Smoky Mountains, 2018

Confession: it took me several months to get my photos from my family’s 2018 annual visit to the Smoky Mountains developed due to a large backlog of undeveloped film. But even when I got the photos developed, I hesitated to post them for another couple of months. Honestly, I felt as if I didn’t photograph a wide enough variety of things while we were on our little getaway. To me, it didn’t look like we’d DONE much while we were in the Smokies.  It seemed most of  my film had been spent at Dollywood (a very worthy subject though!!) And then some photos of my family playing mini golf?? Who wants to see THAT?!

But then, I realized  a few things:

1) My Instax Square* photos helped round things out.

2) Even though it looks like I basically went to Dollywood and mini golfing, I know there was more to our trip than that! There were just some activities we did that weren’t suited to being captured on film with the particular cameras I had with me (though I have a couple of hundred digital photos from the aquarium which I took for my brother-in-law!) For instance, the restaurant where we had dinner that had animatronic chickens around the perimeter of the dining area which “performed” throughout the dinner – kind of hard to convey that in still images. (I might share a video with you of it…)

3)  Regarding photos that are just “family snapshots”  – just this week, I watched a program on PBS called “Family Pictures USA,” and it does what the title implies: through family photos, it explores both the cities where these families live and how those people shaped the communities they were in. So maybe a photo of my niece narrowing her eyes at me because she doesn’t care to have her photo made doesn’t necessarily have a lot of interest or merit to those viewing it, it matters to me and my family in the long run.

Having gotten all that out of the way, I can now proceed to share the photos! We drove up to the mountains on Halloween, so our little vacation took place during the first few days of November 2018.

A few shots from one of my favorite areas at Dollywood: The 1950s themed Jukebox Junction 

Double exposure from the County Fair section 

It’s Dolly’s banjo from her childhood, y’all! We had never gone into the little Dolly Parton museum in Dollywood before, but it was pretty cool!

On the steps to the chapel in Dollywood 

There was a pumpkin carving artist at the park for their harvest festival *heart eyes*

Stained glass in the Southen Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame in the park…it was interesting 

I burned through most of my film at Dollywood because, that evening, we experienced one of the most lovely things ever. We knew there was something called “Dollywood Great Pumpkin Luminights” going on at the time, but we didn’t really know what to expect. It was so cute though! There was what I would call “cute spooky” music playing throughout the lighted display. We loved it so much!

This is was taken the day we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium. It would have been better photographed at night, but this was a decorative tree outside the aquarium that lit up at night 

View from the hotel in the morning. Not half bad, is it?

We went back to The Island in Pigeon Forge to have lunch at Pommes Frites. That’s a fancy way of saying we had fries for lunch! Always have to photograph the Giant Wheel when at The Island though.

One of our visits the the Apple Barn. Apple cider 4 lyfe.

Old MacDonald’s mini golf in Pigeon Forge 

Sharing theses particular photos for one main reason: It’s obviously a photo of my mom trying to hit the golf ball in a round of mini golf. But what I didn’t know at the time, and what I came to realize when I saw the photos when they’d been developed months later: this weekend was one of the last times for quite some time that my mom would have normal mobility. This may be a little more personal than you’d normally find on a blog like mine, but few weeks after this was taken, my mother had a slip and fall accident at work, cracking her scapula in the process. The following week, she fell and broke her hip. She’s doing much better now, but seeing these so far down the line, knowing the events that followed shortly thereafter, it really hit home that things can change in the blink of an eye, so as someone who documents her family’s life via photography, it is important to photograph little everyday things too.

Mom’s form had improved a little by this point but not by much! 

Beautiful evening to have dinner at the Old Mill Pottery House and Cafe –  I may have petitioned to eat there that night even though we dined there a couple of days earlier…

Ice cream shop in the same at the Old Mill 


Part of a Hogwart’s model made from toothpicks, at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum

Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium 

The entry of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, taken from the balcony above it

*sigh* what more fitting way to portray the end of a vacation that took place the week of Halloween than to photograph this discarded pumpkin I saw on our journey home that Sunday?


All photos taken with a Lomo LC-A, Canon Sure Shot Z90W, and Fuji Instax SQ6. 


*I literally got the Instax Square camera the evening before we left for Gatlinburg, so I was having to learn to use it as I went along. I’ll post a proper review of the camera with more photos soon!


The promised video from Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe

“Let it Go,” Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe from Amanda Raney on Vimeo.


One Thought on “Smoky Mountains, 2018

  1. Veronica Raney on August 17, 2019 at 3:43 pm said:

    Amanda, (aka, photog Amanda) I 💘all of these . I am sitting on the Turner family’s porch.The porch that Debs designed , and had built. One of her talents!
    Looking past the fall decor, and year round CHRISTmas shops, there are mountains and streams . Hills and valleys. A truly God thing.
    Grateful. I am.
    Inspired. I am.
    Thankful . I am.
    Amanda, your photography….brings joy.
    Lovely. They are.

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