At the base of Chimney Tops after our hike

As stated in my previous post, we recently took a trip with extended family to the Gatlinburg area. There is so much to do there, I thought I’d report on what worked well for us, as well as what didn’t.

Good – my sis-in-law suggested that each family be responsible for 2 dinner-time meals since we had kitchens in the condos where we stayed. That provided a nice meal-prep break for each of us for most of the week.

Bad – driving on the Pigeon Forge strip on a Sunday. Lots of traffic.

Good – riding go-carts before noon. You get a 2-for-1 deal. The big kids and Marathon did this on a weekday.

Good – Wonderworks, the goofy, upside down looking building in Pigeon Forge. Marathon, Carman, & Sudoku spent hours there and would have stayed longer if time had permitted. It was like a really well-done discovery museum. Simulated earthquake, mind resting game, a design-your-own-roller-coaster-and-ride-it chair, lazer tag, etc. For the money spent, they felt like they got a great deal. Again, they did this on a weekday.

Bad – taking a family bicycle ride through Gatlinburg on a holiday weekend. Crowds and cars forced us to walk our bikes. “Riding bikes around. That’s a good idea,” I heard one woman say. Her husband shot her a questioning look. We were pushing our bikes at the time. Our goal was not to ride through Gatlinburg. We just wanted to find a place to park (not easy) and cycle out of town to bike on the the 5-mile, 1 way nature trail. We made it through town, but the hills in getting to the trail proved to be too much for Sudoku and I. So we all headed back to the van. So much effort for nothing. Well, not nothing. We learned. And now you can know too!

Good – a 2-mile hike to the Chimney Tops. We took it slow and easy so that we could accommodate the 4-year olds. It was a strenuous hike, but they made it all the way. In the photo above, we’re at the base of Chimney Tops after our hike.

Good & Bad – riding bicycles downhill from Clingman’s Dome. Marathon and Carman did this. They tell me it was great, exhilarating, but also nerve-racking when cars got impatient with them and tried to pass them on a curve. I’m glad I didn’t see that. Carman’s favorite moment was when he started gaining on some Sunday-driving motorcycles. The biker last in line noticed Carmen’s bicycle gaining on him, looked shocked, and gave his motor the gas.

Good – Ober-Gatlinburg. This was a great outing for the 4-year olds. My brother’s family and my parents took Doodle along with them. He had a wonderful day. Most rides there are free for children under 6. (Or maybe it was 6 and under?)

Good – playing games in the evenings and on rainy afternoons.

Good – taking it easy at the condo.

Good and Bad – our bike ride through Cades Cove. The ride is nice, but the weekend traffic was really bad. When we do it again, we’ll go on a Wednesday or Saturday morning when the road is closed to motor vehicles before 10am.