October 11, 2015

Gatlinburg --- The Smokey Mountains

Brent had a conference in Gatlinburg for part of his PA program. He got there Sunday night, then the conference started Monday. He was missing us quite a bit and so on Monday night he drove up to the top of The Smokey Mountains and set up his tripod and got some AMAZING shots...

It did the trick! It was like therapy for his soul being out there taking amazing pictures.

The next day we left from our place to pick up my parents from the Nashville airport.  It all went smoothly and everyone was so excited to see each other!!!  We got to our campground and reunited with Brent which was wonderful! That night ate pulled pork, oreos, and we played Rumikub.  Then we went to bed. The kids seemed comfy enough but the adults were a wee bit cold due to the lack of blankets they provide in the safari tents.
Next morning the kids got right to work playing on the playground at the campground...

 Not pictured is Chico sitting on the swings for like 45 minutes talking to a little girl around his same age.  It was really cute.
After letting them play for awhile we drove out to go exploring.  We stopped at a "quiet walkway" while Dad went back to refill the van with gas. I left the camera in the car and only got some cell phone pictures of the beautiful walk... might add them later...

Then we got up to the top of the mountain and started on a steep walk up to clingman's dome.  Right away Griz found a butterfly and Mom helped him get it on his finger.  It must have been injured or something because it didn't ever try to fly away.

 Carting all those jackets and stuffed animals up the mountain was a bit of a pain but oh well. :)

The kids were sooo excited to climb around on the rocks again when we got back down.

The next day we decided to explore Pigeon Forge.  Not pictured was the awesome Alpine Coaster.  We each got to go twice (except Sanna).  It was a lot of fun to tear down the mountain, we all loved it! Bananas!!!
These dumb advertisments really enticed the kids to go see the live sharks and alligators.... in a t-shirt shop?! And by the way people... a caiman is not the same as an alligator. It's more closely related to a crocodile.  They are from South America and completely their own thing.  Oh and yeah, those "black Bears" that we fed at this other place... not thinking they're local 'rescues', more like bought from China. I do believe those bears are "sun" bears.  Not black bears. Can't trick me, I watch wild kratts and read books to my kids about animals. :)  so yeah, that was my main complaint about Pigeon Forge.

After doing the Alpine Coaster with the family my parents let us go off on our own while they took the kids to the "Jurrasic Boat Ride" which terrified the kids completely but made for a fun story to tell us about later on. :)  And then they took them back to the campground to swim in the heated pool again.  They loved it!!! Thanks Mom and Dad for taking care of the kids so we could go on a much needed "getaway".

So on our date we decided to go hiking! First we hiked Laurel Falls. Not that impressive and kind of a boring trail.  But let me tell you it was kinda fun and refreshing to be passing people while we were hiking.  It's so different hiking without kids!!!  Next we decided to try something a little more beautiful and adventurous.  We pulled off to the side of the road and hiked down some really steep terrain down into the rocky river.  It was GORGEOUS and we had a lot of fun going from rock to rock trying to get a good shot, suggesting different shots to each other.  We loved it.

THe light was leaving us and so we hiked back up to the car and went on a long drive trying to decide where to eat. Finally settling on a quaint pizza place called Ogle's Brick Oven Pizza.  It was really good!  Then we stayed the night at a motel.  It was nice to sleep in a bit for once, let me tell ya!

We met back up with the family to go hike up to The Grotto Falls.  Brent took pictures from start to finish pretty much. Here are most of them...

 Our kids love playing in the water and this must have been very tempting... because they both got neck up to their necks...
 though not on purpose...
Chico fell in the water and he was pretty mad when it made Brent laugh seeing the expression on his face. Boy oh boy was he soaking wet!  At least we had a few extra sweaters for the boys to change into.

 We tried two different types of shots. I like them both!!!

Chico wanted one of just himself...

Chico commented that we have a selfie just like this one... so what!? It's a good pose for us. lol

Chico also thought it a bit dumb for Brent to take a picture like this next one...

 Sanna face planted in the mud...  it was like one little spot of really wet mud and she fell right in it!

On our way out of the falls we saw a lot of beautiful scenes. This one was pretty enough that Brent hopped out and got some beauties.

And here is a picture of the safari tent we stayed in!!!