Monday, August 21, 2017

Family Vacation 2017: Gatlinburg, TN - Part 1

I have been taking my sweet time going through all of my pictures from our trip to Gatlinburg, TN in July 2017. I have so many pictures and so much to share that this will most likely be broken down into three parts, to cover each day.

We loaded up and headed out of Indiana around 9:00 AM on July 5. This marked our first trip as a family of four! The best thing about this trip for me, outside of the desperate need for a change of scenery, was that we were meeting my brother and his family for a joint family vacation. Now, mind you - when I say vacation this was a very short trip unfortunately, but we enjoy our much needed family time.

For those who don't know, I'm from Virginia. All of my family lives there still, including my brother, his wife and my two nieces. From where we currently live and my hometown, it's roughly 11 hours so we don't get to visit as much as we would like. We look forward to any time we get to see them. This trip also marked the first time they were going to met my youngest, Lennox!

Leading up to the trip I was so anxious about the drive. It was a little over six hours for us, which would be Lennox's longest trip ever. He barely last the 45 minutes to Costco so I didn't think for one second he would last the entire trip without a ton of breaks.

Much to my surprise, this was the boys all of the trip. Of course they took turns. One was awake and playing, the other was passed out sleeping. Lennox slept about 75% of ride, the other 25% he spent eating. Weston, he was living the life! We loaded his tablet up with movies and he either watched a movie (I'm pretty sure he watched Trolls a million times) or slept.

We arrived at the cabin right at 4:00 PM, which worked out perfectly because that was check in time. We arrived first, so we took that time to drop our bags, stretch our legs and turn into Ninja's - that's what every one does, right?

I wanted to walk around and take a picture of the cabin on the outside, but the "front yard" was nothing but trees. And again, the boys found sticks and the whole purpose of why we were at this random cabin went out the window. Weston picked up the stick first and proudly said, "Daddy, I'm Leonardo - who are you going to be?".

Once Lennox saw that Weston and Brian had a stick, well of course he screamed until a stick made its way into his hands, too!

Brian was quickly outnumbered but he held his own!

See this picture, it's pure joy! It's the little things people. Right in this moment, these sticks were providing them all the joy in the world. They were ninja's for at least 30 minutes.

After the ninja's took a break from fighting off the bad guys, we walked up the street a little. The walk was beautiful and sad all at once. As most people know, there was a wildfire in Gatlinburg in November of 2016. I knew there was a chance we would see some damage, but I didn't think we would see it as soon as we pulled up to our cabin.

This picture was taken at the bottom of our driveway looking across the street. That is how close the fire came to our cabin. It's amazing to see where the fire hit, it made it easy to imagine how the wind affected the direction and damage so drastically.

On the way to the actual cabin, you are driving at least 10 minutes worth of extremely winding mountain roads. I have been to Gatlinburg three times over the last several years and the roads back to all of the cabins still make me nervous. Along the route to our cabin, we saw so many damaged or destroyed cabins from the fire.

Many places were in the process of rebuilding. These picture were lots right around our cabin.

This is the view from our porch, many of the cabins around us, including ours, were built high off the ground. This made sitting on the porch and just looking out priceless. The camera didn't do the view any justice!

We rented our cabin from Cabins For You and picked the Eagles Landing Cabin, which was actually located in Pigeon Forge. If you are thinking about taking a trip to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area you must stay in a cabin. You get to enjoy everything this area has to offer. Brian and I previously stayed in a cabin before through Cabins For You, which is why we selected them when we started looking for a place to stay for this trip.

To see better pictures of where we stayed you can check them out on Cabins For You website. We thought this cabin would be perfect for us as soon as we saw the layout online. When you first walked in you entered into the main living area. Here we had two couches, fireplace, TV, ping pong/pool table, dinning room table that sat all of us perfectly and a full kitchen.

The kids room had a TV, two-sitter table, trundle bed, sleeper love seat and an old school arcade game that had Pac-Man on it. I don't know who played that more, the kids or my brother and husband!

One thing we loved about this cabin, is that it had two Master's and every room had it's own bathroom. Gave each family a little privacy when it came to bath time. I only captured a picture of one room, I know fail!

As soon as my family arrived, taking pictures was a second thought. We 100% lived in the moment and even though we didn't capture every single thing, we had an amazing time. As soon as the kids came in and saw the game table, that's where they all collected for a few minutes.

J.T., my brother, took on all the kids and Brian took on our oldest niece Cadence in an intense game of Pac-Man.

Once my brother and his family arrived at the cabin it was dinner time. We stopped in a pizza place called Mellow Mushroom in Pigeon Forge. This place was DELICIOUS! I ordered a individual pepperoni pizza, Brian had the sausagefest calzone, Weston had the kids french bread cheese pizza with broccoli and Lennox had the kids mac and cheese. The portions were a perfect size, we all had leftovers for lunch. If you're in the area, or planning a trip, this is a place to visit!

First night dinner out with four kids and four adults was an easy success. It was so nice to be with my family - honestly the kids could have been horrible and I wouldn't have cared. It just felt amazing to have us all together.

Once we made it back to the cabin after dinner it was well past 7:30 and the adults were ready to get the kids to bed. My sister in law stayed up for a while catching up on life and then because we heard weird noises - it was totally a scene out of any funny horror story. I'll tell you all about that when I give you my full opinion of the cabin in part 3! Before then, stay tuned for part 2 which is coming up later this week.

Have you taken a trip or vacation so far in 2017? If so, where did you go?

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