Thursday, July 14, 2011

Road Trip 2011 {Great Smoky Mountains}

Road Trip 2011 {Great Smoky Mountains}

This is post three about our road trip in June.  See part one here and part two here.

I've been to many national parks and I don't recall my grandparents and I ever going to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I guess we could have since we were in the area, but I don't remember it.  Their memories are just a little too cloudy to recall all of the places they've traveled so they couldn't tell me one way or the other.  When I have time to go through all of the childhood photos I have, maybe I'll solve the mystery.  Since I wasn't sure if I'd been or not, I definitely wanted to go.  Now I can check it off the list.

If you didn't know, Mark and I have a slight obsession with the National Parks.  We have a goal of going to as many as we possibly can.  As a child, my grandparents took me to many, but we'd like to make new memories with each other and our little family now.  To help the boys remember all of the National Parks they've visited, last year we bought them the "Passport To Your National Parks".  They get stamps for each national park, national monument and anything in the national parks system.  You can purchase a passport here.  Mark and I don't have a passport, but we recently purchased National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States and we put the stamps on the inside the front cover of the book.

I took so many photos in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that I've had a hard time narrowing it town to just a few to share.  Sometimes I wish we were all friends on facebook because I find it much easier to do a mass upload of 150 photos instead of trying to narrow it down to 10 for a blog post.

We are at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Sugarlands Visitors Center.

We stopped at a picnic area and decided to walk down to the river.
Ben and Papaw Jerry

Will's favorite adventure in the park was splashing in the river.  He LOVED it!  The water was cold and I wish I would have had better shoes.  I wore my TOMS so I took them off.  Will had on Keens and they were perfect for playing in the river. 

The next photos are at Cades Cove.

The boys getting their National Parks Passport stamped.

One of the neatest things about traveling is meeting people.  We met a really sweet family from New Orleans, LA.  They had the nicest kids who played tag with Will and Ben.  The boys were having so much fun they didn't want to leave.

Papaw Jerry, Ben, Will and Mamaw Carol
I think this photo is so sweet.

Gristmill that works

Ben and Will were fascinated by the water turning the wheel.

Will put dropped corn kernels into the area where they would be ground into corn meal.  That was really cool.

Jerry and Carol near an old building and wagon. 

Laurel Falls
We didn't hike very much since most of the trails aren't paved.  This is one of the few trails that is paved so we decided to try it.  Both of the boys were in strollers.  I'm terrified of heights so it made me feel a little better about their safety since they were strapped in their strollers.  There were warning signs all along the trail about keeping a close eye on your children because deaths have occurred from falls.  That was all I needed to read to make me even a more nervous wreck.  I made the hike, but not without a little freaking out, which you will see later.

We finally made it to the top!

The falls, but not the most spectacular view.

Laurel Falls.  It was well worth the hike.

Mark and the boys.  Both of the boys were exhausted and they fell asleep on the hike.  They both woke up after we started the hike back down, and they missed the waterfall.  Will woke up and asked "Where is it?" and we didn't have the heart to tell him that he slept through it.

Okay, here's my freak out moment.  Mark is NOT afraid of heights.  He went over the railings and took more photos.  Do you see the yellow DANGER sign?  Yep, he's right there by it!  I was not happy.  He never felt uncomfortable or nervous.  I, on the other hand, was about to pass out just looking over the edge.  I trust him, but I was still very nervous.  When he saw the photos, he commented that the guy in the green was closer to the edge than he was, and he couldn't figure out what was the big deal.  I reminded him that the guy in green is not my husband or the father of my children.  Not that I wanted him to fall over the edge, but I definitely didn't want my husband and Will and Ben's father to slip and have an accident.

Here's one of the photos he took from his phone . You can tell by the look on my face I was ready for him to come back to the bridge.

We made it!  That seemed a lot longer than 1.3 miles.

The only wildlife we saw.
 Butterflies, wild turkeys and a couple of deer.

Blogger is having issues so I'm going to share the remaining photos from our second day in the Smokies tomorrow.

To be continued...


  1. I meant to write this before, but I think it's awesome that your family is going on such meaningful, memorable vacations that your sons will look back on and smile about. It's admirable.

    Such great photos, too!

  2. Looks like a great family vaca! Great pics!

  3. What a fun trip! I love the picture of Grist Mill & I love old wood buildings.

    That is sad that your little guy slept during the waterfall. What a wonderful family vacation!

  4. fun city!
    family vacations are the best-to the mountains? even better!
    love your blog! xo


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