it was a museum telling about the start and the past of Oak Ridge, Tennessee (where we were at) and a learning (and playing) area for kids dealing with bugs and stuff and there were brain teasers to work on.  But even we had fun.  We spent a lot of time learning about the past of Oak Ridge.  It was so interesting because the place was so small and hardly inhibited until the government decided that they needed a top secret place to start working on the atomic bomb for WWII.  They came in and took over Oak Ridge.  The city was completely surrounded by fences, and anyone over the age of twelve was required to have an identification badge on them at all times.  This was fascinating to me and I couldn't stop reading about it.  Jamie and I worked on the brain teasers and we were each having troubles with one, so when we figured them out we got pictures.  Actually I jumped up and down saying, "I did it!  I did it!" and then got a picture.
The kids area was a lot of fun and we spent most of our time there.  We were really the only ones around, and had a lot of fun.  We got some great pictures too.
We also got to find out how much each of us weighs in bugs.  Very fun.  :)
2,660,943,616 fleas (wow!)
35,443,768 small ants
9,764,547 house flies
340,695 June beetles
4,125 scorpians
1,700,491,392 fleas
22,650,544 small ants
6,247,394 house flies
217,723 June beetles
2,628 scorpians
Next we headed off to the War Dog Monument, which I had read about.  It was a quick stop, but very neat.  This statue was actually put up to remember the Marine Dogs who had given up their lives in Guam in 1944.  They listed all 25 dogs' names on the monument and had a little blurb about it.  It was very inspiring to see that others recognize how valuable animals are.
After this we went to a Deer Farm, which was where you could pet and feed deer, zebras, goats, etc.  I am always terrified of feeding animals - sure that they're going to bite my hands, so I'm very selective about who I'll feed, meanwhile Jamie feeds everything.  He fed a camel and camels scare me.  They are huge.  They could bite my whole hand off.  I tried to feed one, but ended up standing there for five minutes trying to get up my courage before Jamie told me not to worry about it and I told him that I just couldn't do it.  There were a lot of deer there and most were covered in flies.  So when we left I asked the people inside if they do anything for the deer and they said they spray them sometimes, but it doesn't seem to do any good.  I'm thinking a bug zapper would be an awesome investment to make.  Think about how many flies they could kill off!  I just felt so bad for the deer.  No animal should have to live like that!  Plus one of the deer had open sores where the flies were hanging out and bothering his skin so much that he had bald spots.  That really bothered me.  I felt so badly for him.
Next we went to the Tennessee Aviation Museum.  This was for Jamie as I really had no interest in it, but I know he did, and he did enjoy it.  We went back to the Pigeon River Inn and ended up getting the same room we got last year with the heart shaped hot tub.  We went on a lame (very lame) ghost tour and then went back to the hotel room and got in the tub and ate ice cream.  :)

June 11th:
Still in Tennessee.  We had planned on hanging around Galinburg today and tried to keep the same room at the Pigeon River Inn, but they had suddenly raised the price $30! and management apparently wanted to be greedy and wanted to get all the money they could for it.  We refused to pay the now ridiculous price, so we checked out.  There was a lot I wanted to do.  However, it was really over crowded.  I don't like waiting in lines and I don't like being surrounded by a lot of people and having to push your way through.  I looked back over what we had planned on doing, and it just didn't seem worth it to me anymore, so we decided to skip Gatlinburg all together.
We drove over to a place where we were supposed to get a map of where to tour to learn the histories of the Smokey Mountains, but they were closed, and I should have called ahead, but I did not.
We were going to go to a fish hatchery, but I had left a message earlier that day and never got a phone call (not even to this day as I write this)!
We were on our way to a Gem Mining place when a deer jumped out in front of us.  Broad daylight and she literally came out of nowhere.  Jamie missed her and thankfully no one else was coming, but it was very scary.
So we get to the Gem Mining place, which Jamie was really excited about.  He got even more excited when he swore he'd found gold, until the lady told him that it was fool's gold.  :)  We didn't find anything overly worth mentioning - mostly small stones, which I plan on displaying in a display case, but I did find one big amethyst.  I wasn't too sure about this, but it was actually really fun.  I'd definitely do it again.  Although, before we could do it, we had to go get cash from an ATM as the place did not accept credit cards.  On our way back, we got stuck behind a truck carrying a large shed going about ten miles an hour.  We had to follow him allll the way back to the place.  LOL.  And the street was so skinny that people coming the opposite way couldn't get past him, they had to back up and pull into driveways.  We laughed a lot about this and I took a picture.  :)
Jamie told me if I found a turtle now, I could keep him, but we did not find a turtle, which is just as well.  We don't have a turtle set up yet.
There were a few more things we could have done, but I could tell that Jamie was tired of being on the road, and I desperately missed Hazel, so I didn't put up much of a fight when he suggested we just go home.  We drove for hours and got home at 11:30.  We've been home now for four days and Hazel will not leave us.  If we go from one room to the next, she follows, and she gets sad when Jamie leaves for work.

There are some things we learned from this trip.  1.  Jamie learned that fire ants came into the U. S. accidentally from South America.  2.  I learned that it takes a decaying log 10 years to completely dissinigrate.  3.  We learned to always take the truck - even if it's going to use more gas, it can handle mud, ruts, standing water, etc.  Always take the truck!!  4.  Jamie learned that the Civil War was not about slavery, but about the fact that the South wanted to be left alone.  And 5.  Jamie learned that it took the Japanese two atomic bombs before they learned not to mess with the U. S.
This blog turned out to be way longer than I expected.  If anyone read it all, let me know!  I'd love to know that I'm not the only one who will read it all the way through.  :)