Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We Went to Gatlinburg! And Took Pictures! Saturday/Sunday Review

Saturday was a great day! After eating pizza in the night before, we headed out for an early morning walk and could swear we saw blue sky! We took off for the Donut Friar, which had rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Wow - were they right. They were fantastic donuts! Plus, it was a very casual place for us to eat and fast.

We did a little shopping around the town and hit up a nice, local shop for the girls - Claire's Boutique. :) They were thrilled. New headbands and Nerds lipgloss. We meandered our way back to the hotel to plan the rest of the day and let the kids play a little. (I forgot to mention that on Friday, we found a store that had all kinds of stuff for a dollar. It wasn't a dollar store, but seemed more like someone had ripped off a Hallmark truck and was unloading stuffed animals. Either way, the kids loved their toys!)

After a quick lunch at a biker bar (we were desperate not to go back onto the main drag because of the crowds - once again food OK but not fantastic), we headed into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The drive in was beautiful!

I wanted to make sure the girls got to the visitor's center by 2:00 for a Junior Ranger program. We got there a little early and went through the museum. They had a great collection of native animals and a nice exhibit on bats, which coincidentally, Josie had just studied in school. Very educational! :) We also told the girls that at the end of the day, we would count up all the good pictures we took and give them that many Jelly Beans. So, they insisted on posing by each of the stuffed animals.

 This one is probably my favorite of the whole trip! Josie's face cracks me up!!!

After checking out the museum, we went outside for the Junior Ranger program. It was on furs and the different types of animals that lived within the park. I think both girls really enjoyed it and learned new things. Josie, though, was particularly interested and I don't think the Ranger knew quite what to do with her. She was very interactive saying things like, "Hmmm, I didn't know that." And, asking pretty detailed questions. It was really fun watching her interact and learn new things on her own.

Finally, it was time to head in for our hike. It was about a one mile hike and took us about an hour and a half. :) Everyone was having a grand time and we got some great pictures! I think this is the first hike we've done as a family and we'll definitely be looking for opportunities to do more.

Heading onto the trail! (Jack wanted nothing to do with the backpack and really did a great job of keeping up.)

Cracks me up that Jack just looks like one of the gang!

Pretty Tessa! Notice the new headband!

Jack loved the little signs talking about the different types of trees. They were right at his level!

The girls practiced their balance beam skills and Jack wanted to play along.

Cute sisters!

Such a cute baby!

More sisterly love. :)

They had fun on this log that was bouncy and just high enough off the ground to be scary.

The end of the trail took us to Cataract Falls. Josie took the map from the Ranger at the beginning and led the way. (She's her mother's daughter, that's for sure!) But, she was adamant we were heading to Collect Falls.

Mama and Jack when he started seeming a little worn out.

We handed the good camera over to the girls. Josie took this one and I think it's really good! It's going on the Christmas card!

And, Tessa took this one. Not bad Tess!

This could be a school pic!

Yes, this was as dangerous as it looked. Everyone did a good job though and the girls were holding on tight! Jack didn't start to squirm until the very end.


Camoflaged Jack!

After our hike, we took a little drive up to the Elkmont Campgrounds. It took us a little higher into the mountains which was great! We also saw some turkeys!

The drive back down was beautiful!

Once we were ready to leave the park, it was back to reality - traffic! Oh, it was really bad. It took us a long time to get back to the hotel and I was glad that Tessa and Jack took a little snooze. At one point, I jumped out of the car, ran 25 yards or so and into Wendy's for dinner for the kids and came back out to Tom sitting right in front of the restaurant.

Hit the pool again for the evening and then Tom and I ordered in. This time the food was really bad. It didn't help that there was a wreck downtown and it took an hour and half to arrive. It wasn't bad enough to ruin the great day though! What fun!

Sunday was time to pack up and the girls and Tom hit the game room and finally each won a toy out of the crane machine. The rest of the day was filled with travel and, you guessed it, traffic!

I will say again how much I loved the hotel. It was the perfect place for a family like ours. It had some nice features, like the pool, a cool lobby with a checkers table and a game room. And, the amount of time we were gone was just perfect. I was a little afraid it would be too short, but it was just right. Now, if those city planners could just do something about all the people and cars... :)

It really was a great trip and some great, quality family time!

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