The “T & V” States: Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia


My first job was singing on the Cas Walker Radio Show in Knoxville, Tennessee.”

— Dolly Parton

Dollywood, a world-renowned theme park and hotel established by singer-songwriter Dolly Parton, is the epitome of Summer fun combined with a taste of Southern culture! From the delicious Southern dumplings to the sweet Pink Lemonade, it did not take long to adjust to life in the Smoky Mountains. One memorable element of Dollywood was the theme: Dolly Parton! Her song, “Love Is Like A Butterfly,” perfectly resonates with the scenery as the butterflies flutter and the grass blows gently in the breeze. Although we did not have time to journey to the theme park, we embarked on a Pink Jeep Tour through the Smoky Mountains! The tour gave me access to the mountains’ breath-taking views as they faded down into a misty abyss.

No matter where I go, I always leave my Heart in Texas.”

— Unknown

When we arrived in Dallas, I instantaneously noticed the historical significance that trickled into the downtown area. The environment shifted from business casual to historic charm within a matter of blocks. I vividly remember rushing into Wild Bill’s Western Store, which sold hundreds of cowboy and cowgirl boots, hats, belts, bracelets, and more! I was in awe at the selection and the friendly camaraderie, which made me feel at home. The next day, we walked to President John F. Kennedy Memorial/Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a more solemn experience. While we paid our respects, I gained a significant deal of insight regarding JFK’s assassination. Although I was deeply disturbed by the sequence of events, it was reassuring to see so many tourists come together to learn about one of America’s most famous Presidents. 

Someone told me when they go to Vermont, they feel like they’re home. I’m that way at Saks [Fifth Avenue].”

— Caroline Rhea

When we crossed over the border into Vermont, I felt like I was placed in a winter wonderland scene on a calendar. The ground was iced with snow that stretched for miles. The streaks in the light blue sky faded into the marshmallow puff clouds. The sunlight made my face tingle before the crisp air subdued the glimmer and warmth generated by the rays. The cozy Vermont Country Store complimented this picturesque scene. I was amazed at the selection of classic childhood mementos, such as the Charlie Brown record player and the array of rubber ducks, that sparked nostalgia. In this case, the monthly magazine did not offer the same thrill I received when I saw the store in person!

Welcome to Virginia: Virginia is for lovers.”

— A Road Sign

Strolling along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk was rejuvenating, especially after our long days on the road heading up from Florida. While the ocean roared and crashed upon the sand, you could hear the seagulls squawking over the crowd. The shops lined the perimeter of the wooden path that paved the way from our hotel room to the restaurant. The sea breeze was gentle. The salty air was potent. It felt like the New Jersey Shore!

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