Tennessee: The List, part one

We’re back from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. And, I have to say, I left a little but of my heart there. I didn’t expect too. The Great Smoky Mountains were not on my Travel Bucket List. Not even close. But, I love mountains. These are not like the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They’re completely different, and both beautiful in different ways. God must love mountains too because He had fun creating The Great Smoky Mountains. Lush forests, rambling creeks, relaxing waterfalls, and rain. It rained everyday we were there. I am not complaining. I love the rain too.

the smokies
The view from our balcony

Thanks to my awesome sister-in-law, we had this amazing view from our suite. She shared her time-share dates with us. There were 4 suites that connected so that the family could hang out when it was raining.


An amazing suite: See…she does rock! And, they’re serious about not feeding the bears. You will be heavily fined if caught leaving peanut butter out to tempt them. We didn’t leave out peanut butter, but we heard rumors of other guests doing that.

Wish we had: spotted black bears. We were told that there are 2 mama bears with 2 cubs each living on the Resort property. Glenn’s cousin, who meet us there, was lucky enough to spot one of the mama bears as she crossed the resort road. The only wildlife we saw was a beaver and a crane.

What’s in our carry-on bags: magazines, coloring books, markers, summer journal, iPod/CD player, headphones/ear buds, snacks, camera, and blanket.

Ready for take-off!

Most surprising discovery: Alex was a scared by the turbulence. She is a seasoned flier.

Photography tip: give your 5-year-old your camera and let her take pictures out the plane window. You never know what amazing pictures you’ll get.

clouds from a plane
View from above

I wasn’t prepared for: how long it took to get a wheelchair for my mother-in-law at Denver International Airport. Traveling with two children, one senior citizen, and one husband who loves to proclaim, “I am just along for the ride,” (which means he is not taking any responsibility in the planning of this trip) is a lesson in patience.


What made the biggest “splash” with the kids: the Black Bear Waterpark at Westgate Resorts. The lazy river was a favorite.

I will never forget: the little African-American boy (maybe 5-years-old) who dropped his swim trunks and began peeing in the pool. He looked like one of those little peeing guardian angel statues you’d find in a Southern garden. (Do you have a visual yet?) It made me laugh so hard I almost peed in the pool too.

Delighted in: Alex being amazed by lightning bugs. After I caught one so she could see it up close, she innocently asked it they were hot. So cute.


Magic mountains: The Great Smoky Mountains. The clouds and fog roll in and it appears the mountains are on fire, or smoking. That is why they call them “The Smokies”. You must drive the scenic drive up to view the majestic mountains at Mont Le Conte (6,593 feet). Waterfalls are in abundance, as are 130 species of trees found among the canopies of the cove hardwood forests in The Smokies.


This was such a big trip that it is divided into three parts…to be continued.

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