Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Break 2013 Pt. 2


We got into Gatlinburg Monday night and checked into the condo we found on We were a little skeptical about the place since we had no confirmation number or email or anything, so when we called a few hours outside of Gatlinburg to confirm and set up for a key pickup since we were getting there after office hours, we weren’t really surprised to find out they had no record of us. Luckily our unit was still available, and even better was that the rate they gave us was significantly cheaper than what the owner quoted us. Bonus! The unit was awesome…nice and big and clean. 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, full kitchen, balcony, whirlpool tub. And so close to the strip. We didn’t drive anywhere once we got there, which was so nice because traffic is terrrrrible.


Tuesday morning we walked up the strip, full of touristy things, and took the gondola up to Ober Gatlinburg, a ski resort with even more tourists traps. The girls and I thought it was a pretty fun ride, and Derrick just tried not to think about falling to his death. Ha. We checked out the view from the top and let the girls play around on a playset outside for a bit. It was so nice to be outside in the sun! They also rode the slowest, lamest, most expensive no-music carousel on the planet. But they didn’t care, they loved it.

DSC_1846DSC_1741DSC_1832DSC_1753 DSC_1764 DSC_1798 DSC_1804

We headed back down and had lunch at Bennett’s, a BBQ joint that was recommended to us by the tram operator. It was really good, and they were great with the kids—very accommodating. We’d definitely go back. By now it’s well past naptime but all the kids are doing great so we continue on our way and head for the aquarium. Apparently the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is the #1 aquarium in the country! And it was really amazing. The best part was this shark encounter, where you stand on a moving walkway through tunnels of the shark exhibit. It was like 15 minutes long! Super cool and the sharks got so close. We all loved it. They had a couple tanks with cutouts in the middle where kids can stand in them, which they girls loved. The penguins also had a space like that and they went through a couple times to stand in the middle of the penguins.


We went back to the condo for dinner and after baths went back out for some dessert. We went to Kilwin’s where the girls got Superman ice cream cones, Derrick got a pecan log, and I chowed down on some fudge. It was delicious.


In case you’re wondering where Callister girl #3 is, she’s been peacefully hanging out or sleeping in her car seat. That girl is a champ. Everyone slept great that night, which is good because the next day we would need lots of energy for the hike we went on.

We checked out Wednesday morning and had breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, which someone recommended to us. The reviews didn’t completely say it was amazing, but there was always a huge line to get into it. It was not amazing. Sure, the girls got bear shaped pancakes with M&M’s for eyes and buttons, but my crepes with canned peaches and raspberries were good but not out of this world. Fun little place to go to though.

We researched the best hikes to go on, and decided on one to Laurel Falls, which is the only paved hike in the Smoky Mountains, and supposedly very kid/stroller friendly. So we start the 1.3 miles up with the double stroller and the single umbrella stroller. And it’s tough. Really tough! We’re sweating within minutes, and I’m sure the wheels on our strollers are going to pop off at any minute. Sure it’s paved, but like 30 years ago! There are potholes and roots all over the place, and I’m positive I’m going to just straight up launch a child out over the steep drop offs at every pothole I hit. So many times I wanted to quit and turn around but then I’d see the next mile marker (which were NOT evenly spaced at all) and get a tiny boost of encouragement. Every person that passed us, either going up or down, commented on how brave we were to take 2 strollers all the way up. Most gave us pep talks, “You’re almost there! You can do it!” We were exhausted, but we made it! And all the kids cared about was having a snack.

The comforting warning signs on the way up. DSC_1864 DSC_1867The caravan up!DSC_1885Our “paved” trail up.DSC_1888View from the top. Perhaps a little more pretty in the summer or fall? DSC_18924/5 of us at the top! I look like a giant pink marshmallow in that shirt. Yikes. IMG_5028We stopped at a little park on our way to the trail (yeah…we got lost) and Summer went exploring with Derrick and then with me. We took a little selfie down by the stream. IMG_5013

And then we were on our way to NC! We loved Gatlinburg. I went when I was in high school, but it was fun to go again. It’s totally touristy, and so outdated, but there’s just something so charming about it, and totally seems like the kind of place you go every year and love it just because it’s a family tradition. I can’t wait to go again actually, but next time with some other families! Who’s with us?


vanessa said...

Looks fun! I've heard lots of good things about Gatlinburg. We'd definitely be up for meeting up there sometime. Only 4 hours away! :) You need to come visit us in Nashville too! BBQ and biscuits, hot chicken, country music, buy 1 get 2 free cowboy boots... Have I talked you into it? :)

Yours, Mine, &, Crazy Daisy said...

Looks great! Haven't been there since the mid to late 80's. Love the Smokey Mountains! Is Dollyworld still there in Pigeon Forge? Probably not, I'm guessing?