Monday, August 9, 2010

Out of order, fun filled June.

Hi, again, I just realized I never told about my wonderful trip to the Smoky Mountains in June.  I don't like to announce trips ahead of time or during, too much, as it just announces that "we're not at home", LOL, which in this day and age is not a good thing to do.

Anyway, for the past year we have been planning a special trip for this summer.  You see, we have a dilemma.  My folks and sister live about a half hour from us, but Mr. C's Dad and Step-Mom live in New Mexico, and our kids are both military families.  Right now, one of them lives in South Carolina and the other lives in Virginia.  Both are roughly 12 hours away.    Mr. C still has to work, we aren't retired yet, so vacation time is limited (although generous, as he's been with his company a long time).  Although we love our Big Sky Fifth Wheel, we made the decision to not make any trips West in it as  that is too time intensive, drive time wise.  Especially after Mr. C's Mom dying so unexpectedly brought home to us just how short time can be and how suddenly there is no "tomorrow" we try very hard to be sure to see his Dad and Step-Mom at least once a year.   So, here's the dilemma, we want to see Dad and Janet, and we want to see B, our daughter and the grandkids and N, our son, and the grandkids, but they are opposite directions and all fairly far away.  Usually we drive ourselves ragged trying to get in as much time as possible with them and find ourselves exhausted and not really enjoying any of it because we're so worn out.  I have to be honest, here, too. . . we've been empty nesters for about 10 years "off and on" now and are used to peace and quiet and our own schedule.  So, how do we meet all those needs/wants???

After trying to do separate trips the past couple years and having lots of drive time we decided we would double up a little.  So, we met Dad and "Mom" in Laughlin and spent a couple extra days in Las Vegas for our "self time" (saw Terry Fator) and I already blogged about that trip.  Then we planned a special trip for the kids time.

We told them a year in advance, worked around Mr. C's schedule and the grandkids school schedules and planned to meet in the Smoky Mountains.  So, we took our "Condo on Wheels" (roughing it has never felt so good, LOLOL) and rented cabins at the same campground for the kids, one for N's family,

one for B's family.

 A couple months before we went it turned out it would be possible for my Mom and sister to go along for most of the time.  So, we drove out with G and Mom following us and rented a cabin for them, also.

We all met there, there were 12 of us from 81 years of age down to 4 years of age, quite a span to keep all happy.  The only ones who were not able to join us were my Dad (he helped financially, but wasn't able physically to make the trip) and M (N's wife as she couldn't get leave).    Dad, my sister and myself, celebrating Father's Day early, since that is the weekend we were in the Smokies.

We had a wonderful week.  We spent time at Dollywood:

We went mining at Sheffield Mine and really hauled home the loot, LMAO:  but we had fun, LOL

We stopped at Clingman's Dome (highest spot driving through the Smoky Mountains.  We had a funny story there and I'm so glad they used their little noggins.  One set of our grandkids are very very tall, (so is their Daddy) but the other set is equally tiny (so is their Mama).  When we got to Clingman's Dome the 2 little girls E and L had to go potty.  So did Papa, so he took them to the potties and sent them into the girls while he went next door to the boys.  These are cinder block house style potties and I don't know why it never dawned on any of us that they wouldn't be regular potties.  But the girls came back out immediately and stood there patiently waiting for Papa (they were within all of our sight at all times, they weren't waiting there alone). So I went to see why they were done so quickly.  I got there and their eyes were as big as saucers and they said, "Nana, we can't go in there."  I asked, "Why not?"  They replied, "We were scared, it's too far down."  Puzzled, I took them back into the restroom and immediately realized, these were huge latrines on the top of a mountain, they really truly were too far down (the images that conjures just horrify me, try to imagine a rescue attempt, if you will!!!).  The seats weren't horribly big, just regular size, but that's pretty big when you have a tiny little behind, and unfortunately, girls HAVE to sit, LOL.  So I helped them and we took care of business, but it was so cute.

It was a lovely day and a very nice couple took a group picture of us:  So, here we are in all our glory, all 4 generations:

Just to let you know, the tallest male is M, our son-in-law, married to B, our daughter in the hat (due to her epilepsy she has to wear hats and dark glasses as Sun and flashing lights are triggers for her).  My Mom is in the center with N, our son, between Me and Mom (Mr. C and I are on the left) and my Sister is in blue on the right.  The kids are A and K (tallest boy--9 and girl--7).  The little guy in the orange shirt is J, he's just 4.

The two in purple are E in the center in front of Mom--almost 7, only two months difference between E in the center and K in the red and white stripes, LOL, and little L, who was 4 in this picture, but has had a birthday since and is now 5.  

We went to the Dixie Stampede and were royally dined and entertained.  Another not so funny story, about Dixie Stampede is that since I didn't know how to describe it to the kids I just told them we were going to a special show and they would love it.  A (as only 9 year old boys and teen age girls can do) decided he wasn't going to like it and didn't want to go and made sure we all knew it and were just as miserable as he was (I was ready to smack him!!!!  but I didn't!!!!, LOL).  Here is the group picture they took at Dixie Stampede:
Of course he ended up having a wonderful time and was laughing and excited and got to do a special thing as part of the show.  Yes, we talked about it afterwards and he says he understands, but????  He's a 9 year old boy, what can I say?

We drove through Cades Cove hoping to see some Bears.  No such luck, although we did see some wild turkeys, deer, and 2 red wolves.  

Our campground had a nice pool and a small pool and advertised that new for this year they had a lazy river, LOL.  We had to try it out of course:  It was about the size of a regular pool with an island in the middle so there was a ring of water about wide enough for one inner tube at a time, LOL, but it was still fun and silly:
We only had a campfire one night, it was so horribly hot:  
Our resident fire bugs and boy scouts couldn't get or keep our fire going, LOLOL.  

Since the kids birthdays are June 15, 17, 26, July 19, and August 22 we chose to celebrate ALL their birthdays while we were out there.  Since we don't get to do many birthday's or shopping with them, we chose to give them money and gift certificates and took them shopping so they could pick out their own gifts.  That was lots of fun.  But we still had a party of sorts and it included glow in the dark sticks you could make into jewelry:
Then, unfortunately, it was time for Mom, Sister, N and the girls to leave, although B and her family had an extra two days with us.  We went to a go cart place with a kiddie amusement park.  No, I did NOT ride the go-carts, LOL.  J and I watched the big kids (including Mr. C) ride the go carts 
and then we went to the kiddie rides for J.  
Finally we went back to the Cades Cove area where there was an area people could play in the river.  Those rivers out there are trout rivers and are COLD, COLD, COLD, but it was still fun and a beautiful day.  Some kind (or bored) soul had made river rock dams so there were little shallow "wading" pool areas for J and I to play in but the big kids went out in the COLD water, LOL.  I remember when I was young, it felt great, but now I don't like the water unless it's at least 84*, LOL.  

The simplest thing and the least expensive was probably the most fun in the kids opinions, LOL.

So, we had a wonderful week together in the Smokies and now maybe I can stand not seeing my grandbabies (who are growing up all too quickly) for another year.  I'm so glad my Sister and Mom were able to join us, as they haven't seen them since L was about 18 months and who knows when or if they'll see them again.  

So that is the saga of our busy, exhausting, expensive week in the Smoky Mountains with our family.  Would we do it again?  Sure, if we win the lottery, sure can't afford to do it every year, LOL.  I'll leave you with the birthday (July 4) and thank you gift we got for my Dad who is a history buff:


  1. Yay! Glad you're back. Missed you!

  2. Oh, the last picture is priceless!!
    Looks like you all had a wonderful time.
    What a great trip!