Smoky Mountains Adventure

After ditching the idea of taking the kids to New York, we decided to return to our little spot of serenity in the Smoky Mountains. Ten days smelling fresh mountain air was just what we needed to close out the summer.  Some highlights of our adventures include:

  • Stone Mountain, GA – Per Aidan’s request, we usually stay at the Marriott Evergreen in the park… but , we were less than delighted by our stay this time around.  Construction on the building woke us up the first morning… on the one day that Skye didn’t get up at the crack of dawn! The second time around, they put us in a room that had wet paint on the balcony, which also resulted in a terrible stench that I didn’t want the kids huffing. They did switch our room and all, but I think we’re just ready for something new next time.  There are only so many times you can enjoy seeing a big pile of granite I suppose. Of course, we had to stick with tradition and stop by The Village Corner for the mouth watering German fare… they never fail to score big on satisfaction, especially after a seven hour drive with two kids in tow.  The “are we there yet” jokes have turned out to be an aggravating reality… nothing that an iPad and DS doesn’t solve anyway.
  • Atlanta, GA – We have never actually taken the time to explore Atlanta and figured it would be kind of cool to see the GA Aquarium, which I’ve since learned is the largest in the world.  It was a little costly and overly crowded, but it was definitely worth it.  The manta ray was much larger than I would have thought and the whales swimming around were just majestic.  World of Coke seemed cool, but I didn’t want to pay for entry into something that’s essentially them promoting their brand.  And, Olympic Park was scorching hot so the fountains were missed in lieu of an icy cold mini-van. Next time, I think I’d like to stay downtown somewhere and check out some of the other stuff.
  • Timber Tops Cabin Rental – This is the third cabin we’ve rented, all from different companies.  And, I’ll have to say that this one was the least impressive and just as costly.  Don’t get me wrong… it was clean, the rental staff and office were fine, etc… but, it just wasn’t the quality we’ve gotten from the others. Aidan was Mr. King in that place though… we essentially gave him the loft during the day where he would retreat for uninterrupted LEGO building and Disney Channel watching.  By night, Luke and I took over… coolers, Luke’s media hookup, shiny toys… yes, those few hours of quiet, kid-free time was rather enjoyable! 🙂 Oh, I’d be amiss to forget the driveway.  I about had a panic attack the first time up.  It was so frightening that I made a video. I don’t think my van will ever be the same after this trip!
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park- PBS and Ken Burns were right on… the national parks are in fact America’s best idea. Everything about that place makes me smile.  And, no matter how many times we’ve been there, there’s never a shortage of new things to do and see.  Of course, we always make time for picnics (Chimney Tops is the best spot because you’ve got the stream right there that you can wade around and it’s nestled in a perfectly shaded spot).  And, we always do the Cades Cove Auto Tour.  This time, we saw several bears, wild turkey and about a dozen deer.  Something we hadn’t done before was Clingman’s Dome.  The 7 mile road up was fun and watching Luke push a stroller up a mountain was priceless! The Sugarlands Nature Walk was much less physically demanding but also much less climactic.
  • The Apple Barn – After going through all of those little rectangular tourist info sheets, I really wanted to go to the Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store.  And, I must say that it was really cool… the food at the restaurant was amazing and the wine is so much better than you would think.  I’ll just say that the apple butter was really something special and I’m sure I’ll be ordering more online soon! Aidan and Skye enjoyed the Candy Factory… actually, a lot of candy was consumed during this trip.  I tried to resist getting fudge and failed.  I also tried to resist getting taffy and failed. Whatever.
  • Gatlinburg, TN – What can you say about Gatlinburg… it is what is is… a tourist trap to rival all tourist traps.  But, you find yourself walking the strip and enjoying yourself nonetheless. We always make time to run through it at least once.

As I’m sitting here at home on the last evening of vacation, I’m sad… Despite all of those hours in the car and the chaos that is our kids, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than hang out with my crew.  And, hanging out with them surrounded by such beauty and an absence of work related responsibilities just makes me jubilant.  Until next time…

Posted by jenn on 09:08 pm - Sunday August 15 2010

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