Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Family Vacation: Dollywood in TN and Mountains in NC

We just got home from a family vacation where we went to Dollywood, "the Great Smoky Mountain's family fun vacation adventure with great shows, thrilling roller coasters, festivals, and kiddie rides" located  in Pigeon Forge, TN and then to the NC mountains to camp in our tent for one night before heading back home.

We met my brother-in-law and our sister-in-law and their two girls at the hotel down the street from Dollywood.  The hotel had a great deal where we could buy one day at Dollywood and get the second day for free!  We went to the park each day at 9:30 AM and stayed until around 1:00 PM, then we went to our hotel to rest a few hours then we went back from 4:00-7:00 PM, when the park closed.

Since we went during the week the crowds weren't too bad and breaking up our time at the park made it alot more relaxing and manageable with young children.  It was hot, but the park gives out free cups of  ice water at any refreshment stand so we stayed hydrated and cool with plenty of water.   Here are some highlights from our trip.  (WARNING: lots of photos coming at you :) )

Barnstormer was a new ride for 2011 and it was like a big pendulum swinging back and forth. I knew better not to step foot on the ride since I can get sick swinging on a backyard swing! My hubby, son, my husband's twin brother, and niece went on it, but their stomachs were queasy when it was over.

My husband is in the middle in the white shirt holding on to our son.  It went really high and they said it felt like they were falling straight down! Yikes!

The Country Fair area of the park was a big hit with everyone.  Fun kiddie rides were enjoyed by all!

Thunderhead was a big wooden roller coaster that was a very bumpy ride, fast and went way up and went down fast!  I rode this twice and had a headache from being tossed around so much, but I survived!

Here's a shot of the coaster curving around.  It was amazing the wood could withstand so much weight and power! Oh my!

OK, this is the most ridiculous picture of me (bottom left corner next to my daughter in the pink shirt) screaming and closing my eyes as we rode the Thunderhead, but I thought since my husband always laughs at it when he looks at it, maybe it will put a smile on your face too :) I survived this roller coaster and another one we rode by screaming and closing my eyes.  My husband asked why I close my eyes the whole time and I told him I did not want to know what was about to happen!  It's really not fun for me to see myself falling straight down on a coaster so I close my eyes in hopes I will see the end!  My husband is in the white t-shirt, my son is in the blue t-shirt with his eyes closed and screaming (I wonder where he gets that from?), my husband's twin brother is in the brown shirt in the back next to his daughter. I was crazy enough to ride this again the next day to keep my sister-in-law company because no one else would ride it with her.

Photo opportunity in the park.

This was a fun wet ride as the riders can shoot water from their rafts, but then at different areas on land there are water guns so anyone can shoot at the people on the rafts! This was a family favorite!

Adventure Mountain was also a family favorite.  We went on two different obstacle courses with harnesses attached to us and ropes.  We were at different heights throughout the course.  I'm not scared of heights, but I must say I was sweating quite a bit concentrating on not slipping while being so high in the air!

Here I am crossing a wooden steps and our 7 year old is crossing on a rope.

Here is a tower of one of 3 courses you can choose to do.  To the left of the tower you can see the ropes going across that we went across.  This photo shows just how high the courses were. The workers at this attraction were very impressed that our children did so well with the course.  They kept saying they were so brave for being so young. 

In the evening during the second day at Dollywood, it began to storm so we were not able to spend the last couple of hours in the park, so we all headed to the hotel's indoor pool and hot tub for a swim which is always a highlight for our children when we travel.

 When the storm passed, we went outside to enjoy the hotel's little water park and pool.  Our children had so much fun with their cousins  and my husband and I looked at each other and said we could have spent two days at the hotel pool and saved lots of money :)

On Friday, June 10, my daughter's 7th birthday, we decided to take in some of the beautiful scenery close by so we checked out of our hotel and headed into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We hiked the Clingmans Dome Trail  in NC, which is a 0.5 mile paved trail to the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The distance is short to get to the top, but the trail is very steep.  Lots of work to go up, but worth it! 

Here we are on the way up to the tower.

This is the lookout tower at the top.  Breathtaking views and cool breezy air were our rewards for the steep climb!
Here's a shot of the tower as we climbed back down.

The sign says Clingmans Dome Trail.

After we went to the Smoky Mountains we visited my husband's Aunt and Uncle near Asheville and then went to Marion, NC to my in-laws camp site.  We celebrated our daughter's 7th birthday at the camp site by opening gifts and making S'mores by our campfire.

This is our 8 person tent that sleeps all of us comfortably with standing room and room enough for two queen size air mattresses and a sleeping bag.

It's always a blessing to see nature while camping.  Here is a hummingbird at my in-laws feeder.

The kids love to play at the creek and walk around.

My son found crayfish in the creek and my father-in-law boiled them and they ate them.  My son said there wasn't alot of meat in them. Yum! :)
He found lots of big and small salamanders with his big sister. 

He also found these little critters in the creek water.  Needless to say, he was in heaven and loved exploring with his sisters.

If you get to this point in this post, I thank you for taking the time to read some of the highlights from our vacation.  It was a blessed and fun week to spend with family!

A year ago this month, I began blogging and this week for my blogiversary I will be hosting a giveaway so check back soon for the giveaway details! 

Join No Ordinary Blog Hop (NOBH) by clicking on button below!  Hope to see you there!


How fun to go to Dolly world. I have alwayed wanted to go there. My husband's family lives in Nashville and Knoxville so we aren't that far away. Love the photo of you on the roller coaster:) S'mores are my favorite camping food. So glad you family was able to get away for some fun time:)

Looks like you guys had a fun trip! We have never been to Dollywood and I always wondered if it was fun. Welcome back!

Mom2Seven said...

Oh, what fun! I loved the picture of you on the roller coaster! We are giving my husband a beautiful fire pit for our back patio area on Father's Day, and the kids are more excited that we will be having s'mores than they are about surprising their dad!

I cannot believe it has been a year! I remember, because I believe I sent you a picture of Marin's birthday cake! Where does the time go!??

God bless!

Melissa N. said...

What an amazing blessed vacation! I loved the family shots and the one on the Roller Coaster ROCKS! We LOVE to camp and can't wait to go back to Jellystone in August for the Luau! Glad you are back and enjoy your day!


Kara Chupp said...

This photos are so so SO fun!!! Our kiddos would absolutely love this!
But--honestly--the opportunity to catch salamanders would've probably topped it all for our boys. LOVE that you camped with your many families have given up camping and it's such a great way to create memories together. Glad you're back! :)

noreen said...

Hi Tracy, what a great vacation for the entire family! You're a brave mama for riding the roller coasters!! I think vacationing with family is so important and for your children to spend time with their cousins is a blessing for them all!

HI Anna-Marie,
I hope with all your travels, you'll be able to visit family in TN and Dollywood! Thanks for stopping in! :)

HI Christine,
It is a fun park and we hope to go back one day to do the rides we didn't get to do and go to Splash Country, a water park next to DW :)

HI Annita!
OH a fire pit sounds like an awesome gift that will be enjoyed by many for a long time! What a special Father's Day for your family :) Yes, I remember you sending pics of Marin's cake a year ago! Time sure does go by so quickly! It's always great to hear from you as I have been blessed to have you as one of my first followers for my blog! Have a blessed weekend!

HI Mel,
I've heard so much about Jellystone from friends. I hope to go there one day! Roller coaster photos make you humble don't they??? :)

HI Kara,
I know, playing in the creek was where my kids liked to go when we went to our campsite. I'm glad my children will have camping memories since I never camped with my family while growing up :( My Dad was always working hard to support my family so it was hard to get away for vacation time and my parents aren't the "camping" type. But, I'm glad to start the tradition with my crew and I realize it's a blessing to make memories this way.

HI Norieen,
We had a great time and my children always love playing with their cousins since they live out of town from us! Thanks for stopping in! :)

Anonymous said...

How fun!!! We were just in Gatlinburg to visit the Aquarium. The kids saw the signs for Dollywood, but we opted out of that because we are going to the Amusement Park near our home (Cedar Point). We will have to think about doing that next time we are in Tennessee.

So glad your adventures were so blessed!

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