Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Tuesday, June 14
Today was our first day to really experience what we came for, the beauty of the Smoky Mountains! We enjoyed a great sit down breakfast at one of the many pancake houses in Pigeon Forge. Seriously, what is with pancakes and this town? There was a pancake place every other building it seemed. We had a great breakfast and headed out in the two vans to the entrance of the national park.
The plan was to enjoy the drive and head into Cades Cove and drive that loop. It features old cemeteries, churches and other buildings.
On the drive in, we stopped at a few places to just enjoy the creek. William had a ball throwing rocks and loved it when Alan threw a HUGE boulder in the water.
We also spotted a little spot where 4-5 gorgeous butterflies were hiding out!
We continued on the drive to Cades Cove, where we spotted wild turkey and a deer. My parents got a pic with all of the grandkids.
Then we finally made it to the little village and explored the mill and old buildings. The mill was operational and we were able to purchase some ground cornmeal from it!
On the way out, my parents and sister and her family spotted a black bear and its cubs, but we couldn't find a place to park since we were driving the larger van, so we missed it. We stopped for ice cream at the campground area on the way out.
We also spotted a few waterfalls on the drive back. I would have loved to have hiked over to it, but with all the kids and the baby, it just wasn't going to happen. Maybe another trip.
We also saw many spots where kids and adults were swimming and jumping off cliffs. We stopped to have a look.
We made the drive back and stopped in Gatlinburg for a bit to shop. Oh the cheesiness was oozing from every crevice. Cheesy souvie shops, Ripley's Believe or Not Museums, candy store after candy store etc. The streets were pretty crowded with foot traffic too, so we didn't shop for long. We did find a little alcove that had some decent real stores. Note mini golf in the background (again, they were every 100 ft or so it seemed!).
That night, we had dinner at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. The food was delicious, all home cooking! All in all, a great day, taking in the beauty of nature!
Monday, June 27, 2011
Monday, June 13
William enjoyed the kids playground area there and then discovered the "beach". They had two large sand tables set up with sand and toys. He loved it and later asked to go back to the "beach". Alan figured out what he was talking about....the sand. Oh the mind of a toddler.
We got back to the cabin and got William down for a nap and same for Brynley. As you know, a cabin doesn't really have any insulation, so we could hear every single footstep, someone grabbing a drink from a cooler upstairs etc. Wasn't great for getting the kids to nap, but what can you do?
We had bought a ton of food at the store of course. If you've ever eaten with the Easler clan, you know we always have way too much food. We decided to grill out tonight- chicken, hot dogs and burgers. Jeff is our king griller. But we all joked that it was taking him like 3 hours to grill. Turns out we didn't have enough charcoal, but we got it all grilled eventually and it was delicious. We ate sort of late, around 8pm or so. We enjoyed a nice relaxing afternoon and a great home-cooked dinner. Everyone enjoyed an adult beverage and hanging out on the deck again. Loved the rocking chairs out there. Time for night-night and resting up for another big day tomorrow!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Vacation- Day 2
Sunday, June 12
We finally locate the right cabin and the code works. Thankfully no one was home in the other cabni we had been trying to get into. We would have felt really stupid. Our cabin is a nice spacious cabin with two stories. Master bedroom, bath (with jacuzzi tub), living area, dining and kitchen plus a huge balcony. Downstairs are three bedrooms, 2 baths, a den and pool table, plus a lower balcony. The one thing missing? Insulation. Oh yeah, log cabins don't have that. Poor Mandy took the room under the stairs, not realizing she would hear every single footstep on the stairs as the baby tried to sleep. We could hear anyone getting a drink out of the ice chest in the dining room or opening the balcony door upstairs above our room. It sort of became a joke after a while.
We were starving after getting settled in and headed to the main strip in Pigeon Forge for a late lunch. We found a McAlister's which sounded good since we wanted something light. It was after 2pm already. Next was time for groceries. It became a game on our last big family trip to the beach two years ago to see how many times we could stop at the local IGA. Fortunately we only made two grocery stops or so this time. The grocery store had beer, but did not sell wine. So strange. Only Gatlinburg sold wine and liquor. I just thought it was odd to sell beer, but not wine?
Half of us loaded into the smaller mini van for the trip to Kroger. The others took all the kiddos back to the cabin for a while to burn off some energy. We ended up buying groceries to make dinner twice and enough for lunches and quick breakfasts. And beer, don't forget the beer. Lots of beer. Oh, and ice. To keep the beer cold.
We also checked out some of the views further up the cabin area- some really amazing ones!
That night, we had to find a sports bar for dinner. Why, might you ask? Our precious Mavericks were in game 6 that Sunday for the NBA championship! We asked around at the store, management office etc. for a good suggestion. Someone mentioned a new Buffalo Wild Wings that had just opened down the road. We tried finding it online and no luck, no phone number, nothing. Finally we just risked it and drove over that direction and ended up finding it. We got seat, had a nice dinner and watched the game until half time. But watching a full game at a sports bar isn't conducive to kiddos or a baby much less. So most of us left at halftime. My brother in law, Mike and my parents stayed to watch until the end. My mom is a HUGE Mavs fan as is Mike. The rest of us watched it back at the cabin where we could lay the baby on the floor without risk of her being trampled by a drunk guy.
As you know, we got our happy ending and the Mavs won! After a long day of travelling and basketball, it was time to call it a night.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Mommy, Ally is hiding." ....as he woke up on our last day, realizing Ally, who had fallen asleep in the same bed as him, was now gone (she left early that morning to head home with her family). He thought she was hiding and didn't realize she had left.
Best of all, on the way home and this week, William has already been asking to go back. "Mommy, can we leave on vacation again?". So sweet. Little does he know we are heading to San Diego for a quick weekend getaway in late August and then Disney World in October!
Monday, June 20, 2011
We stopped at a great little barbeque place for a nice sit down lunch and stopped just outside Nashville for the night. After checking in, we headed across the street to Cracker Barrell, a favorite of road trippers nationwide.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
So you might not be aware, but my son has a little obsession with something strange. Not hot wheels or legos. He loves trash and trash cans. Mainly trash cans. He just can't get enough of them. We have a full collection of different sized ones, varied colors etc. He loves playing with them upstairs in his playroom. I don't give him trash bags, for fear of him putting them over his head or something, but he found a way to make his own. He took the netted bag out of his clothes hamped and pretended it was a trash bag and put it inside his trash can. He likes to throw his fake food in the trash cans and then pretend to take the trash out.
He actually does like helping with the real trash too. He helps us bag and carry the trash outside, plus you better not even consider putting a new bag in. That's William's job. I simply get a bag out, lay it on the empty can and he puts the new bag in. He'll throw a fit if you don't let him help out. And believe me, he can hear it. If you are fluffing open a new bag, he'll be there in 2 seconds, telling you that is his job! While I love the help with the chores, he has taken it to a completely different level.
When we go to the grocery store or Target, he has to stop on the trash can aisle to check out all the new trash cans. If we are driving through an alley, he is pointing all of them out. If there is a trash can on TV, he points it out. And what does he remember from Granny's house? That she keeps a small trash can under the sink and then big ones out in the garage.
What did we do at Disney World? We found (and touched) every single trash can we came across. And just for you non-disney folk, Disney does a great job with maintenance of their parks, so most trash cans are extremely clean and well kept by the custodial crew. Plus, there is a trash can almost every 30 feet. Walt wanted to make sure folks had access to throw their trash away and hence keep the park cleaner. Well William was in heaven with the abundance of trash cans. Some were themed, some were normal and of course, there was even PUSH, the talking animatronic trash can. We lucked out and found him the first day and he sang Happy Birthday to William. I don't think I have seen the kid happier- having a conversation with a trash can that talked back.
So everywhere we go, the trash can obsession continues. At the mall, if the trash is full, he points it out, runs over and promptly tells me "someone needs to take this trash out, it's full."
My poor dad is even under fire now. Everytime we visit their house, William immediately heads to the kitchen where they have a really nice high end stainless steel trash can with the slow shutting lid. If that trash can is even near full, William demands that his Papa take it out. So now my dad always takes the trash out prior to Will coming over, knowing he will get in trouble!
William loves Papa's expensive trash can, but given it is over $100, we won't be getting one anytime soon. We promised if he is good, maybe Santa Claus will bring the family one this year. And yes, William asked Santa for a hefty brand black trash can last year and got it. He strolls down the stairs Christmas morning and what is the first toy he goes to? Not the cool new McDonald's kitchen/drive through. Not the new games or trains. The trash can.
At Target, we have to stop on the way out each time, since they have 4 different trash cans- there is a green for bottles, one for electronics (red), one for regular trash and one for plastic bags. He loves it.
As many of you know, we even decided to play on his love for trash cans and I made him a trash can costume for Halloween this past year. He loved it and we got lots of comments on what a unique costume it was. He had a lot of fun in it, although it wasn't very practical for wearing long.
So when will this obsession end? Who can say. Since our trip to Disney, it has diminished a bit and he isn't as crazy about pointing out every single one, but we still have to go down the trash aisle at the store. I figure it is harmless and hey, if it means I get someone to help take out the trash, then I am a happy gal.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
After his Granny brought over his cousins for a visit..."Mommy, Granny's kids played with my toys." Um, no honey, those aren't Granny's kids, I am sure she doesn't want anymore at this point in her life.
"Mommy, I want Brynley to reach out and touch me."