If you have to pick between the beach or the mountains, which would you pick? Me???
I have always loved mountains. I’m not a huge beach person because I really don’t like sand everywhere, but it’s not like when I see the mountains, I go hike…so generally I like looking at the mountains…but then I think that it’s only fair that I say that I enjoy gazing into the ocean also….. WOW…
…but I digress…
So ALL the Wineingers went on a family vacation to Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee over Spring Break & we had a BLAST (P.S. It’s weird now that we have a kid in school… we are strapped to particular times to vacation for the next 18 YEARS!). It was semi exhausting, because any vacation with 3 kiddos 5 and under would be, but there were GOOD memories made and THAT was the goal!
Before I get started, it’s important to note that leaving Peoria proved to be difficult, because we got our BIGGEST snowfall of the winter (or should I say spring because it was AFTER the first day of Spring *eye roll*) of 14 inches. Everyone was out plowing/salting for 24+ hours the night before we needed to leave. Pam, my MIL, took my two older girls so that Jo & I could go home and finish packing. When she tried to bring them back that night, they couldn’t get out of the driveway. They had a sleepover at Nana’s and were LOVING it! Nate came home, slept for 3 hrs, then we loaded the car and went to get the girls to start the 12 hr drive….got stuck in Pam’s drive ALSO, then used a truck to pull BOTH of our vans out of snow so we could leave. Our 8:30a leave time turned into 11:30a. Nate’s brothers were still out plowing when we left and didn’t end up leaving until 5:30p. Moral of the story: Even when Wineingers plan according to our seasons, Mother nature still finds a way to bite us in the a**.
…but I re-digress….
So here is the highlight reel:
Our cabin was AMAZING! It was called Mountain Estates (here’s the link) tucked in the mountains in Sevierville. It was a 5bd/5.5ba cabin PLUS a second smaller cabin with 1bd/1ba & home theater! It slept 16-19 people and there was 13 of us so we had PLENTY of space. Here’s some pictures…
The main cabin on the left with the 5 bedrooms & on the right the fam KINDLY let the 5 of us have the little house. It worked out REALLY well. I was nervous about letting the girls run back and forth from one house to the other, but there was NEVER a time where I feared for their safety.
The main cabin living area. When we were at the cabin, this is where we spent most of our time. The door to the deck was always open because the weather was BEAUTIFUL!
This was the basement. It had a video game and a pool table. If you went out on the downstairs deck there was a Jacuzzi. We never got in it because we ran out of time, but if we were there a day longer, Karen & I would have FOR SURE been in there!
This is the inside of the TOP floor of the little house..aka OUR house. We made beds for the girls, but they always ended up asleep on the couches. The pack-n-play was behind the couch. It really was the perfect set-up. No one woke anyone else up. MIRACLE!
This was the basement of our little house! We watched “The Greatest Showman” down here. GREAT setup!
The girls played outside a TON & we made s’mores and bummed around the campfire one night. Again, the weather was AWESOME!
Everyone (except for my older 2 bundles of energy + in turn, me) slept in a little and we took our time getting ready. We kind of set it up where each Wineinger kid set the day’s agenda…Nate (and Ruthie & Tessa) got to pick what we were doing Day 1, Josh & Jake and Karen Day 2, and Ashley’s Fam Day 3. So, for the girls, we went to a Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo. I know it sounds weird, but we had a blast! HIGHLIGHTS: Feeding a Zebra, Tessa talking to the goats, & both LOVING the pony rides! LOW: Tessa got bit by a camel…not hard, but it was shocking.
Feeding the Zebra
Nathan with the BITING camel. (NOTE: We are not upset that Tess got bit…I mean we were at a feeding & petting zoo…It was VERY likely to happen. Generally, when feeding goats & horses and such, you keep your hand flat, but with camels you are to make a bowl with your hands & Tessa’s hands were a little too bowl-ed.)
Feeding the Belgain Horse…he was HUGE!
Grandpa Steve teaching Rue how to keep her hands flat to feed the Shetland ponies.
Tessa talking to the VERY uninterested goat.
Ruthie’s pony ride with Lil’ Joe.
Tessa’s pony ride with Buster.
Daddy & Jo watching from the sidelines.
Then it was a family style dinner at Paula Dean’s Family Kitchen, a Family Style Restaurant.
I highly recommend this restaurant. Everything was served family-style. Ruthie & Tessa had all the Mac & Cheese and green beans they wanted! SOO Good.
Then we headed back home for a rest-ful evening and watched “The Greatest Showman” before bed.
Josh & Jake (and Karen’s) Day. We started out at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works, 3-story knife store. Then they headed to the Big Shots gun store & shooting range while the girls & I found a Starbucks 🙂 For dinner, we went to the Hatfields & McCoy’s Dinner Feud. The girls LOVED it. And, of course, fried chicken 2 nights in a row…NO ONE was complaining! Delicious.
Then, we stopped at the Friendly Waterfall (Found it on Pinterest….a waterfall with no hiking involved.)
We ended the night around a bonfire eating s’mores & drinking shandies…peaceful!
HIGHLIGHT: The girls got to go up on stage and dance. LOW: Back home, we got a phone call that our cat was NOT doing well. (We put him down a few days after we got home.)
Ashley’s (and Cassidy and Daniel’s) Day! We went on Ober Gatlinburg, nicknamed by Ruthie & Tessa as the Air Bus. WORST tourist trap in Tennessee, but worth an experience. We crammed into a enclosed ski lift with about 50 other people and trammed up to the top of a mountain. On top, the girls were excited to see a mini carnival with some fun rides.
There were lots of other things, but for a PRETTY penny. Then we headed back to the cabin and we cooked a HUGE feast! We finished the night with a rousing card game called BANG! HIGHLIGHT: The family dinner was AWESOME & delicious! LOW: Although Ober Gatlinburg was fun for the girls, it was like a vacation from the ’80s and the signs & tickets for rides cheated us out of about $20. Bummer.
We woke up the next morning, piled into the car and started the trek home. All in all, GREAT trip, but I definitely needed a vacation from vacation when I got home. And for this introvert, I am still in desperate need of alone time and it’s two weeks after the trip.
Have you ever been to Gatlinburg? Highlights? Comment if you want anymore info from this trip!