Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Gatlinburg Family Vacation--- Day 4--Sharks, Cooter's, and swimming

Wednesday, July 15, we decided to brave the mountain and see if we could get down to town without killing our brakes! The man that fixed our brakes recommended that we down shift as we were coming down the mountain, and that is what we did and it worked beautifully. We made it down in one piece!

Our first stop was at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I knew that the kids would love the aquarium and it did not disappoint. Their exhibits are great.

Their shark tunnel, in my opinion, is one of the best in the world. There were a lot more sharks in it than I remembered from when we were there in the past. They were especially active, we think because there were divers in the tank cleaning some of the coral...

 Benjamin really loved all the fish and he really loved the penguin exhibit. He kept calling them "birds."

After we left the aquarium, we headed across the street to “Cooter’s.”

If you have ever watched the “Dukes of Hazard” then you would recognize this store. With the recent uproar over the Confederate flag and it’s symbolism and the fact that Bill was a "Dukes of Hazard" fan, Bill really wanted to go to Cooter’s. So we did.

After we left Cooter’s we headed down the street to a mall type place that had several different stores in it and we looked around. Bill went to a hot sauce store and I stopped in at trinket type store and bought Christmas ornaments for the kids to hide until the feast of St. Nick.

After we left that complex, we decided to head off to lunch. We knew exactly where we wanted to go. When we were on our Honeymoon, we fell in love with a restaurant called Calhoun’s. We decided to go there for lunch.

The food again did not disappoint! Bill was able to get his Mountain Light beer, which is brewed next door to Calhoun’s and is only available in middle Tennessee. I had a bbq pork sandwich which was so good!

After lunch, we explored the little creek behind the restaurant, which was actually the same creek that Bill had walked in our honeymoon. There was a little swing set there and the kids had a blast. 

As the temperature was rising, we decided to head back to the condo and go swimming again. The weather was perfect for swimming and the kids again had a blast.

After swimming, we hung out around the condo and the kids played in the loft area.

Overall, it was a great day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gatlinburg Family Vacation-- Day 3--IN the clouds

Tuesday, July 14, we knew that it was supposed to rain all day so we had already decided to stay in. In the morning, we got up and ate breakfast. Bill took the trash out to the dumpster, as he hadn't wanted to do it the night before in case of bears and the kids watched cartoons.

Throughout the morning, the clouds decided to roll in and they came and dropped over top of us.

It was really a cool experience to have the clouds drop over us and to be IN the clouds. It poured down rain for the most of the morning. In the afternoon, the clouds lifted for a couple of hours and the sun came out, so we took the kids back to the pool for some more fun.

After the pool fun, the clouds started rolling back in again. Bill and I were both feeling stuck on top of the mountain, so we decided to order in dinner for us-- sort of like a date night. I made chicken patties, fries and blueberries for the kiddos and we ordered dinner to be delivered from the Chalet Village Market.

I had a bacon cheddar burger from the Chalet Village Market. It was SO good! After dinner, we just hung out and watched some TV.

We went to bed hoping we could go down into town the next day. We were excited to see what day 4 would bring!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gatlinburg Family Vacation-- Day 2--No brakes!

Monday morning, July 13, we got up and ate breakfast at the condo.Then we decided that we were going to go down into Gatlinburg and take the kids to the aquarium. 

Well, we were going off directions that we had printed off the internet. As we were heading down the mountain, we missed a turn and so Bill pulled off to see where we were. Right after we missed the turn, I started smelling a burning smell and when we stopped I noticed smoke coming from the driver’s side tire. Uh-oh…. 

Bill called AAA, and he had some issues with them. Thankfully, the owner of the cabin whom we had stopped by came out and offered his assistance. Our good Samaritan was willing and able to take the boys and I back up to the condo, while Bill and Rebecca waited for the tow truck. This man was originally from Ohio and had actually been in Ohio until the night before when he had to return for work. He was an angel in disguise for us. He was also able to give Bill the name of a guy that works on brakes and that wouldn’t charge us an arm and a leg. 

Long story, short, we blew a caliper on our front brake from riding the brakes down the mountain, which you had to do with the hairpin turns and the way the streets were going down. The shop that Bill had the van towed to, Sim’s Telstar Tire and Propane, only charged Bill $78 to do the brakes. Rebecca was so excited because she got to ride in a tow truck. They were willing to fix the brakes while they waited, and there were other customers there that gave advice on how to handle driving in the mountains. 

After they got the brakes fixed, Bill and Rebecca went back to Kroger to get more groceries for the week and for the next day. It was supposed to be rainy all the next day and we had already decided to stay in all day on Tuesday. 

When Bill and Rebecca got back, we took the kids to the condo’s pool and they had a blast in the pool. Benjamin especially LOVED the pool! That night for dinner, Bill made the kids hot dogs.  After dinner, we just relaxed and went to bed. 

Thankfully, Benjamin gave us very little fussing at sleeping in a big bed in a completely different room. Small miracles for the day. We were all looking forward to putting the stress of the day behind us, and seeing what day 3 would bring. 

(To read about the rest of our Gatlinburg adventures...see Day 1)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Gatlinburg Family Vacation--- Day 1--on the road and the first KFC

We decided for our 2015 family vacation to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was to be a celebration of our 10 year wedding anniversary… to go back to the place that Bill and I honeymooned, yet this time with 3 kids in tow.

We left early Sunday morning (July 12, 2015). The kids were so excited to go. We headed south out of Ohio into Kentucky. We were going to make a stop in Corbin, Kentucky to visit Sanders Café-- the very first KFC restaurant.

We made it for a late lunch, after not being sure where it was. They had typical KFC food, and a small museum set up. It was a neat place to eat lunch.

After, we left Corbin, we headed back onto the road to head to Gatlinburg. The kids napped for part of the ride.

Before we headed to Gatlinburg, we stopped off in Pigeon Forge at Kroger’s to get some essentials to last us through the next afternoon. When we stopped at Kroger, I noticed the we were missing our back 2 hubcaps--we believe someone stole them, while we were stopped in Kentucky.

After we left Kroger's, we headed to our condo…..we kept going up, up and up on this mountain. I didn’t realize how high up in the mountain the condo was when I booked it online....

We were staying in the High Chalet condominiums at a condo that the owners called “Above the Clouds.” We were pleasantly surprised to see that the condo looked exactly like what was shown on line. We rented through for the first time and we will use them again.

After bringing in all the luggage and things, we started thinking about dinner.

It is a tradition that the first night of vacation we order pizza and have it delivered. There was only a couple of places that delivered high up where we were….so we ordered from Volunteer Pizza. The pizza was okay….not bad, but not great either.

After dinner, we enjoyed the views from the balcony and then headed to bed exhausted after our day of driving,but excited to see what day 2 would bring!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Run, run as fast as you can....

That childhood rhyme is about how I felt this week. We got back from vacation last Saturday afternoon. Sunday we went to church and then came home and my plan was to get some stuff done, including planning for my tutoring sessions this past week, doing laundry, etc. What I didn't count on was being in bed most of the afternoon with a stomach ache that would not go away. It was not fun at all. When I got up Monday morning, that meant I was behind before I even started. 

I had such a busy week....
  • tutored Monday morning, Ben to speech Monday afternoon, home to drop him off then Rebecca to the doctor for her physical. Had to make phone calls to old doctor for her shot records. Then spent the evening planning out tutoring for the rest of the week.  
  • Tuesday, I spent the morning answering emails from last week and taking the kids to the library to turn in their summer reading program logs and get their prizes including a new book each. Home for lunch, then rushed back to library for a tutoring session where the child was  a no-show. The mom texted me that she had told me he wouldn't be there this week or in 2 weeks. I had the absence in 2 weeks written down but not this week. Aargh. Back home, fell asleep for 1.5 hours and then I had to go to an American Heritage Girls board meeting. Stopped at Walmart on way home to get chocolate. 
  • Wednesday, started laundry and worked on tutoring some. Had to drive 45 minutes to take Jacob to a doctor's appointment which took 2 hours, back home, made dinner, Rebecca had softball practice. 
  • Thursday morning, I had to work on some tutoring stuff in the morning, then had tutoring at the library for 2 hours, then home to tutor another client and spent over an hour talking to her mom after about a potential home-school job as a tutor as she is going to be homeschooling her girls; sent Bill out with Rebecca to a beach party for her old softball team, told him to bring Chinese food home for us for date night dinner; ate then crashed asleep.
  • Today, started a load of laundry, then left for errands---the kids and I went to Walmart, Aldi and Kroger getting home around noon. Put tons of groceries away, as I had to do a big shop as we were out of almost everything. Packed everyone back in the van, including Bill at this point, and headed out of town 45 minutes to a town where we had 2 stores to go to....we stopped at Max and Erma's for lunch and then went to Play it again sports to get Rebecca new softball cleats, a new bat, and a new batting helmet as she outgrew her other ones. We then stopped at a Goodwill store that a friend had told us about and I was able to get Rebecca 3 new outfits for winter, a pair of capris, a dress, a skirt for her American Heritage Girls uniform, a brand name jacket, 3 shirts for the boys, a jacket for Jacob, 2 pairs of running shorts for Bill and pair of shorts for Jacob for $66. All brand name items and in great condition. Will definitely be making this a seasonal trip. 
Now I am back at home, kids have been fed dinner and I am working on laundry. Kid are watching "Toy Story 2" and we are just relaxing. It has been a LONG, crazy, running kind of week. I feel like the Gingerbread Man....

How was your week?