Smoky Mountains Family Vacation

Day 1: Traveling

KC, MO to Smoky Mountains at Pigeon Forge, TN

So…the drive down was L.O.N.G.ggggggggggggggggg, and Evan is NOT 3 anymore.  

If you’ve been around awhile, you will remember our 4,000 mile Yellowstone and more road trip.  …the one where Evan was in the way way back of our over-stuffed Explorer when he said:

“How many more minutes?”

And I replied, “About 7 hours.”

And he said, with all the cheer and goodwill of his sweet, precious, happy, contented, enthusiastic heart, “OKAY!”

(I don’t think I ever did finish that blog, but you can get a few days overview HERE!)

We had to drive 2 cars to fit the people and bags.  The smartest idea I had was a last minute grab just before we headed out.  I sent Dillon in to grab their walkie-talkies...Jurassic World, no less.  Those walkies were great for communicating between cars...especially during the no service zones!

Well, Evan is now 8, and he is changing, my friends.  He has been working on a little bad habit I (very inappropriately) like to call “sass-itude.”  This habit, unfortunately, includes a little more common childhood syndrome similar to “Are we there yet?,” and I will admit there were times when his responsive groans were nearly unbearable.

These tribulations were confounded by the unfortunate failings of our dear friend, Google Maps, who could not find it within herself to explain to us whether the “drive time remaining” was based on actual time or whether it made the shift to include our brief entry into Eastern Daylight Time.  I never did figure out if we drove 11 hours or 12 hours, because…math is hard for some of us!!  (In fact, I actually heard myself shout at Dillon, while on a certain precarious hike, “The next time you open your mouth, if you are going to speak math….JUST DON’T SPEAK!!!  You are killing my brain!” Or something along those lines.)

Whew!  Momming is so hard!

There is ALWAYS a rainbow.  Sometimes you just have to look really hard (and/or change your perspective) to find it.

Fortunately, there are a few areas in which I excel.  So, on those random spurts through towns situated (otherwise) in the middle of nowhere, I managed to secretly download a few of his favorite episodes onto my phone.  (Unfortunately, my phone was plugged into the car for use of the amazing talents of GPS and we got to listen along full-blast to several episodes of The Mandolorian…choose your battles!). Therefore, throughout the remaining wifi outages, we appeased by minimal whining.  And if there is one thing I CAN NOT stand…

By and by, we managed to make it to our destination.  Given that we had 2 cars and a load of people, I was impressed by our relative success in getting there.  (We only stopped two times!!  Rejoice with me, my friends, as if I had found my lost coin!)

Granted, we were getting pretty antsy when we hit Pigeon Forge and all hopes of a triumphant were lost upon entry.  (Missouri friends, think Branson on on an intensely illegal drug.). I have to admit, I silently cringed every time we had to pass through; but as you will see, I did manage to swallow my disdain toward the whole exorbitant scene and even managed to (minimally) participate for the sake of others.  (Here, I make a long, extended bow as I wait for your long-lingering applause to fade.  “I know.  I know.  I’m practically a saint!”)

...and speaking of saints...always a pleasure to find the arch on our way through the Lou.

I, honestly, wish you had been in the car as we made our way to our Sherwood Estates cabin as the light was beginning to fade.  (There are so many times I have considered starting a Vlog.  It might convey the humor of our existence so much more effectively…if only I weren’t so endeared to my pajamas AND the written word.  …You had me at “vocabulary”!)

I wrote in my notes:

We arrived at the Sherwood Estates, a group of cabins nestled in “the hills” beyond the Forge.  The higher we climbed, the sweeter the view of the mountains - from the woodsy views near the main lodge to the increasingly breath-taking scope of the rapidly increasing heights.

Isn’t that beautiful?!!

It's funny...they almost look like they are smoking...😉

What we really experienced was a series of sharp and frightening turns on a narrow (double use, single lane) road (with precarious edge).  By this time, we were ALL getting desperate to just GET OUT OF THE CAR FOR GOOD!  I may or may not have exposed a few snippy, snarky, judgmental attitudes toward my husband’s competence.  (Don’t say you never did it!!)  He may or may not have responded to my nagging accusations with increased anxiety and frustration.  (I decided, pridefully, then and there to NEVER drive on these roads.) And we DEFINITELY back-tracked and turned around A LOT.  

But…we finally made it to the cabin.  We dropped off our luggage and our kids, with firm warnings about pool safety, and made our way to the preordained grocery store with a well-planned list (if I do say so, myself).

We brought home pizza, which they inhaled with vehemence you can only understand by the experience of repeatedly trying to feed such a crowd, and most of the supplies we would need to maintain their appetites for the coming week.

Then, and only then, my friends…were WE (the adults, the Mama and the Papa) allowed to finally relax and enjoy the view!

It did not disappoint. 💕


***This was my first VRBO, and the entire reason we chose the Smoky Mountains.  I decided upfront that my goal was for a PRIVATE, relaxing vacation.  I ditched my typical trend toward financial minimalism and went for mildly extravagant with our lodging (so…we stayed less days, but…worth it!  We also saved money on food, since we had a full kitchen and only ate out once the entire trip.). I put my priorities on: 1) A PRIVATE pool (the hot tub was an extra bonus I didn’t think we would be able to use during this hot summer…but - you will see - we lucked out.  2) A full kitchen 3) A completely private room and bathroom with LOCKING doors for me (and occasionally Matt…jk!  He had full access, as well!).  4) Enough beds and a separate bathroom for the Rugrats (serfs…peons…oh, you know what I really mean in my heart of hearts).  

The cabin did NOT disappoint.  It was everything I asked.  My only concern developed when I realized the very personal and friendly emails I received from our “host” sometimes came in exact repeated form from 2 different emails.  And no one ever responded to any of my replies.  So…I’m guessing “Nicholas” and “Travis” were not the locals I’d hoped to support.  At least, we didn’t have any big problems that needed a quick fix.  I can’t speak as to whether or not any potential calamity would have been rectified.  We will count it all as blessing.

Continue to stay tuned, my friends.  I will remain fixed on the assignment of crafting out the details of our family vacation, to bring you along, as best I can.

Peace and good night!