Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Break: Family Style

On the last Sunday in March, Brandon, Micah and I loaded up, and departed for the Smokies. We left at 4a.m. for a whirlwind trip of 5 days. I use the word, "whirlwind," because when you spend two full days in the car, a 5 day trip is indeed a whirlwind trip. Pigeon Forge, TN, home to a truly ridiculous number of pancake houses, was our destination. On the drive up, we admired the lovely redbuds and dogwoods in glorious, full bloom, and the colorful wildflowers gracing the sides of the road. Rolling hills gave way to softly crested mountains splashed with varying shades of green. Mountain rivers and streams added beauty and shimmer to the latter part of our 12 hour drive.

Our schedule was almost as rigorous as the drive. On Monday, we spent the day in meetings, which resulted in a time-share purchase. I know, I know, they totally suckered us in. In our defense, they work hard to make you see the value and really want their product. On Wednesday, Micah took a 4 hour nap, which pretty much ate our play time. Therefore, Tuesday was our only day to do touristy things, and we hit it hard, which may explain the 4 hour nap the next day.

We began the day at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, and we all loved it! We explored a shark tunnel, a penguin playground and enjoyed the children's interactive exhibit with Micah. This place was incredibly cool, and we plan to hit it up again. We have a time-share now. Why not?
Micah and Brandon crawled through a small tunnel to get an inside look at the tank.

Micah found Nemo!

I did not care to touch a horseshoe crab, but the boys had fun.

I loved this enormous tank full of tropical fish. I could have watched it for hours.

Micah thought the spider crabs were cool. I thought they were creepy and entirely too large.

Why, hello there, Mr. Fish--
the obvious inspiration for the look of Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jellyfish are beautiful when a healthy distance is maintained.

This was taken right outside the Penguin Playhouse, and is my favorite pic of the trip.

Me, my boy, and the stingray who got up close and personal.

We left the aquarium, and before we got back to the condo, Micah had fallen asleep in the truck. Brandon packed us a quick lunch while Micah and I rested in the truck, and we were off to Cade's Cove--a gorgeous, free park featuring free-roaming wildlife, nature trails, and historical sites open for exploration.

Picnic cuddles.

The stream beside our picnic spot.

We really enjoyed Cade's Cove, but we were a little limited in what we could do. Two-year olds lack the patience for looking at historical buildings, and sleepy, nauseous moms who need to pee in a place where restrooms are far too scarce and people are far too many in order to feel any sense of safety behind a tree trunk have difficulty hiking 5 mile nature trails . . . or many one mile nature trails, for that matter.

Wait a second! That reminds me!

We're expecting! Thus the sleepiness, nausea and need for a restroom.
(I'm fully aware of how unimpressive this picture is. It was taken at 7 weeks. I wouldn't have known it was a baby unless the doctor had told me so.)

I'm only 10 weeks along, but I'm already into that ambiguous "Is she pregnant or is she getting fat?" stage. I hate that stage, especially when combined with the desire to sleep over 12 hours of the day and the urge to lose my breakfast.

Anyway, we plan to return to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area in the future when we have more time, and I'm not so miserable. We've barely tapped into the treasures these quaint little towns hold. And I'm not sure you can say you've been to Pigeon Forge without visiting at least one pancake house. Seriously.

Happy Monday!