Visiting Dolly’s Kingdom, Summer 2021

Outside the Mystery Mine at Dollywood; pretty sure this is my favorite ride!
Scott’s emotions after trying cinnamon bread for the first time.

A “must do” at Dollywood is visiting the Grist Mill for cinnamon bread. If Disney World has Dole Whips and Universal has Butterbeer, the iconic must eat item at Dollywood is the hot, fresh, gooey cinnamon bread.

C.A. and M. also visited the old time photo booth. There was no wait and a plethora of costumes and backdrops to choose from. They made their own theme by mixing ‘southern belle’ dresses with a hot air balloon + a racoon and some weapons.

Scott loved the park so much he got himself a season pass at the end of the day! Their pricing is actually pretty fantastic for a season pass – and since this trip was in August, we didn’t get to see any holiday decorations this time around, so he’s already planning to return for the “Illuminights” (Halloween) and Christmas events.

Our pro tips:

  • We stayed at Riverstone Resort which is only 3mins from the Dollywood entrance. There are lots of hotels in pigeon forge.
  • The blacksmith shop inside Dollywood is a working blacksmith studio and IF YOU HAVE CLOSED TOED SHOES you can make a small knife out of a screw, railroad spike, or horseshoe and take it home with you. But you gotta have the right shoes! Scott missed out this time because he had soaked his tennis shoes on the River Rampage ride and changed into flipflops – but it’s on his to-do list for next time! Prices for this start at approx $30 and the easiest knife project only takes about 20mins of your day. We recommend getting over to the blacksmith shop first thing if this is something you’d like to do, since the appointment slots book up.
  • Don’t miss the cinnamon bread! You have to find the Grist Mill to get it. We like the apple butter with it.
  • The bald eagles / bird show is also a “can’t miss” moment in the park, check the map for the schedule of bird shows. See their livestream here:
  • I think my favorite ride is the Mystery Mine – although there’s still a couple of coasters I haven’t tried so who knows! Coaster lovers with love this short ride with special effects, super fun loops, and two “straight up” pieces of track (my coaster nerd verbiage needs improvement, I know).

Fun fact: Dolly hasn’t ridden any of her own rides (except the train). “I don’t ride the rides. I never have,” she told The New York Times. “I have a tendency to get motion sickness. Also, I’m a little bit chicken. With all my hair I got so much to lose, like my wig or my shoes. I don’t like to get messed up. I’m gonna have some handsome man mess it up, I don’t want some ride doing it.”

Additional fun fact: Dollywood was on Forbes best employers list for 2021. They offer benefits like tuition reimbursement, scholarships for the children of employees, and a primary care health clinic.

You have an opportunity around the park to “round up” your purchases to benefit Dolly’s Imagination Library. If you have kids, check out this resource!

Check out our vlog here^.

If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”

– Dolly Parton

Minolta XG-1

“For my next camera, I’d like a Minolta,” I mentioned to my friend Zach as we both perused the camera section of the antique shop with its dusty Brownies and rusting Land camera. Scott and I had already restored several Land cameras and enjoy them very much. Scott’s favorite by far is his Polaroid SX-70, a truly beautiful instrument.

But I was craving an old glass lens, with sharp focus and blurred backgrounds, and contrasty black and white film. I’ve had my Holga since 2012, but it doesn’t give much by way of focus (that is to say, the focus is only a rough guess), and the viewfinder is only a rough estimate of what the lens will see.

Less than an hour later, Scott stumbled on this Minolta XG-1 for $15.

The near mint interior held a completed 12-exposure roll of Kodak film, color. His battery was dead, but not corroded. He was labeled to be sold as a “prop camera” by a seller who apparently thought he’d only be wanted for his looks. Unable to test the shutter without a battery, there was no telling if he’d shoot— but the real view seen through the viewfinder was lovely. Scott argued it was worth $15 to take the gamble, who cares if it’s a dud?

Once at home, Scott popped in two button batteries and the XG-1 clicked on like he’d just been used yesterday. With the exception of a loose power knob (that slides out of place a little too easily), he seemed to be working perfectly, the shutter snapping importantly with each test.

This camera is from circa 1982, a consumer level camera from Minolta. The lens is a fixed distance (no option to zoom in or out) 50mm lens. For my first roll of test film I used Ilford HP5 Plus, 400 ISO.

For an idea of what this camera could possibly be capable of, here’s a lomography page dedicated to images captured using a Minolta XG-1:

And for an idea of how it works, you can find the original manual here:

And here’s a few shots from my first roll of film (Iford HP5 Plus)…

Here’s to many more images to come! Let’s burn some film. 🎞

Israel on Ilford

When Scott and I went to Israel in 2019, we carried with us an Ilford disposable camera (specifically: this one, the Ilford XP2 single use ‘Harmon’). We finally got around to dropping off the film last weekend. All of these are 100% unedited, this is exactly how they came out of the developer.

We used Wolf Photo in Atlanta for our developing.

Fun fact: this film went through the airport xray machine at least once and still turned out fine.

Chestatee River 2021

Kendall and I wore the same sunglasses
The whole Krewe + a dog named Penny
Video highlights, 2021

Notes on our North Georgia kayaking adventures:

  • For kayak rentals, we use: Appalachian Outfitters. This was their Lower Chestatee River trip. Dahlonega is close enough that we do it as a day-trip — drive up, paddle, eat lunch, and drive back. We usually strive to be on the water by 10am (arrive at A.O. by 9:30a).
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen, water shoes and a change of dry clothes.
  • After getting off the river, we enjoyed lunch at: Yahoola Creek Grill (get the fried green tomatoes! And a grouper sandwich!)
  • Kilwin’s in downtown Dahlonega solved our after-lunch dessert cravings (and fixed us up with iced coffee for the ride home).
  • And he was closed when we got there, but if you’re downtown early enough, stop by Brad Walker‘s pottery shop. It’s one of my favorites.

If you enjoyed these photos, you can check out previous years’ highlights here and here, or here.

From My Heart ❤️

Today I worked 12.5 hours.

The first 5.5 in a covid vaccine clinic. The second 7 hours in an urgent care.

In the first half, I celebrated with patients who will never (or never again) catch Covid. In the second, I picked up my stethoscope to listen to the lungs of a 40yo F with Covid-pneumonia.

I want you to know, dear reader, that when I urge you to get vaccinated, I am not a shill for big pharma. Bill Gates has never cut me a check. I’m not a sheep. And I’m not saying these things because it’s my job.

I’ve been up close and personal with this virus for over a year now. And now, I’ve seen these vaccines up close, too. Not only did I receive both doses of mine, but I’ve given them, I’ve monitored patients who’ve just received them, and I’ve offered education about them — over and over again. I’ve watching in awe as 1,000+ patients are vaccinated in a single day.

From my heart, I believe these vaccines are safe. From my heart, I am afraid of what covid can do to your body and of the many things we still don’t know or understand about this virus.

From my heart, I believe getting vaccinated is the best choice. For you, and for our world.

Vaxxed, 12/23/2020

One of the very best days of 2020 was the day I received the first dose of my Moderna anti-covid vaccination.

Are you ready to move ‘up and out’ with me? Let’s bring about the end of “Covid Times” together. Video evidence below so you can see the exact moment when I received my vaccine. So happy!

Insta Story of Covid Vaccine Dose, leading the way as a healthcare worker in ‘Phase 1A’.