Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter in East Tennessee

Well now that I've shared the big news about my move home, it's time to move on to other matters, such as my Easter recap!!  My brother and his family decided to spend their Easter/spring break in the Gatlinburg, TN area so I was thrilled when I discovered it was less than 4 hours away from me.  I drove up after my presentation on Friday in Charleston and arrived just minutes after my brother and his family arrived. 

Friday night was a low key night - we got take out and everyone except me played in the pool (lame I know but I wasn't feeling like getting all chlorinated that night).  I collapsed into bed that night after a long, exhausting week and was woken the next morning by my nephew Kolin crawling into bed to wake me - best way to wake up ever! 

Anna loved walking around in my shoes, which she called slippers!

Saturday morning selfie with Kolin
After eating breakfast in our room, we set out to explore the area.  My sister-in-law said the one way I could contribute to the weekend was by finding something fun for us to do on Saturday.  Thanks to my trusty friend, tripadvisor.com, I found out about the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.  It's a 6-mile winding road through a part of the Smoky Mountain National Park which was not too far from the condo where we were staying.  If you are ever in the Gatlinburg area, I highly recommend it!

Kolin was a bit tentative about this mountain road as it was pretty steep and curvy and there was a steep drop off on the edge.  He looks scared in this photo but how beautiful is the view?

He eventually warmed up to the mountains and had fun walking along some of the trails you could take from the road!
This road is perfect for a family with small children because the views from the car are very pretty, but there are points where you can stop along the away and take short walks to get closer to the waterfalls.  It's great for adults, too, as there are several hikes to different waterfalls that are 3-6 miles round trip.
Anna & I by one of the waterfall areas.

Another Saturday selfie with my little explorer.
The sights were so gorgeous.  Of course pictures don't do it justice.
 After we completed the motor trail, we headed into downtown Gatlinburg for some lunch. 

Anna was all smiles and sat really well during lunch.
After lunch, Kolin, my brother Chad and I decided to take the chair lifts up to the top of the mountain.  I did not think Kolin would be game for this but he was super brave and was not at all scared!

Skylift selfie on the way to the top.

The views at the top were gorgeous.  I heart the mountains.
After that, we headed back to the condo to do some swimming at the pool and this time, I donned my suit and joined in on the fun.  Unfortunately I don't have any pool pictures, but suffice it to say that we had a great time.  Both kids are such fishes so it was fun to play in the water with them.  We made dinner in the room on Saturday night (and by we, I mean my brother) and called it an early night.

On Sunday, we got up bright an early because my brother and I decided to do one of the hikes off the trail we'd drive the day before.  So we went to 8 am mass and hiked up to Grotto Falls after Easter mass.  We got there early so did not see many hikers on our way up, but we did on our way down so I am glad we started when we did as we were moving faster than most of the other hikers.

Grotto Falls was so beautiful and peaceful
After our hike, we headed back to our room, had Easter dinner, and then I hit the road for my return to Charlotte.  All in all it was a wonderful weekend and it was so great to spend time with family in such a beautiful setting.  I just love the mountains so much and never tire of hiking!  I would definitely return to this area again.  Gatlinburg itself is extremely touristy and not an area I am crazy about, but the Smoky Mountains are gorgeous and there is so much hiking to do in the area!

And - I checked another state off my list, bringing the total # of states visited to 31!

If you celebrate Easter, what did you do? If you don't celebrate Easter, how did you spend this past weekend?


Becky said...

Great photos! So glad you got to spend Easter with your family - and woo for another state crossed off the list!

We went to my in-laws for (midday) dinner which was delicious, but also gave us time to have to ourselves for the evening!

missris said...

Sergio went to UT Knoxville for undergrad and I think he spent about every other weekend hiking in the smokies. I've never been, but it sure looks beautiful!

Marlys said...

Those pictures are beautiful, especially the ones with the kiddos in them! So glad this worked out for you, and they enjoyed having you, too! We celebrated Easter in Tucson this year, and had a wonderful weekend with "daughter & son-in-law"!

Jeanie said...

It looks just wonderful -- and how fun to spend time with your brother and his family before you head north again! It's a beautiful part of the world. I was in Gatlinburg about 20 years ago -- still touristy, but less so. We loved the art studio drive in the country -- there was a map and you just could go (or not) to as many places as you liked. I still have a wonderful stained glass lamp I bought on that trip. But yes, the town itself, not so much, unless you like an overabundance of funnel cakes!

We were here and loving every minute as you saw on The marmalde Gypsy. Thanks for popping in. I'm still smiling about your good news!

Caroline said...

Sounds like such a great weekend! Smoky Mountains NP was on my list of things to do on my trip down there, but since the parks were closed we had to skip it :( But the mountains looked cool from a distance! Glad you had a great Easter! I spent the weekend at the cape with my fam, it was perfect

Alli said...

1. The scenery looks gorgeous.
2. When did Anna become a little person!?
3. I'm only up to 29 states, but I'll be at 31 too this summer after we do Washington and Colorado.

Nora said...

My goodness you have a gorgeous family! (And Chad is one of my favorite boy names EVER. In case you wanted to know that.)

Easter meant church, visiting my mom, Easter Brunch, a nap and then some much needed quiet & reflection time. It's a year in transition for us, holiday-wise...

Carolina John said...

it's very obvious how much you love spending time with the kids. I'm so glad you got to see such a pretty part of the state and spend time with family like that! What a great way to spend the holiday.

Lesli said...

We had a low key day. Brunch in Woodbury and then the weather was absolutely beautiful - in the mid 70s in Minnesota - crazy! So it was just nice to be outside and out and about and not have a jacket or boots on--woo hoo!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Love that your brother and his family decided to take a random family trip over Easter weekend. Love even more that it was close enough to include you! Looks like it was gorgeous. Bonus that you stayed in a condo, where you could have meals at home!

I don't celebrate Easter, but I did go to church with Sweets and his parents. We spent the rest of the day at their house, mostly outside as it was almost 80 degrees here!

Stephany said...

I'm so glad you got to enjoy Easter with some of your family. Anna is so big! Gosh, feels like she was JUST BORN. Crazy how fast time goes.

My Easter was just a strange day. My family didn't plan anything and my brother opted to spend time with his in-laws, so my mom, her fiance, and I all went out for an early dinner and that's about it! We didn't do our "usual" Easter stuff so it didn't feel like a normal holiday. (And I successfully stayed away from all Easter candy so I am pleased about THAT!)

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I love the photos! I want to visit TN sometime! Now I need to count my states visited!

Amber said...

I'm so glad it worked out for you to spend Easter with some family - and visit a new, beautiful area to boot!!

Our Easter festivities included a huge Easter feast on Saturday afternoon made by my grandma and an easter egg hunt with all our nieces and nephew on Sunday morning. Super fun!

Abby said...

This looks like SUCH a fun weekend! My goodness, Kolin and Anna and growing so fast - adorable!!! Miss them so much. That looks like such a beautiful part of the country. Hopefully some day Ryan and I can make it out there to do some hiking!

You got some great pictures! You all look so great!

My Easter weekend was obviously treat - my Easter Sunday? Not so much ;). Had to say 3 tough goodbyes. And that evening I went for a bike ride, and took a huge fall. Now, let's just saw, I'm looking rather battered from my waist down.

Leigh said...

Looks like you had a great weekend with your brother and his family! My Easter was pretty low key, but that was just fine :)

Shoshanah said...

I can't believe how old your niece is getting! It truly feels like just yesterday you were writing about how she was born. Crazy how time flies by!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

We did that same car tour in 2006. It was a lot of fun but yes, sometimes the look down was scary!!! Isn't it ridiculous how commercialized/touristy that area is?? Eeek. We had a condo in Pigeon Forge so we got the pleasure of driving through all of it every time we went into Gatlinburg ha. I spent Easter at my husband's grandma's farm and the kids had an Easter egg hunt. The weather was beautiful so we spent the day outside.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

That sounds and looks like a wonderful Easter! You and your brother look a lot alike, and that Anna is so cute - I love her bangs :-)