Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Smoky Mountain Vacation

It's been almost a month since I've last written a post, and I almost felt like giving up on this blog. It really is very important to me to record what we do, how we're living and learning, and how my kids have grown, changed, and continue to change.

It can be difficult to keep up with the writing when your  life is so very busy, but I've decided it would hurt more now to drop the project than the frustration it feel now to get caught up. I really want a detailed record of our lives starting from when the kids were two until they turn twenty-one.

So, here goes.

We had a wonderful traveling adventure to the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We left on Saturday, July 17th and came home on July 25th. It was a long car ride, about twelve hours, but I was really proud of the kids. There were a couple of short squabbles in the backseat, but for a huge majority of the time, the kids played well together. I brought several books on tape, and we read many books together. They drew, sang, looked out the window, and took a 45 minute nap. I brought a bag with a few toys, and I'm so glad I did because it kept them happy for a long time.

We stopped for lunch at a fast food place in Pigeon Forge. The map said ten more miles to our house, but the traffic was outrageous, and it took us an hour and a half to get there. I suppose the fact that we were a little lost didn't help, either.

The house we rented was absolutely perfect. It was in the mountains, and fairly secluded on one side. The neighbors on one side, a little further up the mountain, decided to have a party the night we arrived, so it sounded like a concert was going on, but besides that night it was very peaceful. There was one huge master bedroom where we all slept, with an en-suite bathroom. Outside the bedroom was a huge Jacuzzi tub. Downstairs we had a living room, kitchen, pool table room (which the kids LOVED playing on), another bathroom and laundry room. Each level also had a porch, and on the lower porch there was a hot tub, which the kids adored.

I'm going to post about seven more entries about all the fun with had with hiking, wading, swimming, sliding, skating, and other great things, but for now I have to say, one of the greatest things about this trip was just the simple things we did together at the house.

I'm a huge believer in renting homes when traveling instead of staying in hotels, if you will be gone for a week or more. This place was only $725 for the week, and it was much, much more room than staying at a hotel, quieter and more private, and an awesome way to build very special memories.

Just things like cooking breakfast for yourself (I should say Steve cooking the breakfast!), ordering food back to eat at night while watching a movie together, playing games and even just curling up together on the couch to read, seems more special in different surroundings. (I suppose for me part of the special feeling was not worrying about picking up any clutter or cleaning!)

I highly, highly, recommend renting a home the next time you travel. I have used Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) several times now, and we will be using them again as I plan for our travels to Greece next year.

It was so peaceful to sit on the porch, high above the ground, on the side of the mountains. The picture at the beginning of the post was taken from the back porch. One evening we watched a flock of wild turkeys run through the trees.

Yes, it does take a little time to go grocery shopping. And it does take some time to cook. But we had a gas grill on the porch, and we did bring back food from an Italian restaurant one evening, and we had a dishwasher (something we don't have at home), so it wasn't bad at all.

The kids still talk about wanting to go back to their "Smoky Mountain home." It really feels, just like it did in the Cayman Islands, that the place has become a part of us now.


Diane said...

We have been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge many times. Time wise about 3 hours from us. The traffic in Pigeon Forge can be a nightmare. We really want to visit the Titanic Musuem when we study it near the first of the year. To answer your question about Nature Study - we loosely follow the Outdoor Nature Challenges from Barb at her Nature Study Blog which also uses The Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock. If you would like the info just let me know.

Nicki said...

I was in Gatlinburg when I was a kid once. We went hiking in the forest... and got chased by a bear! I love the Vacation Rental idea. It would feel more like actually living like a local, instead of being a tourist!
iBy the way, one of my blogs, Dupage Kids On The Go, is moving to ChicagoNow's blog panel. You can find me there now at ! I hope to see you there!

Chris said...

Diane - If you could pass along the address of the blog, that would be great, especially if it's adaptable to all developmental levels.

Nikki - I will definitly head over to your new home soon.

Lynn B said...

Great travel ideas, Chris. I LOVE the picture of you reading to the kids. They are so blessed to have the intentional life that you and Steve work to create for them... such a special childhood!