August 23, 2017
My family had been planning this trip for the entire year, and now it’s hard to believe those amazing 10 days are already over!! We packed each of those days as full as we could and made every minute so worth the trip. Since it was a long drive with little kids, we decided it would be wise to split up the driving instead of knocking it off all at once on our way to Tennessee for our family reunion. We took my grandpa’s 15-passenger van so we could all ride together, and left Friday afternoon heading towards Cincinnati, where we stayed with some good family friends before heading to Gatlinburg.
I fully realized on this trip how big of a blessing it is to have family that I’m so close to and always have so much fun with. It’s always chaotic, we almost never got anywhere on time, and it was too easy to lose a child. But despite all of those things, there were always big smiles on our faces. We hiked, biked, and swam all day every day, ate good food, and had way too much fun. I love this family of mine and God is so good.
Hot tub time!
Even Dad joined in the fun!
Our friends we stayed with, Rick and Catherine, have a BEAUTIFUL back yard! They live in town, but you wouldn’t think about it because their house is surrounded by trees! We ate a lot of suppers on their patio, played wiffle ball and corn hole in their yard, and ended each night in the hot tub.
What a cutie…
It looks like she’s walking on water!!
We swam all day Saturday, then went to see the Cardinals play the Reds at the Great American Ball Park! You can’t have a Schrock family vacation without seeing the Cardinals play!
We got a family picture, but we were still missing a few…unfortunately, Lane was in Florida and Joya was in Virginia, but they at least got to join us in Tennessee!
Overlooking the Ohio River…
I almost didn’t share this, but I actually did almost fall down the steps of the stadium…
So happy he could join us for this family vacation as well! But he’s a huge Cubs fan and refused to wear anything Cardinal – to which he just sported a generic Iowa shirt!
I did actually get Lavon to wear a Cardinals hat, so I’m slowly working this Cubs fan in!
Sunday morning we finished the trip to TN, unpacked at the lodge, and toured the streets of Gatlinburg! Monday morning we drove farther up in the mountains for the family reunion, but it ended up raining and being pretty dreary the first two days. We hiked and biked and played games anyways – we didn’t care if we got wet!
Tuesday morning, we went even farther up into the Smokies to Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 6,643 ft, it was a beautiful site to see!
And this wonderful guy carried my camera bag for me everywhere we went…he has such a good heart.
Our cousins could definitely pass as our siblings…!!
When Lawson told me to stop taking pictures…
It doesn’t drop off as steep as it looks in this image, but it was still pretty cool!
We hiked up the path even farther and got into the clouds!
Pouring water on Uncle Brad!!!
From this lookout, you can see Kentucky on the left and Tennessee on the right.
Landry loved hiking with Lavon, but only because he was the only one that would carry him!
Family picture with everyone it…but not everyone looking!!
This van was a lifesaver and it was so nice being able to be together everywhere we went!
This is what our lunches usually looked like…on the side of the road, sitting on a curb, eating from a cooler.
Very fascinated with the ants getting his crumbs…
Holden was enjoying his sandwich too much for a picture!
The stroller tipped a lot…and a few times may have been on purpose…
Wednesday morning we went to Cades Cove, a valley where many of the early Europeans first lived and settled in the Smoky Mountains. They came around 1820 and by the 1830’s, there were three churches, a working grist mill, barns, and log houses in the area. We loved seeing all the history there was to learn about as we toured the 11 mile loop.
Wednesday afternoon, we drove back to Cincinnati for the last couple days of our trip. Thursday we went to the Creation Museum and it’s unbelievable how much we learned while there. I would definitely recommend looking into and taking your family, as it is very educational and it explains everything down to the tiniest detail about how this world was created, the fall of man, Noah’s flood, and so much more – all while being backed up by the Bible.
We walked the gardens, went to the petting zoo, and the kids even got to mine!
Could possibly be my favorite picture…!
Girl picture time! And as you can see the boys didn’t care one bit…
We went to the Ark Encounter on Friday and I have to say that was quite possibly the coolest thing I have ever seen! It made Noah’s flood seem so real life, like it is possible to have a worldwide flood that could house and feed two of every creature. It answered so many of my questions as we walked through the displays and watched videos. It’s an amazing testament to the Lord. Of course, of all the days, I forget my camera at the house…but thank goodness for iPhone’s!
However it dumped down rain while we were at the petting zoo, but we didn’t care! How fitting when we visit Noah’s ark!
And our sweet hosts in front of their beautiful house! These two amazing people were so hospitable and made the trip so much more wonderful for us! They are a blessing from God!
Ready to head back to Iowa!
We took one last family picture before leaving in front of the big van and trailer!
There were so many things we wanted to see and do before we left, and I couldn’t even begin with all the fun memories we made while we were out there! But here are a few memories I know I will never want to forget!
- When we hiked up to Clingman’s Dome and looked out over the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Lawson exclaimed, “Wow! I can even see the Rockies from here!” to which Levi stated, “Lawson, I think we can see the Rockies a little bit better from Iowa than we can here!”
- We usually could not drive more than an hour max before someone said they had to use the restroom…this made our trip take MUCH longer, but I guess that’s how it is when you are blessed with so many little ones 🙂
- Spending time in the hot tub almost every night with us older ones was super special and something we never get to do at home!
- We tried to get a family selfie so many times over the course of the week, and never once did we get a good one! We either couldn’t get everyone to fit in the screen because there were so many of us or we were missing someone…
- Lavon and I celebrated our one year anniversary while we were in Gatlinburg and I’m so happy it fell over our vacation. The lodge my family stayed at was right beside a river, so we went and found a spot on the rocks and had our own little date!
- The whole family ate donuts almost every morning for breakfast, even Mom 🙂
- We played a lot of Ticket to Ride and Hand and Foot, two of our favorite games.
- If any of you have ever been to Gatlinburg, you know how touristy it is! We walked the streets almost every night and looked at all the unique shops! One night we got ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and another night we went put-putting.
- We saw a dinosaur robot that moved and made noise at the Creation Museum, and I have never seen Landry get so freaked out in my entire life!