Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Break Part 2

If you missed Part 1 you can go read it here.  Otherwise let's get on with what else we did on our Tennessee adventure.

The kids really wanted to visit Ripley Aquarium in Gatlinburg.   If you haven't been there I would highly recommend it.  I would also highly recommend you print or find coupons before you go.  This is NOT a cheap place to visit.  But it is really neat!  They have a glass tunnel that you walk through (or ride the moving sidewalk) and at times its hard to see the glass and it looks like the sharks are just swimming overhead.  VERY cool!!

Mr. D also got to hold a horseshoe crab.  He was very excited to see it up close and personal.  I touched it and the other 2 didn't want anything to do with it.  It was a very odd creature. But kind of neat at the same time. 

This picture and the next one sum up how Miss V felt about the aquarium.  Like I said in the previous blog she wasn't feeling well the whole trip and I have a feeling at this point her fever was coming back and she was pretty much over the crowd of people and being there.  So these are how she felt! 

"I'm going to stand there but I'm NOT happy about it!" - from the mind of Miss V.

We got to see so many cool sea creatures here but one of my favorites was this sea turtle.  I don't think this picture does him justice of how big he is! He was huge and so majestic!  He just glides through the water. Mr. J and I had the pleasure of snorkeling with one in Mexico on our honeymoon so it was neat to see one again in person. 

The next day we decided the weather was going to be perfect for hiking. Before we left home I had looked up a few different hikes and talked to a few different people and the hike to Laurel Falls seemed to be the perfect beginners trail for the kids.  Although this hike was 1.25 miles to the falls and obviously 1.25 miles back out it was paved and fairly flat the whole way up.  This was a great easy trail.  Lots of places to stop and look over the edge.  The signs that say "Caution people have died here" didn't put Mr. J at ease or the sheer drop off on the side but I wasn't too worried.  We warned the kids about getting close to the edge and asked them to stay on the inside.  We did see people with strollers going up this trail.  I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone! Here is a GREAT website for hiking in the smokeys and about the falls.

The falls! It was even more beautiful in person!

My girly and I at the falls! Even though she didn't feel great she was a trooper and hiked all the way up!! 

You crossed this bridge to see the falls.  But this little pool also had a waterfall coming off of it! So beautiful!

This pictures makes me happy in a way I can't explain. When Mr. J & I met I was the ultimate girly girl.  The thought of hiking or not wearing makeup and heels was just outrageous. And now (almost) 12 years later? I run long distance for fun! In these pictures I hadn't done my hair and have my absolute bare minimum make up on (mascara only). I was EXCITED to hike and I wanted to do more! I looked at some trails that were labeled "Technical" and I wanted to do them! I'm so thankful that Mr. J has loved me through the process of becoming the person that I am.  And maybe pushing & challenging me a little along the way. I still absolutely LOVE heels and make up and dressing up.  But there is a completely different love and feeling of freedom for things like this. I can't wait to hike again! 

Thank you to the lady that took this picture for us!  Come to find out she was from our hometown! It is a very small world!  Travel 9 hours from home to find someone doing the same!

After our hike to the falls it was lunch time.  We stopped at the local rangers station (which I would HIGHLY recommend!)  to ask where a great spot to eat was and he pointed us in the direction of Chimney picnic area. The actual picnic area itself was nothing too special.  Nice picnic tables and places to park but what made this THE place to stop was the river that ran beside it.  It was beautiful but what was even better was that you could jump around and play on the giant rocks! The rocks were big enough and close enough together that even the kids could get out there with us and explore!

The loves of my life!

We are on a rock nearly in the middle of the river with a waterfall behind us!  How's THAT for romance?

As you can imagine we took a TON of pictures.  But this one is one of my favorites.  It shows me just how far I have come. I only got nervous and anxious one time when Mr. D was jumping to a rather far away rock (thank goodness he made it!).  But I jumped rocks, I climbed around and looked at the water.  If you would have told me I would do this a few years ago I would have laughed at you!  My anxiety would have never let me get anywhere CLOSE to the edge of the river let alone go jumping around on the rocks. I still deal with anxiety don't get me wrong. But for some reason God has answered my prayers and taken so much of it away. I sat on this rock, scooted as far forward as I could, and took a picture. Those are rapids going down to a waterfall.  And you know what?  I wasn't scared!  I wasn't anxious!  I wanted to stay there all day and play! Another picture that makes me so happy and proud of myself. 

On our way to Clingmans dome we passed in North Carolina.  You sort of snake back and forth across the boarder several times.  But this little look out and pull off had this awesome sign! That means that on our spring break we went through 5 states! I'm pretty excited about that!

And to finish up the day we went to Clingmans Dome. We were told it was a half mile paved trail up to the dome and that the views would be amazing! Well they didn't lie AT ALL!  The views were to die for!  What they didn't say was that the half mile paved trail was basically UP the whole time. And poor Miss V was NOT feeling well so I'll give you 1 guess who got to carry 40 extra pounds up and down? It's ok though!  It was worth the sweat and stopping every .10 of a mile to sit down to rest.  The views were AMAZING!  I could make an entire separate post on the views and pictures we took up there.  The dome was just awesome!  Another place I would highly recommend!  As we went down the trail there was one couple who were walking slowly and looking like it was a trek for them.  They asked me if it was worth it.  I said YES!!!  I said it's a hike but use the benches to rest and get up there!  You will NOT regret it!

Even though Miss V's smile is fake the rest of us are SUPER happy to be up here. I'm so thankful for this vacation and the time together as a family.  God is growing our family together to be closer and stronger. This vacation is one that we will all look back on and treasure.  Something tells me this isn't our last trip to Tennessee!  I have a feeling we will go back many times.  I'd love to go down with just Mr. J and do lots of hiking but we will see!  Right now I'm just savoring the way our family is and how blessed I feel to have spent this time with them. 

Love, Lacey