Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mountain Vacation

So, we've been back from our little trip to the mountains for three weeks now.  Suppose I tell you about it?

We (Me, Aaron, my sister, Ellie, my brother-in-law, Heath, and my nieces, McKayla and Cadence) left on Tuesday evening, July 24, and arrived in Sylva, NC around 4 am the next morning.  We stayed in this lovely little house.

A few hours later, we made a trip to WalMart to stock our kitchen for the next few days, and then we were off to see Mingo Falls.

McKayla, Aaron, & Cadence taking a rest

Me & Aaron

Thursday we visited America's Longest Swinging Bridge at Foxfire Mountain.  This swinging bridge connects Foxfire Mountain and Prosperity Mountain, and leads to the trail to Lost Mine Falls over which is another swinging bridge, Cliffhanger Swinging Bridge.

Heath, with his watchful eye on the kiddos
about to cross America's Longest Swinging Bridge
McKayla, Aaron, & Cadence

McKayla, Cadence, & Aaron on Prosperity Mountain

McKayla & Aaron goofing off on a footbridge

A small cascade from the trail to Lost Mine Falls

Lost Mine Falls with the Cliffhanger Swinging Bridge

McKayla on Cliffhanger Swinging Bridge at Lost Mine Falls

Aaron on Cliffhanger Swinging Bridge at Lost Mine Falls

Cadence on Cliffhanger Swinging Bridge at Lost Mine Falls

We then drove The Foothills Parkway - East back over to I-40 and back to our cabin for the night.

Aaron with the Great Smokies in the background

Overlooking the Great Smokey Mountains from The Foothill Parkway - East

Friday morning we began the day at Mingus Mill.

Aaron in the stream that flows to Mingus Mill

Mingus Mill

And then we were off to Clingmans Dome.  Cadence was sleeping when we arrived, so Heath stayed with her at the car, so Ellie, McKayla, Aaron and I hiked alone.

View from the trail to Clingmans Dome

Ellie a few steps ahead of me with McKayla & Aaron at Clingmans Dome

McKayla with the Great Smokies in the background at Clingmans Dome

Aaron on the trail back down from Clingmans Dome

McKayla on the trail back down from Clingmans Dome

Aaron & McKayla on the trail back down from Clingmans Dome

McKayla, Me, & Aaron - When we got back to the bottom of 
Clingmans Dome trail, we had to mountain climb that huge pile of rocks!

Then, to the Forbidden Caverns.

The remnants of an old still within the caverns

A beautifully clear underground stream - 300 ft under the surface

An example of the old still setup

The underground stream again

And then (yes, it was a full day) we went to a dinosaur attraction in Pigeon Forge.  These pics might look benign enough, but it was a "boat" ride through a darkened "jungle" that scared Aaron.  I, of course, had to protect him!

Finally, we were on our way back to our cabin, along the 441, where we saw the most gorgeous sunset.

We also had some nice views of the mountains.

Friday morning we began our morning in Cherokee where McKayla and Aaron got a picture with Chief Wildcat and a buffalo.

Then they admired a bear inside the store.

Back outside, we then watched Chad perform an traditional Cherokee Indian dance for us.

We then left Cherokee and drove through Roaring Fork.  Somehow we missed some of the sights, but we did enjoy the drive and a couple of short walks.

Aaron, Cadence, & McKayla

Me & Aaron

McKayla & Aaron

Then we decided to slay the dragon . . . 318 curves in 11 miles.  It was quite the treat.  We only stopped once for pictures.  Otherwise we just enjoyed the ride!

Along the route, we'd occasionally hit the rumble strips along the edge of the road, but not because of the crazy curves.  We hit them for the smile of one little girl.

Cadence - What a lovely smile!

On our way back to the cabin, we then drove through Nantahala, where we stopped to stretch our legs along a stream.




Saturday morning, we took the kiddos in to Cherokee to play in the river.  All we heard, every day, as we drove through Cherokee was, "Can we get in the water?  Please?"  Well, Saturday morning we decided to take them in before we left for home.

The first thing Aaron wanted to do was catch a duck.


McKayla & Aaron


Ellie, Heath, McKayla, & Cadence


McKayla - I think this is my favorite shot of her the whole trip.

Aaron picking up a pebble

Aaron laughing

Aaron has obviously found a target for that pebble!

Ellie & Cadence

McKayla & Aaron

Later that afternoon, we took the Cherohala Skyway to the interstate.  The views were simply breath taking.

Just before leaving the Cherohala Skyway, we saw the Bald River Falls.  All parking was full, so this was taken from the vehicle . . .

McKayla and Aaron get along great, by the way . . . just like brother and sister!  Oh, they love one another to death, but they also annoy one another to death!  This is the only time we got peace!  LOL



Looking forward to many more vacations!