Since we moved this summer, we hadn't had a family vacation since we went to Washington, DC in the spring. With us settling in, and with me working multiple jobs, I knew that we needed some time together.
So we planned a trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, nearby Gatlinburg, and one day (plus a little more) at Dollywood. And this out-of-town excursion was a week-late celebration of having the first teenager in our family.
It was my first trip to any of these places, and I learned a lot.
- "Myrtle Beach in the Mountains." I swear, I never heard Pigeon Forge called this, until I was having lunch with a friend a week before our trip. The name fits perfectly, as we spent 3 nights surrounded by neon lights, T-shirt shops, and pancake houses.
- Gatlinburg is not Pigeon Forge. I really thought that both of these towns would have been identical, being only a few miles apart. But whereas Pigeon Forge is crowded, bright, and active, Gatlinburg seems to be quieter and more relaxed.
- A large mirror maze can make for major laughs. Don't get me wrong about Gatlinburg -- it
- We picked a perfect time to go. We went late enough in the year to be past the warm summer months, but before the area was swarmed by vacationers who wanted to see the color trees. And it helps to homeschool, where we can take a Friday off of school.
- Weather can change quickly in the mountains. Friday was supposed to be rainy, with scattered thunderstorms all day. But the rain (barely a drizzle) stopped by lunch. Which meant we got . . .
- Extra time at Dollywood. Dollywood's policy is that if you enter the park after 3 PM, you get in free the next day. We were already planning on going all day Saturday, so we got three bonus hours of fun on Friday afternoon.
- One of my sons is fearless on roller coasters. Elijah rode all the major rides with me,
- You don't have to actively participate in order to have fun. Joanna was joyful to see us come off of rides with big smiles. And when we rode go-carts one morning, Sender had fun just riding in the passenger seat with me.
- Our kids are grateful. I can't tell you how many times our kids told us "Thank you" over the course of the weekend. And they said, "This is the best vacation we've ever been on!"
And I'm so thankful that we could spend a long-weekend enjoying time together!
Note: If you want to see more pics, check out this album on Facebook.