Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hoosier Family Vacation Day 1 & 2 - Smoky Mountains National Park

Last week we went to the Smoky Mountains for our yearly Hoosier Family summer vacation.

This was my first time to go Tennessee & even though I love to visit new places, Tennessee has never been on my bucket list & so honestly I was kind of indifferent about going & had no clue what we were going to do while there. I mean, if you're not camping, how much is there really to do at a national park? Well it turns out, A LOT!

So here's what we did while on our family trip...

We started it with a long drive from Houston to Pigeon Forge. Long as in 16 hours LONG! 

So... We broke the trip up into 2 days and made a few stops along the way.

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa!

If you know Nick then you probably know he's originally from Alabama & has been a HUGE Crimson Tide fan since basically birth!
So much so that Alex is even named after the legendary Bear Bryant!
(Which if you know Nick, you probably know this too!)

After a long 2 days of driving, we finally made it to our cabin in Pigeon Forge on Sunday evening

just in time to watch the sunset 

over the mountains

and relax in the hot tub!

The next day, Monday, we went to Smoky Mountains National Park. Our first stop was the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Or... maybe it was the Sugarland Visitor Center.
(Get it. Sugarland. Because we live right next to Sugar Land, TX. Haha.)

The visitor center had a great exhibit of animals that are native to the Smoky Mountains. As you can imagine, Addy was in heaven!

Then we hiked the Fighting Creek Nature Trail & to Cataract Falls.

Which was ... <--- that way!

It was a fun little trail (a little over 1 mile) with lots of rocks 

and downed trees.

The trail followed along the Little River for a bit

and then took us uphill

 and around to the John Ownby cabin which was built in 1860 & is one of the last surviving structures from the community that was in this area before it became a national park.

And then it looped back around to the paved pathway to Cataract Falls.

We were hoping to see a lot of wildlife on the trail but all we saw were a few birds and a salamander that Jared caught.

We did see lots of interesting flora though, including mushrooms


and of course trees.

And even a sassafras tree that smelled like root beer!

Here are a few more pictures from our afternoon in Sugarlands...

After our hike, we headed back to our cabin & closed out the day with food, family, puzzles & games, more hot tubbing and seeing for ourselves why they call them the SMOKY mountains!

Click here to read what we did the next day.