Remember guys, we’re parked under the Sunsphere.

It seems that our love of roadtrips has converted us from plane travel to road travel when going up north during the holidays. This year, we made a stop in Tennessee.

First was Knoxville, to visit the Sunsphere. We had no trouble whatsoever with parking or crowds. In fact, for an unseasonably mild Saturday afternoon, it was eerily deserted. Here’s Jon standing right in the middle of the main road by the Sunsphere. We had plenty of time to compose the shot.

Rapture

We figured that maybe the Rapture had occurred a few weeks ago. Atlanta isn’t especially religious, so the difference wasn’t obvious to us back home. Knoxville, on the other hand, must be very pious because the only people left below in Knoxville were these three creepy guys in the Sunsphere observatory who had agreed to meet up there to conduct some kind of transaction. It’s free to take the elevator up and there’s no attendant or anything. Unfortunately, The Simpsons lied to us and there’s no wig store at the top. Not one that we could access, anyway.

Also, it appeared to be growing out of Jon’s head.
Sunsphere 1

That was about it for sights to see in Knoxville, other than an empty Holiday Inn that housed The World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube.

World's Largest Rubik's Cube

Yeah, I know. The World’s Largest Things aren’t always all that big.

Our next stop was Pigeon Forge, which had the World’s Largest Collection of World’s Largest things. One such large thing was the World’s Largest Fake Mt. Rushmore:

Hollywood

Wax Museum Nose

I can’t take him anywhere.

There was the World’s Largest Upside-Down House. How’d they do that? The best part if that gravity has reversed polarity inside, so when you enter you immediately fly up and land on the ceiling/floor.
Wonderworks

And The World’s Largest Titanic Exhibit. I even got a flattened penny outside that boasts “Pigeon Forge: Home of The World’s Largest Titanic Exhibit.”

But it’s a dumb exhibition. It’s $25 apiece to get in and no photos are allowed inside. Big gaudy tourist attractions that don’t allow photography are unacceptable in my eyes. If we’re going to pay for some overpriced tourist trap, I’d better be able to document it. Otherwise, what’s the point? So we didn’t pay the admission or go inside, but we did get to pose with the 100-year old sunken Titanic gifts stacked outside, gifts that must have been recovered during the last recent Titanic artifact recovery expedition.
Titanic Presents

Oh yeah- did I mention that the museum was shaped like half-a-Titanic? Again, it must have been the front end that they pulled up during the last recovery expedition. We didn’t have to pay to take pictures of the outside of the museum.

Titanic

The real highlight of our mini-trip was our next stop in Gatlinburg, TN. The World’s Largest and World’s Only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

Shaker Sign

Yes, 20,000 salt and pepper shakers! It’s owned an operated by an elderly Belgian couple. The story goes that in the mid 80s, Mrs. Ludden was on an intense search for a durable pepper mill. She and her husband started to acquire several of them, but not one of them was just right. So the less-than-perfect pepper mills started getting lined up in the window sills as the search continued. Nosy neighbors started noticing these pepper mills all over the windows and thought they must have been collecting them. SO they started bringing Mr. and Mrs. Ludden pepper mills and salt and pepper shakers. And more of them. Then their children started bringing them salt and pepper shakers. The collection grew and grew until the family started collecting in earnest searching antique stores and flea markets far and wide. When the collection grew into the thousands, they started the museum. And for $3 each, we got to see it for ourselves.

Mrs. Ludden was not in the museum this day, but Mr. Ludden was. I wondered if we were going to get a guided tour, but that turned out not to be necessary. The 20,000 shakers were meticulously categorized and labeled.

We had our vegetable-shaped shakers, subclassified as corn, celery, Mr. Peanut, etc.
Corn Shakers

We had our quaint-in-the-middle-of-the-century-but-now-embarrassingly-racist shakers:
Black Shakers

Right next door we had the Amish shakers:
Amish Shakers

And of course within the “animal” phylum of shakers, we had Linnaean sub-orders, classes, families and genera. In the rodent class of shakers, we had the Scuiridae shaker family, aka, the squirrels.
Squirrel Shakers

Being in a long, dark corridor with thousands upon thousands of carefully-arranged salt and pepper shakers finally proved to be too much for Jon.

Shakers on him

He ended up needing a breather on the park bench outside. Unfortunately, some rambling idiot out there was boring us to death.
Forrest

And that just about did it for our trip-on-the-way-to-Christmas stuff up north. Oh, except for some Jesus bears trying sell us local jams and jellies.

Jesus Bears