Vacation – Smoky Mountains

I just returned from one of the longest vacations I have really ever taken. My family and I started by making our way through Missouri via Saint Louis then we crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky and finally ended up in Tennessee. Our final destination was Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

File Jun 27, 1 08 08 PM

We rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains for five nights. We had never been to the Smoky Mountains only to the Rocky Mountains.

Our cabin was in a beautiful setting up some very steep roads. Once we were all settled in our cabin we went in search of supper in Gatlinburg. After supper we stopped at one of many moonshine establishments. Our son, Harley, who is 16 was on this trip with us. He was not real impressed with the moonshine stops. He was always concerned if Tim and I would be able to drive. We were more than capable to drive. At one point Harley said that he wanted to go back to Iowa where there is no moonshine. He was NOT fond of the smell.

While on this trip we took in a dinner show, Hatfield and McCoys. By the luck of the draw we ended up being seated right next to the stage. We were served chicken, BBQ pork, mash potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw, a bun, drink and pudding for dessert. The show was AWESOME. Harley really enjoyed it and asked if we go do another show.

Tim and I didn’t want Harley to be bored on the trip so we made sure that we did things he would be interested in. We rode go-carts. Tim and I rode in one cart and Harley in his own. I was scared shitless, pinching Tim’s leg the whole time. Later on during our trip Harley and Tim went again minus me. I was in charge of taking pictures. While the boys were in line and I was waiting to take pictures I watched all these grandmas on the go-carts having a blast. I guess I am just not one for that kind of adventure.

While in the Smokies we did some hiking. We hiked to Clingman’s Dome. Tim was really hoping to be able to see for miles at the dome but it was very foggy and misty that morning. We did do the hike, which was very steep. By the time we were coming back down to the car it was beginning to clear off. From there we went into North Carolina and hiked to Deep Creek Falls.

File Jun 27, 1 04 53 PMOur last hike while in the Smokies was to Abram Falls. We started the day by traveling to Cade’s Cove and driving the loop. We really didn’t know that we would hike to Abram Falls. When we read the sign to Abram Falls and saw that it was 2.5 miles one way and would take 3-4 hours, we thought there was no way that it would take that long. After getting on the trail we understood why it would take so long. The trail was nice but had a lot of tree roots to walk over. I remember while on the trail I started singing, “She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes….”. The hike was totally worth it. The falls were amazing and breathtaking. This is not something that you see in Iowa. Another amazing sighting happened while going back to our car. Our son, Harley was walking ahead of us and suddenly said there was a bear on the side. We waited and sure enough a mother bear walked out on the trail less than 50 yards from us. We stopped, took a lot of pictures and then her two cubs walked out on the trail. This made the trip for all three of us. File Jun 27, 1 05 48 PM

Before we packed up from the cabin we had to try out Hillbilly Golf in the mountains. Again this is not something that can be done in Iowa, golfing on the side of a mountain.


After leaving Gatlinburg we headed for Nashville for three nights. We ended up staying in Springfield. On our way to Springfield we stopped at the Carnton Plantation and learned about The Battle of Franklin.  The plantation was in the middle of the battle and ended up being a hospital. It was a great history lesson for all of us. I wish we would have had more time to visit the other houses near there. I guess that will have to be saved for another time.

While we were so close to Mammoth Cave my husband had to go on a cave tour. We decided to take the 2:30 Violet City Lantern tour. This was a three hour tour done with only lanterns. On this tour I remember thinking of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs saying to myself, “Hi ho Hi ho…” I found this tour to be a very reflective time for me and my life right now.

As a teacher for nine months out of the year my husband finds me very stressed and grouchy. For those nine months I spend more time with my school family than with my own family. Everyone who works in any profession finds themselves in the same situation. Being a teacher though it’s hard to leave work at work and not bring it home. You might bring grading home, lesson planning or just worries and thoughts about a student(s). We can’t just call in sick like normal people we have to have plans ready for the sub so that our classrooms run as close to normal as possible. I have racked my brain on how I can remedy this and the only thing that comes to mind is that I try to leave work at work when I walk out the doors and to spend as much time as I can with my family on the weekends.

File Jun 27, 1 09 04 PMI know that this past year I have spent even less time with my parents. We live two hours away from my parents and before Harley was in high school we went home often on weekends. This summer Harley got a job so it makes it even more difficult to get home to see my parents and that has been really hard on me.

Anyway back to my vacation. I really found this vacation to be a reflective time for me. I don’t know why. Maybe because my son is so close to graduating and being out of the house. It has really made me see that we need to make sure to do something on the weekends as a family.

On our way to Mammoth Cave we did have time to stop and tour the Corvette plant. We did not tell my son about this and he was very happy with this stop as he has always said since we got him that he wants a corvette. We all found this tour to be very fun and interesting. I know from my point of view I enjoyed it as a teacher. I had never been in a plant/factory before and found it very informative.

Our final day on vacation was spent in downtown Nashville touring The Music Hall of Fame and seeing the Johnny Cash Museum. This again made me think of my family especially my Grandpa Langel and Dad. They both would have really enjoyed these tours. Our last stop was The Grand Ole Opry where we watched a show. This made my day watching my son sing along to the songs and bopp his head to the tunes.

This vacation was long and we were on the go the whole time. I remember at one point during our time out I said to my husband and son that I want to go on vacation and just sit and enjoy the scenery around me while reading a book on at least one vacation in my lifetime.

One last thing before I sign off. Tim and I find that we are pretty old fashioned about some things. One thing we noticed a lot were families not talking to each other. Instead they were all on their phones. We made sure to talk to each other during this trip and even left our phones in the car at times. We also were not on our phones during meals instead we were talking about life and were living the moment.

Everyone needs to live the moment and take time for themselves and their families. Did I mention that while in the cabin we had no internet. We could have used our phones and did to research places to go but a that was all. We stayed off Twitter, Facebook….. It was hard at first but really it was nice to just be back in that time before social media took over.

If you read all of this thanks for staying with me.

-Sarah

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About martinsarah

7th grade math teacher in Iowa

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