when we decided to settle, it was our hope that we would still be able to travel a bit. so, after two months in the house, we packed up the rv to take a long weekend adventure just down the road, at great smoky mountain national park.
it was very different getting ready for this trip, compared to living on the road. the camper has been uninhabited for two solid months. so, there was some cleaning and prepping that had to take place. and packing. and stocking food and supplies. but, we needed waaaay less stuff, so it wasn’t a mad game of tetris to get all of our supplies situated just so.
one other difference in our less frequent adventuring, is that we can treat the whole thing as a bit of a vacation. when our whole life was on the road, we had to be careful not to always live in vacation mode. but, for this trip, we planned a stop to eat in asheville, at juicy lucy’s burger bar. no regrets.
when we arrived at the park, we dropped off the camper in the campground and made our way to clingman’s dome, to try to squeeze in a quick hike and take in some amazing scenery while it was still daylight.
the hike from the parking lot to the top of clingman’s dome is short and steep and, as it turns out, on this day, rainy. and then foggy. but we made it to the top, where a spiral-y overlook tower awaits, giving an even better 360° view of our surroundings. (side note: this tower was built at the same time as the shark valley overlook in the everglades.)
on the way back down, the weather cleared up a bit, so we stopped to take in some pretty scenery and flowers and bees and such.
back at camp, we settled in, made dinner, met neighbors, and the kiddos spent most of the evening in the creek next to our campground. the next morning, we made our way across the park from the nc side to the tennessee side, stopping at the state line for a quick view of the “smokiness” of the mountains…
at the visitor center, we popped into a junior ranger program about elk, so the lidkids could check that requirement off of their junior ranger badge list. (also. we signed up for the class because it had a 25 person max. but when we arrived there were like 40-50 people, and several people floated in and out or talked during the whole thing. it was a little annoying. but i’m learning to be annoyed in national parks, regarding fellow tourists).
the drive through the park took about 45 minutes or so, and the visitor center stop was another hour-ish, so before we drove to our next adventure destination, we decided to get some lunch in gatlinburg, just outside the park and only minutes from the visitor center. i often hear folks from around us talking about going to gatlinburg and i’ve never been. i assumed it was a really cool place, but it’s nothing more than a tourist trap, filled with chain restaurants and novelty shopping. and traffic. we settled on the mellow mushroom, ensuring a satisfactory dining experience for all lidbom family members, except for me, when i was denied a beer after leaving my wallet in the car.
after our lunch in stupid gatlinburg, we drove back into the park and over to the “cade’s cove” loop, which is a bunch of historic homes and churches, abandoned when the government basically forced folks off their land to make it a national park. but at least they were offered payment. unlike the native cherokee people before them, who were relocated, basically at gunpoint. (see also: trail of tears).
basically, at this point, we had really grumpy kids. it had been raining for a lot of the day, so we either got out and ran around in the rain. or just drove past things that we didn’t think we worth getting wet for. on our way back to the campground, we passed by a popular waterfall overlook and happened to get a parking spot, so we decided to check it out a bit.
while we were trying to get a better waterfall view, we noticed some folks swimming in a waterhole just a little way down the creekstreamriver. we decided to check it out, and it turned out to be the best adventure of our day. the kids played forever, until the sun went behind a mountain and the air began to cool and we dragged them out of there.
once we were adequately dried off, we started back to camp, only to detour back to gatlinburg for a quick dinner, since we would be getting to our campsite so late. then, it was back to camp to recover, try to find more places to hang wet clothes, and gear up for a big hike and adventure the next day …
(i’ll devote a separate post to that and link to it here, but for now, i’ll just tell you that we hiked to alum caves as a fam, and then anna and i went on to the peak of mount le conte for our most epic hike to date).
then. there a lazy last night at camp. i had a few local beers. we ate taco bell that derek picked up whilst on my beer run. we played lots of board games, particularly one we picked up at a toy store in gatlinburg called fickle fish, which is hazel’s new favorite. and dragonwood. a lidkid all time fave.
in the morning, we packed up our soggy campsite and hit the road. we stopped at the visitor center to finish up some junior ranger activities and saw chickens on the historic farm next door. we miss our old chickens.
then. it was junior ranger swearing in time. it was one of those times where it was an incredibly slow and thorough process. so, now all three kiddos are gsmnp rangers. (anna had gotten hers on our first trip, but she had a different book this time, so she went for another).
and then. we were back home. and had to unpack all the things. and get back to house life. and being sad. and awaiting our next adventure.