Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee

As we do on a regular basis, we added a cave trip in at the last minute. It said it was the largest cave on the east coast, and, I think they may live up to their claim.

The cave tour is done with a little headset so you listen to a recording at each numbered stop. It is a really great cave.

The mirror lake is exceptional. It is definitely faery castle-like.

Notice the hand-rail at the side of the Sultan’s tent - it gives you an idea of the scale of this formation.

We stopped at the great little science museum in Roanoke, Virginia. It was nothing new - all the standard museum exhibit for kids from 5 to 13. It had a lovely little pond where the kids could touch and pick up horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and non-poisonous anemones. I had a nap in the front lobby so I don’t have any photos. They have lots of photos on their website.

I found a coffee shop and we drove on another 4.5 hours to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge is like Tennessee’s playground. I had no idea. There was a huge indoor waterpark with a waterslide that came outside with spinning lights on it. The kids want to come back here.

We came to Pigeon Forge to visit the Titanic. Half of a scale model is built here. There is anther one in Branson Missouri (owned by the same people of course). We saw their beautifully reconstruction of the grand staircase and learned that the one in the movie was actually made larger than life because the actors were larger than the average person back then, and because we are used to huge grandiose cruise ships now. It was cool seeing it, but I surely wouldn’t drive out of my way. Really, it looked like a model. In fact in some of my photos, it even looks like I’ve taken a photo of an HO scale model, with a little HO scale building. The kids were non-plussed with the whole thing, but admitted it was interesting to see in a tourist sort of way.

Then we hit the go-kart track! Aodhan was thrilled. Ciaran said the karts were a little too slow for him.

We stayed in another La Quinta hotel tonight, in Knoxville. We are discovering that there are two kinds of La Quintas. There are really nice ones, and there are motel-like ones. This was a motel-like one. On the bright side, the motel-like ones are a lot cheaper, so I can’t exactly feel ripped off. I did however, see something crawling and it really freaked me out. I don’t think it was a bed-bug, just a little spider or something, but when we get home our luggage is going nowhere near our house until it sits in the backyard for a week, and our clothes are going to be washed and hung outside to dry and I am going to douse everything with diatomaceous earth and spray and scrub until my flesh is red and raw and... ok I’ve calmed down a bit.