We took a family camping vacation last week to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Our campsite was actually on the Cherokee Indian Reservation just a little below the Smokies at Mile High Campground. In June we'd scouted out the area and found site 10 A&B to be exactly what we wanted - at the edge of the grounds where the boys could explore without being in other people's campsites, they could be loud and not disturb anyone, and had all the terrain pluses needed when you're tenting. Perfect spot. We packed and pulled out Monday morning around 9:30. Here are the boys already immersed in the books we'd picked up from the library. They also enjoyed HOURS of listening to "The Hobbit"! It helps the time go so much quicker. Stephen wasn't too impressed with the story except there was a dragon in it!
The drive was lovely and the boys enjoyed going through the tunnels.
Elk have been introduced to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and driving up to our campsite we saw our first one resting in the shade behind a primitive cabin. Later that afternoon, Philip took the boys to the restroom and I was at the site by myself when two very large elk walked right past our tent. Two days later the boys were able to see some and my mother-in-law got some pictures of them.
We had a great setup with the "dinner" tent set up very close our sleeping tent and the fire pit nearby. The only drawback was having the restrooms so far away but that's not much a problem when you have boys!
Daddy playing ball with the boys. Because we were over 5,000 ft. the weather was perfect! Mid-to upper 70's in the day and high 60's at night - Perfect!
Monday night there was quite a windstorm that blew through but our tent was anchored well and it sounded like ocean waves coming up from the valley and rushing along the ridge and down the other side.
Tuesday we did some exploring! We took a picnic lunch to Balsam Mountain and then after eating took a one way, gravel road through the mountains into Cherokee, NC. It's about 28 miles but it took over two hours to travel. The windstorm the night before had blown over a tree across the road. Unfortunately, Philip didn't have an axe with him but he did have a log splitter and was able to cut through enough that we could get by. It was a lot of work! When Philip was done the boys burst into applause saying, "Daddy's a hero!"
The views from the Campground are INCREDIBLE! In the mornings the mist would lay in the valleys and you almost felt like you were in another world, way above the clouds. The sunsets were also fantastic.
On Tuesday my in-laws came to join us. Their pop-up was in the site next to ours. The whole week no one else set up in the other two sites next to us - which was VERY nice! The boys had the whole area to themselves. While they were there - Philip and Pop-pop spent time reading Hebrew together while the boys played -
Found all kinds of interesting things to look at (red and green mushrooms, shelf fungus, and butterflies, Indian paintbrush and other flowers). Gramme was a good source to help analyze what we were seeing.
Wednesday morning Philip and I travelled to Bryson City, NC to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It was fun to reminisce about the past 10 years - though it doesn't seem that long, a lot has happened in our lives! The main activity we had planned was riding on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad. Philip had reservations for first class which included a meal. It was a lovely, relaxing time! We saw lots of beautiful country and the history was very fascinating. Before boarding the train, we toured the museum that had a really neat train display that my boys would have loved!
After sitting all day we both needed some exercise so we hiked to two waterfalls that were very close to each other.
On the way back to our motel we saw this sign and had to take a picture! "Southern Hospitality?"
This post is already too long and there are too many pictures to put up! Philip and I came back to the campsite on Friday and learned that it had been raining since Thursday evening (necessitating a trip to the laundry mat to dry out pillows and sleeping bags) and it stay very misty wet the rest of our stay. Here are some pictures of the boys playing and general camp life pictures. It was a great time! and it's been hard to come back to hot, city living :o) So thankful for family times filled with good memories (some of which I dare not share here under threat of my life!).