When we were planning our trip to Ohio this summer I was determined to somehow combine it with an actual family vacation for us. We hadn't had an actual vacation as opposed to a trip visiting family in over a year...not that that isn't fun visiting family, it is, but I just wanted us to be away from home and doing what we wanted and relaxing a bit. So after many many variables clicked into place we were able to plan a trip to the Smokies. The kids and I were already in Ohio and my mom was already planning on driving to the Smokies the week after we left so she agreed to drive down a few days early and be our chauffuer. On our way down there we picked up my husband from the airport in Knoxville since he was able to get a cheap flight into there. His flight got delayed so it put us off schedule, but overall it was fine. We had just a couple days to enjoy in Bryson City where my grandparents vacation home is, and then we were off to Asheville for a couple days and we flew home from there.
Even though we were only in Bryson for a couple days we still were able to cram in a bunch of fun. We went tubing down Deep Creek which I had been wanting to do so badly because our kids are the perfect ages for it. We haven't been there in the summer for a couple of years and it was great. We got there and it had rained for days before so the water level in the creek was really high. The first tube place we went to rent tubes from turned us away when they saw we had kids with us. They said they wouldn't recommend us taking them down since the rapids were so fast. It actually had me pretty scared and we weren't sure what to do. We drove up to the park to check out the water for ourselves and while it was higher and faster than normal there were tons of kids in the water (lots of them younger than ours) and we decided to go ahead and see if another tube rental place would rent to us. We found one across the street from the first one and they didn't have a problem at all. We didn't go up as far as we normally would because of the high water, which was fine since who likes hiking all that way while carrying a huge tube anyway?! We tied our tubes together and off we went! It was all fine and fun until I got separated from everyone else and then got caught on a rock and flipped my tube! The water was rushing so fast it was knocking me over and I could barely stand and hold onto my tube. I was able to get back into it and I was fine, just shaken up and a little scraped. I was so glad it happened to me and not one of the kids. After that I was reluctant to go down again, but my husband and kids went a few more times and I went one last time after I rested a while.
Meanwhile, the kids found a box turtle and I was on turtle sitting duty since they wanted to keep him. I've become a softie and was fine with keeping him while we were in the mountains and setting him free when we left. My boy named him Turtie (ha, we kept reminding everyone to really pronounce that last 't' when we said it) and we took him back to the house and my boy put him in a box he had found in the laundry room. Well, apparently that was my grandpa's favorite box? Seriously, I can't make this stuff up...so my mom had taken the turtle out of that box and into a smaller one and he escaped. We had some sad kiddos and now of course we will always have to joke about grandpa and his 'favorite box'!
While we were in Bryson we were able to cram in some shopping in town, a dinner out at the Fryemont Inn for my husband and I, and a sleepover for my girl with her cousin who lives across the road from where we stay. The kids played in the creek and caught salamanders and crawdads. We had a bonfire (okay, it was really just a fire in my cousin's fire pit, but bonfire just sounds so much nicer!) and roasted marshmallows too. We had a great time! I didn't take out my big camera once, so here are my favorite iPhone shots of our fun.
I'll be back soon to share about the Asheville portion of our trip! I'm going back there in two weeks and these photos are totally getting me excited!