Sunday, June 30, 2013

tuesday in gatlinburg was my favorite day. 2 of 3

Before I continue my travelogue- I have to ask- why did no one tell me that Gatlinburg is run entirely by Russians?!  our hotel staff, servers at restaurants, fudge makers, t-shirt sellers- seriously 80% of the workers in Gatlinburg are RUSSIAN!  I loved it.  I loved talking to them and listening to them!

Day two was my favorite!  Metta and I woke up early and walked around outside while waiting for the boys to get up.  I love mountains- no matter where they are.  That freshness (although not quite as crisp as utah mts) is so wonderful.

After our hotel breakfast ( I LOVE hotel breakfasts) we made an early trek up a mountain!  to Ober Gatlinburg.   It's a ski resort turned 'most fun place EVER' in the summer.  I gave it that name because we had so much fun.

We rode the Gondola up the mountain!

The views were spectacular.  All of the kiddos loved looking out the windows.

 I think it was my first gondola ride.

Once at the top- things just got better.  Rides, games, views, fudge, and wild animals.

This picture is the best I could find to try and show how stunning it all was!  and the ski lifts were so much fun!  Here I'm trying to keep a hold of metta so she didn't jump.  No seatbelts. no ropes. nothing. One lady who passed us the other direction almost had a panic attack looking at me.  She shrieked something to us and then covered her eyes!  Our kids were actually really good and well behaved and I really wasn't ever nervous at all!

we rode up and down several times!!  You could buy a wristband and just play all day.

the ski lift dropped us off on top of another mountain to some awesome views and a band playing blue grass.  Metta danced and we got some pictures.

she loves my sunglasses.

and I got a huge bug right in my eye. stuck to the sclera.  kent had to fish it out. so gross.

I love this picture.  Kent was worried that Zeb had wandered off a cliff. He had just asked me: "where is zeb?!".

Aside from the lifts- they had some great kiddie rides-  and a few that we could enjoy, too :)

this one made zeb a little seasick. I love the swings!  the ones at lagoon called 'turn of the century' will always be my favorite ride ever.

I take a lot of pictures. and I love to post as many as I can.

Ike LOVED the waterslide rides!!  they were pretty fast and crazy! and very fun.

Ike was really proud of himself for going on this one with kent.  Zeb was too scared! it was really fast and had a big drop. plus- you got wet :)

we all went on this one a few times, too.

 except for metta. she went on it once and was DONE.  in her defense- it was a pretty wild ride!

the boys and I loved it, though.
Here's me on a duck with my new gatlinburg shirt.  I love it.  I'm so happy that neon and fluorescent colors and back in style.  tacky shirts are my favorite souvenir.  and this one's not even THAT tacky :)

they had a giant maze to find special stamps and finish in a specified time.  If you finished in time- you got a prize.  8 minutes was the lucky number. I think Kent tried to memorize the maze the first time through and got his time down to four minutes the second time - with the boys tagging along.  Metta and I watched from the observation deck.  They gave Kent free reign to the prizes and we took home a lovely Ober Gatlinburg coin bank :)  the boys got gliders.  way to go kent.

My favorite part of the mt was definitely the Alpine slides.  I'd never done them before- even in Utah!  we ran into a little trouble with our kids, though.  They each needed an accompanying adult to ride with them and we were outnumbered 3 to 2.  So- we improvised and asked unexpecting-yet kind looking- strangers :)

 Ike was so funny and begged to be the one to go with strangers every time!!

Kent took Metta and she sort of liked it :)

this picture is way too bright- but you can see metta's little stressed out face when they got to the bottom.  red and teary.   Are we crazy for taking our baby girl on all of these rides?  I didn't even think twice about them all- but the crazy looks we got from people made me wonder.

Zeb loved it.
the highlight of our day was our last ride.  We decided to do the alpine slide one last time.  We got to the top and were sitting on our sleds ready to ride when we were ordered off them rather urgently.  It was strange.  Then the workers rushed us into the little shed where the sleds were stored.  Then they grabbed their boom sticks.  There was a BEAR!!  SO EXCITING.  The ski lift bringing people up was suspended and we were told to sit tight.  Another lady and I got out our cameras and snuck out to get some shots.  behind the workers of course.  As long as they stood between us and the bear- I was safe- right?  you just have to be able to outrun the other people you're with!

the boys loved it!   we totally lucked out being there at the right time.  The little bear meandered around for about twenty minutes- and then ten minutes later they started up the lift again and let us slide down the mountain.
He's pretty cute!

we all got a little sunburned and we were poooped- but the day was so much fun.
I really think we got the best views in the whole mountain range :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

the GREAT Smoky Mountains really were that great! 1 of 3

 I LOVE Tennessee.  I was there less than three hours and I was already speaking like a Southerner.  I love the accent.  I couldn't help but pick it up.

Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains were AMAZING! so much fun.   I'm so glad we made the trip.  Definitely worth the drive!  We really want to head back in the fall!

The Southern hospitality sure paid off when it came to military discounts!  We saved a bucketload of money on everything we did thanks to Kent being active duty :)

First stop- our hotel.  It was in the perfect location and was the perfect hotel.  Right in the heart of the Smokies- at the head of downtown Gatlinburg.
Check out the views from the pool and our room!!  the mountains were so green and lush.  
Waterslide, pool, free breakfast, and freshly baked cookies at the front desk ALL of the time.  Our kids ate their own weight in Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

We spent A LOT of time at the waterslide and the pool.  Zeb and Ike would have been happy to spend our entire vacation there.  Pool time is the most exciting thing about vacations to them.

 and a waterslide?!  PURE HEAVEN.
  Metta was a NUTcase about the water.   and the slide.  Here she is checking out the steps up the slide.  we couldn't keep her off them.

She was so much fun in TN.  I thought she'd be a bit of a hassle with missing naps and staying up late- but she was the best of us all.  Everything just made her so happy.

She's definitely more of a water baby than zeb and ike were at this age.

 Zeb and Ike are so much like little monkeys.  Constantly climbing over each other- water wrestling- and laughing hysterically.

Our first night there we walked downtown and checked out the shops and entertainment.  And we had dinner at mellow mushroom pizza.  It was really tasty and not too ridiculously expensive :)
 Metta climbing mr. mushroom.
 I think she had the most fun of us all.  She LOVED everything. especially the music.  There are people playing bluegrass music in EVERY nook and crannie of gatlinburg.  She'd clap, dance, and sing a long.
 this was the 'great smoky mt moonshine' store.  They had dozens of wooden rocking chairs to sit in and enjoy the music.  The only bad part was the moonshine making going on next to the chairs.  It reeked.
Can you see Kent and the kiddos in this pic?  I loved downtown gatlinburg.  The weather in the evenings was quite lovely.

Neither Zeb nor Ike would get close to this lady for a picture.
We didn't get back to the hotel until ten-thirty!  the kids were troopers- but already complaining of tired legs.    That complaint never ended.