Since being detoured off of Highway 40 and into the park, I was going without the assistance of my GPS and so I had no idea what was coming next or how much further I had to go. I was very relieved to finally return to civilization when I left the park and entered Pigeon Forge, and what a weird welcome that was. I had spotted Gatlinburg during the descent and assumed Pigeon Forge would be just another little mountain town. Instead everything is lighted and flashing and it has a very Branson type of vibe going on with some crazy attractions and architecture. It all made sense though once I realized that it is also home to Dollywood, so that explains the gaudiness and spectacle.
As tempting as it was to stop and take in the sights, I pressed on last night to Knoxville, Tennessee. Taking into consideration the time I lost while driving toward Charlotte instead of Asheville, I thought I would be arriving in Knoxville around eight or eight thirty. As it turned out, I did not pull into the parking garage until 11:30. I was exhausted and my ankle is still sore from having to ride my brake pedal so much thanks to the mountains. I didn't leave this morning as early as I had hoped, but still managed to get on the road just after 10. Knoxville seemed pleasant enough, though almost immediately after leaving the hotel I hit yet another detour and got a little tour of the University of Tennessee campus. Other than getting turned around and lost a bit one more time, thankfully today's drive was a lot easier as it consisted of long, straight roads and seemingly endless farmland. I arrived at the hotel just before nine, got checked into my room, and have now started to gradually bring in all the stuff that I packed. Damn, I need to go to sleep. It's been a long ride and I am tired, but I am so excited to be here. Woo-Hoo!