Growing up ten minutes from the curvy roads of the SC mountains (yeah, you peeps in the northwest, go ahead and laugh) makes me a mountain girl at heart. I simply love them. So my family, in conjunction with all our loves for the mountains, go to the Smokies every year. We camp in Cades Cove, hike around, bike the loop, cook on a camp stove and by the camp fire (breakfast tastes a hundred times better outdoors), and generally have a good time. Well, a mostly good time. Sharon's right--we planned too much this year. You can see her assessment here.
So, here's my assessment:
- Having the whole family around. In the past, Will and Beth and the boys couldn't join us... it was great to have them along!
- Campsite cooking. I love cooking outside, and this year, as normal, it was tons of fun. (Of course, with a sturdy cook box, two coolers, and a decent camp stove, it's like having your own personal outdoor kitchen... )
- Borrowing a bike rack from a friend--and getting Daddy to adjust my gear shift, and my seat back. I now love my bike even more... lol...
- The bike rack was also great, since Daddy's ancient bike ended up breaking, and his homemade bike rack couldn't hold any more than three bikes at a time
- Visiting the Little Pigeon River... so the babies could play in the shallows, and we could meet up with Ben, who'd gone fishing. He caught some beautiful rainbow trout, and he cooked them over the fire. Will was amazed at their fresh flavor. Beth was umm... amazed...by watching someone gut fish for her first time... lol!
--Becca and myself with the munchkins...
- Stopping by the un-highest point in the Smokies... ! I'd always thought the overlook right off of the road was Clingman's Dome. Apparently, I've actually never been to it, since Becca noticed the sign that said "Clingman's Dome-7 miles" right after the overlook. I'll remedy that next year, though.
--Becca and I pretending to hike the Appalachian Trail...
- Going to the Aquarium of the Smokies wasn't my first choice of activities. I'd been there before, and, well, that was our worst day last year. But this year, after biking the loop that morning, it was a nice reprieve. And I got some priceless pictures...Renee entranced.... ...and Renee as a psycedelic fairy princess...
- The alternate route to the Smokies, avoiding Gatlinburg. The only problem was when we happened upon a driver. from. a. flat. state. with. no. curvy. roads.
- The cool coffee house in Cherokee. I've always thought of Cherokee as a pretty red-neck tourist spot, but this place had great coffee, just when Becca and I needed it...
It also had a drum circle in the back, which Becca and I didn't need...lol...I guess that's where the culture comes in.
What didn't work:
- Small creatures in the middle of the night. Ditto with jokes in the middle of the night. (I'm not sure I can do anything about Daddy's snoring...) I guess I'm a light sleeper... and it takes a night for my Thermarest to fully unwind and "cush".
- Planning too much. We felt rushed.
- I'm not quite as passionate on this topic as Sharon is, but long hikes with babies are a hard thing to do. Especially if he's an EC baby--and, well... anyway...
- Not enough pictures... lol... my camera was not attached to my wrist the whole time. A lot of my pictures, I wouldn't have had without Daddy taking over the camera. I've not looked at what's on his camera yet...**edit--now I have, and they're on my picasa**
--Some, but not all, pictures, are on my Picasa site... and Sharon has more on hers.