The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:6

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Road Trip, Part 4

So, I promised my most wonderful friend, Heather, that I would blog today in an effort to actually finish the road trip entries sometime before our next road trip. Thanks for the little push, my friend :-)

My last entry had us landing in Pigeon Forge, TN after 2200 miles logged in the minivan, which is about 33 hours for those who like the stats. The kids were really exceptional in the car and I think I speak for all of us when I say the time together was a blessing. Once we arrived in Pigeon Forge we checked into our lodge which was perched precariously on a mountainside. The views of the lush Tennessee forests were breathtaking and the sound of the cicadas in the trees magical. The home itself was a little more run down than I would have liked, but the views and the arrival of family made up for it. Soon there were eighteen of us sharing the 8-bedroom home. Cousins quickly ran off to quiet corners to giggle and share highlights of the last year, while the adults breathed a contented sigh that vacation had come.

One of our first endeavors was to head over to MagiQuest to have a little fun and, boy, did we! What a fun and enjoyable time. Gustav and the older kids ran off to fight dragons, puzzle out riddles, and cast magic spells. Kurt and I acted as a team and had a blast. After the quests were completed we spent some time in the hall of mirrors getting ridiculously lost and loving it.

We finished the day off with some local TN BBQ and some more catching up with family. Happy tummies and happy hearts.

The following days brought plenty of adventure. We spent a day in the Smoky Mountain National Park. What a beautiful, lush place. The greenery, rivers, rolling fields, and old churches and homes were just beautiful. A wonderful time to appreciate the handiwork of God!

 Seeing as it was my 30-something-i-eth birthday, we stopped by a little riverside picnic area and enjoyed some sandwiches and cake (that was smuggled in by lots of adorable little girls!) I loved the way the bright sunshine streamed through the thick leafy canopy. It was breathtaking.

 After filling our tummies (again) we continued on through the park and found a delicious little swimming hole tucked into the forest. What a time watching all of the children swim with abandon, jump off rocks, and just be kids. Like the good old days. Gabriel's expression here says it all:
 The water was chilly, but no one seemed to care. Kurt had a blast crawling from rock to rock.

 And Gretchen learned to walk on water.

 It was really one of the most delightful days I can remember having as a family. Relaxing times in the beauty of God's lovely creation. So thankful.
 Later in the week we experienced what was probably the highlight of the family reunion for many: a zipline course through the breathtaking Tennessee forest. Most of the cousins (all except Kurt, who, sadly, was too young) suited up and set off on a 2-hour zipline tour at Foxfire Mountain. Kids and grown-ups alike had a fantastic time riding the different lines through the course, including a 1500-foot zipline!

 One of our final adventures that week was to hit the "upside-down house," a.k.a. Wonder Works. This was a brain-frying experience for those over 21. The lights, the sounds, the sheer number of people squealing, running, and crying. But, the kids, again, had a great time. Rock-climbing, hurricane chambers, puzzles, roller-coaster simulators, laser-tag, games, and a real, live bed of nails to lay down on. What's not to love?

We finished our week-long family reunion and sadly said goodbye to those we love. But the Hoyers were very excited to head down to Birmingham, AL to see their most wonderful friends, the Henriques Family!! And I'll tell you all about that, and our trip back to Cali next time :-)


Heather said...

Love, love the pictures! And am waiting for Part 5 ;)

:nudge nudge, wink wink!:

Kim said...

Sweet pics and wonderful vacation story, and yes! I, too, am looking forward to your next part!! nudge, wink! :) ;)

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