Just 2 nights after we got home from Portland, we were packing up again to head south to Tennessee. We spent Oct. 16-21 with family in the Smoky Mountains as part of the boys’ fall break from school. We’d planned this trip long before the opportunity to go to Portland came up and while it was a little tricky managing 2 trips so close together, it was soooo worth it! We had several days away from home and were home in time for the boys (and me) to unwind before returning to real life.
Friday night, Oct 16: Dexter fell asleep at his regular bedtime (around 830) and slept the rest of the way…then went right back to bed. Crazy! Theo slept for maybe an hour and was ready for bed shortly after we got to my mom’s house as well.
Saturday, Oct 17th. We got to Pigeon Forge around lunch time and had some time to waste afterwards so we browsed the shops at Christmas Place. The boys enjoyed some fudge, ring pops, pressing some pennies, and a free train ride.
We got to our cabin around 3 and started settling in. My sister and her family got there a couple of hours later. The front porch with rocking chairs and a swing was a popular hang out.
We went to the grocery then grilled burgers and brats, then spent time just hanging out together. My mom, Ryan’s parents, and my sister and her family all stayed with us at the cabin Saturday night. My sister and her family had to go back home Sunday night because of work and school. I’m very aware of how lucky I am and how unusual it is for my family – the one I was born into and the one I married into – to get along so well and enjoy spending this time together.
Sunday, Oct 18th: A view of the beautiful cabin. We were trying to decide what to do on Sunday. Since all my family lives within an hour of Pigeon Forge, there’s not much they haven’t done.
After searching Google and TripAdvisor, I kept coming back to this quirky sounding attraction called Goats on the Roof that I’d never heard of and no one had been to yet. They have goats (yes, on the roof), a gift shop, a mountain coaster, gem mining, and and ice cream shop. Free to get in and look around so we gave it a shot. It was an interesting and fun place. The coaster was kind of expensive but we decided to do it anyway and we were so glad we did. It. Was. Awesome. I don’t know how to explain it any better than the internet did so go HERE if you’re interested. All the kids enjoyed the mining too.
Did you know you can still buy candy cigarettes? Only they are called “candy sticks” and they are still disgusting. But when they come in a Batman box and cost .99, you go for it. Smoke up, Johnny!
Another new-ish place in Pigeon Forge that’s super touristy and fun (what’s not touristy and fun in PF?) is The Island. Lots of shops and restaurants and overall just a nice place to walk around on a pretty day, which is what we were dealing with. Rocking chairs all the way around a big, beautiful fountain. Unique shops. Something for everyone-I think everyone really liked it there. We ate lunch at Margaritaville, which was ridiculously overpriced (what’s not ridiculously overpriced in PF?) but good.
Theo did this cute ropes course for little kids and really liked it. If I’d been dressed more appropriately for the activity, I would have taken him on the big one. It looked awesome!
He did great!
Penelope and Dexter were too small for the ropes so they got to ride the Ribbit thingy. Look at those little faces. Pure joy. So cute.
This is a stunningly good photo considering the number of people and the fact that it was taken by a stranger. To his credit though, he was carrying a camera similar to mine, which is why I trusted him in the first place to do a decent job. I love this picture and I LOVE my family!
Penelope, Steve, Cher, Malachi, and Isabella.
My mom and all of her grandchildren.
Back at the cabin, it was chili for dinner and games for fun. My sister and her family left after dinner. Early to bed for me, knowing we had a big day at Dollywood the next day.
Monday, October 19th: Dollywood day! I was a little worried that the park had short operating hours (10-6) but that proved to be more than enough! I couldn’t believe it and I have never seen Dollywood so deserted. I’ve been to Dollywood a lot – we walked onto every ride or maybe had to wait 1 turn. It was fantastic. Dollywood is wonderfully themed and maintained which means a lot coming from someone so obsessed with Disney and their standards of excellence. Dollywood is right up there for me.
Other than looking pretty and having cool rides, there’s even more that I love about Dollywood now that I have kids. There are a handful of rides that they are still too small to ride but Ryan and I don’t want to miss. My mom and Ryan’s dad were all about riding while Ryan’s mom browsed through Craftsmans Valley. We were able to take turns riding things while 1 or 2 people stayed with the boys at one of 4 different play areas. They also do the parent/rider switch thing (similar to Disney) but with no lines, it wasn’t necessary. It kept the kids moving and occupied so the person who stayed behind with them wasn’t getting bombarded with a million complaints about being bored.
We rode every ride, ate a sit-down lunch, and were basically done by 5pm. We milled around until closer to 6 just because it seemed like the right thing to do.
Tuesday, October 20th: Me, Ryan, my mom, and the boys went for a hike up to Laurel Falls in Gatlinburg while Ryan’s parents checked out the Old Mill area and restaurant. We’d planned to eat together but there was construction traffic and the 1.3 mile hike up to the Falls took longer than we thought. It was really fun – I was worried the boys would be super lazy and make it miserable for all of us but it went better than I expected. No complaints on the second half of the hike which was all downhill. If you have to take little kids hiking, that’s definitely the way to do it! Unfortunately I didn’t realize my camera battery was about to die so I only had a chance to snap a handful of photos Tuesday.
After our hike and a late lunch, we went back to the cabin. We played games and started packing up for the trip home Wednesday.
Wednesday, Oct 21st: Packing up and moving out. When I planned this trip, I was thinking Sat-Wed in Pigeon Forge was more than long enough but there’s so much to do and our time there really went by so quickly. The end of vacation is always a little sad! h
Until next time, Smoky Mountains!