It was to be Oakley’s first-ever trip out of the country, and his first trip anywhere aside from our cottage.
For this trip, we partnered with Visit My Smokies who would help organize and show us some of the best things to do.
Oakley was expectantly quite nervous. He lives with the parents of MY parents, and therefore does not live with me, so I could not be there to help him pack. I messaged him details on items he should bring and not bring though, and that I would join him at his house the night before we were to fly out together from Toronto.
Although, I kind of figured there’d be some sort of waggishness afoot whenever Oakley is involved…
However, when I finally arrived to his house by car, his preparations were not exactly as hoped.
“Oakley, is this suitcase from 1984? How on Earth do you plan to lug this thing around?”
“Oh you think so?” He exclaimed. “It was grandpa’s, who told me it was actually quite modern. Has TWO locks on it and everything.”
I rolled me eyes, knowing non TSA-approved locks aren’t even permitted nowadays. “What do you got in here anyway? Looks like it won’t even close properly with all this stuff.”
“Yes, I figured you could use your packing skills to help me fit it all. But I assure you, everything in there is absolutely essential, and I only want a suitcase with good locks so no one steals my stuff on the way.”
So I began to rifle through the contents. “Your iFetch machine?” I asked. “Why don’t you just bring a ball and have the humans throw it for you?”
Oakley seemed perplexed. “Hm, I guess that could work, too.”
“And only a single pair of undies?! You’re going to wear the same underwear for 7 days?”
“Ah, that’s where you’re wrong!” he shot back. “I switch them inside-out everyday, so it’s pretty much like I have a new pair everyday! Pretty smart, huh?”
“Uh huh…” I replied dully. “And a whole box of Fudgee-Os, and donuts?!”
“Yes, what if they don’t have those where we’re going?!” Oakley demanded smartly.
“Oakley…” I began, shaking my head. “We’re going to the United States. Trust me, there are plenty of donuts and cookies there. Too many, in fact.”
“Oh good!” Oakley replied, gleefully. “Then I don’t have a problem switching to a suitcase without a lock then.”
The next morning we arrived at the airport bright and early. The humans carried us around in our carry-bags, zipping and weaving through the crowds of legs all around us. Oakley called over to me from his bag, obviously quite enjoying the ride. “Hey Crusoe, check this out! I feel like I’m riding one of those speed bikes through the forest of Endor!”
He always had to have his paws up and out of the bag…
Even before takeoff, he had paws out and tongue out, huffing his breath all over the place.
“Oakley!” I exclaimed. “Can you keep that tongue rolled up? You’re stinkin’ up our aisle”. Being a little huskier, Oakley seems to be panting all the time.
Then it was time for takeoff, and luckily Oakley followed my lead of being cool and composed. In fact, he did super well the whole flight, and when we finally touched down on solid ground once again, he was ecstatic!
We were both happy to be on the ground again, but even more so to finally arrive at our dog-friendly Smoky Mountain cabin that evening!
And what a cabin it was! Two balconies, a hot tub, arcade machine, pool table, big screen TV (what for??) and that characteristic view of the Smokies that we just couldn’t stop looking at!
Yep, this would do well. Find a dog-friendly cabin at Visit My Smokies.
It even had a bachelor-style loft with big bay windows for the view and a giant king-size bed for me, and a futon for Mum and Dad.
“What are we doing today?” asked Oakley.
“Oh, probably some mini golf, maybe a walk in the Smoky Mountain Park, we’ll explore town a bit since we haven’t seen it yet, and maybe just a little river rafting…”, I replied casually.
“River rafting?!” Oakley cried. “That sounds much too exciting for me. I couldn’t do anything like that…”
“Oakley, don’t you remember? You fly on PLANES now. That is truly an impressive feat that only the bravest dare embark upon.”
“That is true…” Oakley pondered, looking down quizzically at his paws like he normally does when thinking hard. “Perhaps I am brave enough…”
So, we visited Smoky Mountain Outdoors who were so amazing and receptive to giving us special permission to come aboard, under the one condition that we brought our own helmets – which we did!
Here we are, with both our “mums”, ready to cast off on a fast and furious ride down the river! Oakley still seemed a little apprehensive, and as the older brother, I set a cool and confident example.
Even though I told Oakley we were about to head down Class 6 rapids (he didn’t know what it meant anyway), it was in fact the calmest section of the river where they take 3 year-olds.
We both had a blast cruising down the river. I was busy looking for fish, while Oakley was just gleefully taking it all in.
That is, until we spotted the first signs of whitewater up ahead. The water turned from a glimmering smooth green to a gurgling boil as it cast itself over rocks in a steeper part of the river.
“Okay hold on!”, yelled our guide in the back. “This is the only part of this section where you might get a little wet, so watch out!”
“Wet!?” Nobody told me I would wet!! I quickly retreated to Mum’s arms, whilst Oakley – either truly not being bothered by receiving a bucket of water in the face, or perhaps more likely, just oblivious to the danger in front of him, sat happily through the whole thing!
Perhaps Oakley is truly brave after all!
But then it was over, and back to smooth sailing and curious observation – albeit a little wet.
A big thanks to our guides for the exciting adventure!
“That was awesome!” Oakley exclaimed afterwards. “Can we do a Class 7 river next time?!”
“Uh, sure”, I muttered. “Next time“.
While in the area, we decided to go on a little walk in the Smoky Mountain Park as a little reprieve.
It’s a beautiful, jungle-like forest, not like the ones I’m used to back home. The trees here are huge and exotic looking to me, and thus ripe for peeing on.
We couldn’t help but pose for a quick photo by the river, now that we could “compose” ourselves a little better than when we were on the river.
What a way to make a splash on your first day in the Smokies!
On the following day, we visited the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, where we re-created the “Draw me like one of your French girls” scene, with our own twist of course! You can watch the video here if you haven’t already.
I have to say though, out of the whole trip the Titanic Museum was one of the places I was most impressed by. I admittedly had the misconception that it might be gimmicky, but it was incredibly well-done and moving. Highly recommend.
We also somehow “bumped” into Paula Deen, who is quite popular here. She really took a fancy to Oakley! She must love those chubby cheeks! 😉
And speaking of famous people, my colleagues suggested I dress up like the iconic Dolly Parton next to her statue.
But when someone puts me to a challenge, I blow it out of the water. I came with Dolly’s coat of many colors and all!
I must have attracted some attention though because before I knew it the mayor of the county was beside me, telling me how much his wife is a fan and that she’d be incredibly disappointed in him if he didn’t come home with a photo with me.
Seems you always meet some interesting people when you’re a celebrity.
And every afternoon we made sure to spend some “relaxation” time on our cabin balcony, just soaking in the sunshine, humidity (geez, so humid!) and lovely views…
By the way, that was what we were most surprised about here. For some reason we just figured it would be cooler – being in the mountains and all, but no, it was so much hotter and more humid than we expected.
In fact, I never realized how big Oakley’s tongue actually was until this trip.
I have to say, for someone who doesn’t really travel, Oakley did much better than I expected. I figured he would have had a harder time adapting to the “busyness” and commotion of the celebrity lifestyle of moving from place to place, filming, riding on planes, etc. But he has done so well and seems to love it!
Although, I think as long as he’s with his big brother he’ll have fun doing just about anything! Maybe he’ll be up for skydiving next? (I’ll make him jump first then back out).
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.