There is far too much to share from our vacation to try to get it all into one post, so I’m going to split it up a bit.
The first part of our trip actually started on Saturday with a drive to Raleigh for Aunt Jean’s retirement & Kent’s graduation party. My Uncle John is an award winning pig chef, so the whole pig and the extra shoulders all got completely eaten, in no small part thanks to Kaitlyn! We drove to Winston-Salem for a night at the Parent’s Bed & Breakfast.
The 230 miles from my parent’s house to our hotel in Pigeon Forge should take 4 hours and 14 minutes, according to MapQuest, but we decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville, and then up through the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest. Well, it was a pretty drive, but it bumped the drive time up to somewhere in the 8 hour range (well, to be fair, that included stops for picnicking and visiting the Folk Art Center, numerous stops for pictures, and a few little hikes). Still, by the time we got off the Blue Ridge Parkway we were to tired to even turn our heads to look at “another” beautiful vista.
One of the great things about the Parkway was the proliferation of tunnels. Kaitlyn loved them.
“Tunnel!” she would cheer as we entered each one. As soon as we exited back into the sunshine she would cry “Peek-a-boo!”
Our Pigeon Forge hotel was great – we found out that what we thought was a fair price for a junior suite with a King sized bed was a great price for a full suite complete with a fireplace (not that we needed that in the summer!). We had a double balcony from the bedroom and living room overlooking the creek, too, which was nice for playing cards outside after Kaitlyn went to bed.
On our full day in the area we went to a “family fun park” (mini-golf, go karts, etc) that we had seen in our after-dinner walk the day before. Pigeon Forge has a bunch of really neat go kart tracks – we’re talking multi-story, really long tracks – and Kaitlyn at 3’1″ was just over the minimum height for being a ride-along. She was very interested in what she thought was a roller coaster (“roaster coaster”), and Mommy videoed while Daddy and Kaitlyn went on the “Wild Woody”. Daddy rode again on his own, and Mommy and Kaitlyn checked out the kiddie area.
We had gone early to get the price special on rides, so it was still morning when we took a trolley into Gatlinburg. We walked all over the downtown tourist area, stopping for lunch at Wendy’s, ice cream (and bathrooms!) at Baskin Robbins, a trip up the Space Needle (which was ridiculously shaky and rusty – the web page is in better condition than the actual space needle, I’ll tell you that), plus countless little shops. There were seemingly hundreds of “antique photos” places and the regular tourist staples. It reminded me a lot of Niagara Falls, minus the actual waterfalls.
By the time we made it back to the hotel we were ready to just swim in the pool and order a pizza for dinner. The next morning we started the day by feeding the ducks in the creek. Kaitlyn’s last try at feeding bread was to fish in Asheville, and she put every piece she was given in her mouth. This time she laughed and talked to the ducks as she watched them dive and feed on the bread she, Mommy and Daddy threw (mainly that Mommy and Daddy threw, since she had the will but not so muck the skill to throw the bread). We then pulled out for our drive across the state to Memphis.
To be continued!