January 10, 2014

Tennessee Vacation

Back in the beginning of November we took our first vacation just the four of us.  Since the weather was getting cold and we didn't make any plans we just decided to head down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  

On the way down we made a pit stop in Kentucky to visit some family.  I used to go down here a lot with my grandparents when I was younger and haven't been down in at least 15+ years. It was exactly how I remember it though. Love it down there!  

After we visited for a few hours we hit the road again for the 3 hour final drive to Tennessee. 

We arrived late and checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Wilderness in the Smokies. It has an indoor water park and big arcade which was awesome.  We hit the water park first thing the next morning. 

After swimming for a few hours we headed to downtown Gatlinburg and went to the Ripley's Aquarium. It was probably the best aquarium I've ever seen.  We spent most of the afternoon there before doing some walking around and getting dinner. Then we headed back to the hotel for popcorn and a movie before bed. 

The next day we headed up to Ober Gatlinburg. It's a ski resort, but they also have rides, and a small animal exhibit with some bears. We mainly just went to do the Alpine slide. You ride the ski lift up then ride in little cars down the mountain. It was lots of fun, but Marley said I was going too slow. 

After we left Ober Gatlinburg we headed to the National Park and decided to hike up to The Chimney Tops.  It's a 2 mile hike one way with an elevation change of 1,335 feet.  It didn't start out too bad, but the higher you get the more rocky it gets. There were lots of tears from Marley once we got about halfway because "she was tired and her legs were going to fall off."  It took us a while to get to the top, but we finally make it and the view was amazing. Once you reach the top there is a large rock (chimney top) that continues up that you can climb to reach the very top. I stayed down with Mason and Marley and Mike made it about halfway up before he decided to come back because it was getting a bit scary.  We had to hurry and head back down because it was getting dark, and we actually made it back to the car just as it was turning pitch black. It took us probably 2 hours to get up and only 45 minutes to get down. Our legs were very tired! I just kept telling everyone that a 2 mile hike in Tennessee is WAY different than a 2 mile hike in flat Indiana. It was worth it though. 

Oh yeah, I hiked the whole way in flip flops! 

You can see the top of the chimney here, and if you look really close you can see Mike up towards the top. SCARY!! 

On our final day we just did some shopping and go karts in Pigeon Forge. 

We then drove up to Clingman's Dome which is the highest point in the Smoky Mountain National Park.  It was a half mile hike to the tower, but this time it was a paved walkway so it didn't take us very long and we could bring the stroller instead of carrying Mason like we did to the Chimneys.  Once you get to the tower you get a 360 degree view of nothing but mountains. Again, amazing!  While heading back down Mike and Marley decided to take some of the trails and I headed back down the path. I wish they would of come with me because I was alone and saw a mom and her 2 babies about 20 feet from me.  Then I realized that the bear was heading towards where I left Mike and Marley. EEKK!! Luckily they didn't encounter the momma bear but I was a little worried while waiting at the bottom for them.  We stayed and watching the sunset which apparently a lot of people do because the edge of the parking lot that overlooks the mountain was lined with people and their cameras. It was pretty funny to see all these people lined up taking pictures.  

We left from here and started our 8 hour drive home which got us home at about 2 am, but the kids slept the whole way so that was nice.  

We had a great time and Marley still talks about going on vacation, but I'm sure she just liked the water park. The best part was probably just seeing all the pretty mountains and since was early November all the leaves were still changing colors so it was so pretty. I have so many pictures of trees, but each one was prettier than the last.

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