Saturday, March 21, 2015

Good Old Rocky Top

We celebrated St. Patrick's day in Gatlinburg. We began with an aerial tramway to the top of a mountain that had a ski resort and amusement rides. From there we took chair lifts to the summit for a great view.



Alex and Jason rode the Alpine slides as shown below the chair lifts




The view down was even better

We returned to the valley and walked through the touristy sights. We happened upon the Shamrock Lounge and posed for a Patty's Day picture. More chair lifts seen on the left.


Jenny in a Bottle



Herbie!






The next day we headed back to the National Park where a friendly ranger told us how to skip some of the climbing and get straight to the waterfall of Cataract Cascade.





Then we continued on to Cade's Cove, stopping to explore many beautiful spots along the road.










We saw crazy people prepping to put their kayaks in here.

The Sinks

Cade's Cove






When we got back to town, Jason pulled over so I could hop out for a coffee run. I was delivered into the path of our friends from home again. They said they'd had a great time at the Mountain Coaster, so we gave it a whirl. Alex and Gigi were not tall enough to go alone, so we attempted to have Ben ride alone, but he lacked the arm strength to control the levers. I got to go twice so that he could ride.

My kind of coaster, brakes included!

We headed for Pigeon Forge for the evening which reminded me a lot of Branson as many of the same attractions have sprung up along the Parkway. The boys wanted to play laser tag, but we found a movie version where Ben could stay seated, which was a better fit. Jason even earned some cred.





Thursday morning was a rainy day for checkout. We packed in more fun on the way out of town. We visited the Christmas shops and ate lunch at Flapjacks. We played a round of indoor black light mini golf and the boys played a wizard scavenger hunt.

Christmas Shops


Flapjacks
Finally, we checked out the Apple Barn for an afternoon snack of hot fritters before we hit the road for real, stopping for the night at my mom's. It was a very pleasant, low stress family vacation, and we avoided hospitals. Perfect. Bring on Spring and the fourth quarter of school.



Friday, March 20, 2015

On Top of Old Smoky

The blisters earned on my Arizona trek were still fresh as I packed our bags for a spring break vacation in the mountains. Our first stop was for lunch at one of my hometowns.

Don't tell the others, but you're my favorite.


We got some mixed signals from the Ice Cream Factory at first, but the locked door had the final say.



We continued on towards Nashville and stayed with my sister's family for a night to break up the road trip on the way down. The visit was too brief, but still a fun reunion. We should spend more time hanging out.

Andrew and Alex 

We arrived at our Gatlinburg destination, dumped our bags on the hotel floor, and went in search of nature. We found it just past the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at a little trail beside a creek.





We quickly learned that our plans of sticking to accessible and paved trails was not to be. Many were still closed for winter and one due to a rock slide. So we just strapped the wheelchair on the back of the van and took it where we could or had Ben walk for short stints with lots of rest. We found him a sturdy walking stick which helped.


Turkeys

The only completely accessible trail we encountered (Sugarland Nature Trail)

After the surprise of running into two families from our church, we went over the mountain to see what we could see in North Carolina. We drove through the Cherokee Reservation and had a picnic at the summit of Newfound Gap.


No children were endangered in the making of this shot.


Jason and the youngers were often pioneers, giving expedition reports to their backers.





Our Favorite Restaurant



Then we scavenged for waterfalls.

"Daddy, I'm out of gas."

Junkey Falls


Deep Creek Trail

Indian Creek Falls



Bryson City, NC

Elk

Mingus Mill



Stay tuned for Tuesday...