Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gatlinburg Trip 2016

We had a blast in the mountains! Zac and I hope to move there before the kids are in high school, so wish that luck (lol).

Zac requested a half-day on Friday, so while he was working I took a trip to the grocery to purchase travel foods. I spent the next few hours baking cookies and making sandwiches and bagging grapes until Zac got off work. He picked Elias and me up and we picked up our rental van, then headed back to the house to load up. A good hour later, we were in the car, heading for Tennessee.

As expected, Elias slept a few hours in, but we ended up making quite a number of stops to soothe his fussiness, end a few quarrels between the big kids, and let the parents stretch their legs. I drove the first four hours, then Zac took over for the other four (or six?) until we FINALLY reached the Park Vista at 2am. Needless to say, we were all ready for our Walking Dead roles as zombies.

It was dark when we made it to the Tennessee border, so we weren't able to look at the scenery. However, when we woke up early Saturday morning, the view from our window was absolutely breathtaking. We opted for a mountain view and I've never been so visually satisfied.

A trolley came along and picked us up and we rode to the city for a pancake breakfast at Pancake Pantry. I'm a sucker for crepes and raspberries, so I was happy to find raspberry crepes on the menu. Everything was so lovely and rustic and delicious!

Across the street were some of the museums, so we picked the Guinness World Records. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disappointment. After visiting Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium, we could have skipped the World Records altogether as the Odditorium had many of the same displays, except much more. Most of the games at World Records were out of order or just not working correctly due to overuse.

When we bought tickets for the Guinness World Records museum, there was a deal to pick two more exhibits and pay a lower price than to buy all three separately, so the kids opted for the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and the Odditorium. The aquarium was super fun. One of my favorite parts was standing on a conveyor belt and riding through a tunnel where sharks could be seen swimming above me and all around. Leah and James pet (and picked up!) a few horseshoe crabs and I touched a jellyfish! Elias napped for most of the visit, but enjoyed the seahorses and cuttlefish. We picked out some candy from Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen then ate dinner at Calhoun's before heading back to the hotel so the kids could swim with Zac while Mom and I enjoyed the hot tub. Dad stayed in his hotel room to watch TV (as if he doesn't do enough of that at home).

Sunday was spent window-shopping. Elias let me wear him in my wrap, which was convenient since the stroller was bulky on the trolley. We ate brunch at Smoky Mountain Brewery. Zac ordered a beer sampler (of course) and we devoured some of the best burgers. The Odditorium was on our list of things to explore, so we headed there first. I think the kids enjoyed it the most. There were so many fascinating things to see, but none compared to the view at the top of the sky lift. For dinner, we went to The Dixie Stampede. It was so neat! We had to pick whether we were on the side of the North or the South, so obviously we picked the south side. We sat at a long, one-row table at the very top of the arena and faced the inner circle. There was entertainment, such as people riding horses, a pig race, and a chicken roundup. The kiddos loved it the most. 

We came back to the hotel for our last night and Zac bought me an amaretto sour at the bar while the kids changed into their swimsuits. We took them down to the pool one more time and let them stay up a little later than normal. There were two separate water slides, one for the smaller kids and one for the adults, and James had a blast on the smaller. It took some convincing to get Leah to go down it, but she managed. Zac talked James into trying the bigger slide and after a few times riding together, James opted to go alone. That dude is crazy, sliding down on his belly like a penguin and backwards. Leah tested her bravery by checking to see if she could touch the ground before attempting to go by herself, but she did it! They enjoyed themselves while Zac pulled Elias around and I took photos.

We were so sad to leave Monday morning that none of us were even hungry on the drive home (except Elias). We stopped at Ihop for breakfast and a few gas stations along the way to stretch out and soothe the fussy baby, but finally made it home Monday night before midnight. Zac is considering us going back in November, but only if we stay in a cabin. I'm down. The kids want to fish and roast marshmallows and I'm dying to see the leaves in their autumn clothes.

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