The last week of summer is among us, and we’ve just returned from our semi-annual trek to the Smoky Mountains.
Instead of making a pit-stop in Atlanta again, we decided to bust it straight through to Wears Valley, TN where we rented a cabin. We like Wears Valley because it avoids all of the touristy stuff indicative of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Also, it has incredibly convenient access to the National Park. We usually spend most of our time there. Just driving through, hearing the sounds and smelling the fresh mountain air is enough for a mental reboot.
The kids were immediately excited when we arrived and they saw the cabin. Aidan was especially excited because of the game room and theater in the basement, although the area didn’t get as much use as I thought.
Throughout the week, we had an opportunity to picnic, grill-out, hike and swim. We even ventured over to Forbidden Caverns for a cheesy, but very cool (both literally and aesthetically) tour underground.
Luke also discovered a roller coaster on the side of the mountain and decided it was a must-do activity. It turns out the Alpine Coaster had only been open three days… Needless to say, Aidan was persuaded by a monetary contribution and Skye did it a few days later for a t-shirt and grape soda. They all highly recommend it and did it four times overall.
We were especially surprised by Skye’s ability to withstand hiking. She made it 2.6 miles to see Laurel Falls, hiked some of the Appalachian Trail in the rain and even climbed to the highest peak at Clingman’s Dome. I barely made that one!
One of our favorite things to do in the park is the auto tour through Cades Cove. This eleven mile loop is our opportunity for wildlife spotting, usually allocating one point per mammal spotted to the first person to call it. No one ever keeps track of the points and Skye is always trying to subjectively revise the values, but it’s still a hoot. This time, we spotted several deer and a bear asleep in the tree. We actually saw a momma bear and three cubs on the hike to Laurel Falls too. I won’t even include the gigantic spider that almost ate me alive in the river.
The kids both enjoyed swimming, so much so that we did that twice. The water was too cold for Luke and me, but it didn’t stop Aidan and Skye.
We posted the photos here. Good times… Always.