Sunday, May 3, 2015


 Life seems to get bogged down with the routine of work, school, practices and chore work and it becomes a necessity from time to time to recharge and get away from it all. So two weeks ago we took the kiddos for a much needed vacation to Tennessee. Jeff and I went there on our honeymoon 18 years ago and we were excited to go back this time with the kids. I will break it down from what we did day to day so you can all see all the fun they had.

Tuesday: Headed out at 6 am for a 8 hour car ride! Praise the Lord Maddy got in the car and slept until 10 along with the kids and I snoozing also. She took another short nap after lunch until we arrived making it a very pleasant ride on the way down.

We got there an hour before we could check into our cabin. We wanted to take them to the Apple Barn as that was one of the places we remembered we went to 18 years ago. So we headed there first.

Here's a picture of Jeff 18 years ago at the Apple Barn. 

Here we are 18 years later in the same spot! We never imagined then we would be back with so many little blessings. 

Time to check into the cabin. We were able to find a cabin with three stories so the kiddos would have plenty of room to run off their energy and have a fun time hanging out. 

Checking out the cabin with dad. 

After getting settled we headed back into Pigeon Forge. I had heard about this ride called the Alpine Coaster that takes you through the mountain. Jeff, Liv and Josh all went and had a blast. They would highly recommend it! 

Next that evening we headed over to The Island at Pigeon Forge. It had this amazing fountain that was synchronized to music and at night lights up.  

We spent quite a bit of time watching it and just relaxing after a long day in the car. 

Daddy thought ice cream would be a good  treat to have while enjoying it. Maddy really likes hers!
18 years later! I love this man more than ever. So blessed to be married to such a great guy!

The  three of them at the cabin enjoying a late night in the hot tub.

Wednesday: Today was my favorite day of the trip. We spent the day walking trails and exploring the Smokey Mountains. We then finished it off in the evening with a delicious dinner at the Old Mill Restaurant and taking them go-cart riding. 

Getting ready to hit the trails bright and early!

Maddy started out wide awake and taking in all of the beauty around her.

Cataract Falls was one of the things we saw on the trail. 
Enjoying the waterfall. 

Josh exploring the creek along the trail. 

Nate discovered this fallen tree and thought it would make a good teeter totter.

Within 10 minutes of the trails she  was passed out!

Next we headed up higher to Cades Cove. Time for a lunch break!

Bears!!!! The only thing Nate wanted to see on this trip was a bear in the wild. He was beyond thrilled when we saw three bear cubs playing in an open field. 
Sitting on top of the van for a better look at the cubs (and Nate was afraid mama bear might appear). 

Enjoying  Cades Cove. It was so beautiful!

Notice Nate has his binoculars.....he's bird watching.

She loved running in the open fields.

As did her siblings.

The girls walking around the historic village.
The river was so pretty as you followed it up to the top of the mountain.

After the park we went back to the cabin and got ready to go out to dinner. We love the Old Mill Restaurant. It was so good!
Time for a little fun to wrap up the day!

Thursday: For our last full day, we first headed to Gatlinburg and visited the aquarium. In the afternoon we drove to Clingmans Dome,, which is the highest point in the Smokey Mountains. In the evening we grabbed some pizza and went to a live show. It was another busy, but fun day for all. 

Nate being a great big brother as he helps watch her first thing in the morning.
First stop at the aquarium was of course to see the penguins. Nate's absolutely favorite animal!
Maddy likes them too!
Everyone gets to pet a crab. Maddy wasn't even scared. 
The rays put on quite a show for us. 
After lunch it was time for the hour drive to Clingmans Dome. The kids were excited they were in North Carolina. They can now check that state off their list of states visited. 
What a view! 
It was 20 degrees colder up there and very windy!!
Once you park you have to walk another.5 mile up an extremely steep hill to get to the dome. I carried Miss Maddy up to the top. What an exhausting trip it was.  Here's the actual dome we walked up next to get to the highest point. 

We made it! 6,643 feet in the air! I can't express enough how windy and cold it was up there. I was terrified and refused to go the edge. Jeff and Livy were the brave ones and walked to the edge. I was so scared as I thought for sure the wind would push them over. 

Do you see the fear in the boys and my face? We just want to get back down as quick as possible. At least we said we did it!

We did it! Now the hour trip back down. 

In the evening we headed back to Pigeon Forge for dinner and to go to the Lumberjack Feud show. 
Josh was chosen from the audience to be a part of the show. He was so excited! 

They couldn't have chosen a better kid for the job as he loves Angry Birds. He had to shoot balls in a huge sling shot. 
They gave him a souvenir for helping out.
Maddy enjoyed the show too!

What a long, but fun day. They were all ready for bed that night. 

Friday: Time to head out. Our original plan was to get up early and stop somewhere else on the way home to visit.  However, once we got in the car and got going there was only one place where we all wanted to be. Home! 

What a great time we had. I think they all enjoyed not only making memories, and spending time together, but also seeing all the beauty around them. It's so amazing to see God's hand in the beauty that surrounded us. He loves us so much that He created such wonderful views like this for our eyes to behold and treasure. I don't know how anyone can say that any of this occurred just by chance. Their is only one God who can form such beauty. We are so grateful He allowed us time away to see it with our family. Maybe in another 18 years we will do it again!

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