Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

Reunion Vacation

Our family went on vacation to Gatlinburg. Because Katie is a horse nut, we stopped at the Kentucky Horse Park on the way down. Of course we got a stuffed horse for her at the gift shop. The next day we stopped at the Museum of Appalachia. It was nice but it bored two 6-year-olds. My father-in-law would have loved it.

We rented a house for a half week at the northern edge of the Smoky Mountains with the four other families that adopted with us from Maoming China 6 years ago. We came from Connecticut, upstate New York, Louisiana, and Ohio. There were 10 kids (half were 6-year-old Chinese girls) and 10 parents. We were in a five bedroom house. Two laundry rooms and a slowly leaking hot tub. The two babies slept in their parents’ room. The 6 older girls slept together in the great room on a patchwork of ajoining air mattresses. (An instant slumber party.) The two brothers slept in the loft. We reminised each night and went sightseeing each day.

The first day, we went to an overpriced aquarium. Claire waved bye-bye to every fish as we passed and we temporarily lost a our camera case. To even up the plushy ratio, Marissa picked out an Eagle Ray. She ignored my suggestion to name it “Eagle Ray Charles.” She named it “Stinger” even though it isn’t a Sting Ray.

The second day, we convoyed to Dollywood. Oh just shoot me now. The drive to the parking lot was indeterminably long and the wait for the tram to the entrance seemed even longer. Those in farther lots were being served first! When it did arrive at our stop, the tram wrangler(?) in the very back referred to the guests disparagingly in the third person while conversing over the speaker system with the tram driver in the front. Classy. He also bragged how no one ever has to wait more than 15 minutes. A lie by my watch. You don’t appreciate how nicely Disneyworld does it until you see how poorly other amusement parks do it by comparison. And we hadn’t even entered the park.

After our family spent $142 just to get in the door, some of our group were remarking how close they came to turning around at the entrance. Along the lines of “I would have turned around had I know you wanted to bail too.” Too late.

We started with a Veggie Tales show. (Some of the attractions were for meant for Christians only.) There weren’t many rides, but along the streets were simple crafts we could do for additional fees. The girls did maybe 5 “carny-quality” rides all day. I did one. Chris, none. We bailed after four hours. The exit was through gift shop. Wouldn’t you know. Two more stuffed animals were purchased: a horse (surprise!) and leopard (surprise again!) and we were back on the tram. Chris wanted to get the animals to make up for the good time they didn’t have. Arghhhh! We’ve had a better time at grandma’s county fair for a tenth as much.

To wash the crass commercialism from my palate, our family went into the Smoky Mountains National Park. The last major National Park that is still free. We went to the peak and saw a bear cub eating along the road. We took pictures. I felt better.

Our group dispersed in the morning vowing to do it again in two or three years.

On the way home we stayed at the lodge at Cumberland Falls State Park. We went swimming in the afternoon and saw their waterfall in the evening. I have empirical evidence that you can still buy a can of coke from a vending machine for only 50 cents. Life, again, was good.

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