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still more touristing

Today was the Ripley's Guinness Book of World Records museum. The kids were free and we had a free adult admission so that was fun. I am not sure it would have been as much fun if we paid full price but so it goes. Beyond that it was donuts, nap and pool.

Aquarium and a driving tour or vice versa

Took the motor trail past Roaring Falls. We did not hike but did stop at a couple of old cabins like one built by Noah "Bud" Ogle. There were a couple of fun areas by a stream as well. The highlight was seeing a mama bear and her cubs. It was certainly more impressive than the white tail deer and smaller critters we normally see.

Afterwards, we went downtown and wen through Riley's Aquarium of the Smokies which was rather impressive. It was certainly the best part of the trip outside of the park itself. We also did more wandering around the shops a bit so the kids could spend the money their grandma gave them for the trip. We ended the day playing more cards with the kids.

Fog... that's worth a long hike

Today was the first day we did any actual hiking. We started out hiking to Laurel Falls. This was fun but the distance meant that a few people went back to the cabin early.

The second hike was steeper but shorter. It was up to Clingmans Dome. One one hand, it was fun to be up among the clouds. Unfortunately, we were a little too up in the clouds that the clouds obscured the view. The real downside was seeing so many trees that had been killed by invasive species. This is apparently a huge problem in the area.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and playing cards with the kids.

Hot tub in Hot weather?

The pool was fun for the kids. However, I am not sure why they wanted to go into the hot tub when it is this hot out. Novelty, I suppose. Melissa and I were able to go for a walk downtown without the kids so that was fun. It was also a bit disappointing though. I guess I am not sure what I was looking for. There was a place called Ole Smokey Moonshine. It claimed to be place you could buy legal moonshine. This held some promise but there was not much to see of their manufacturing process and no pricing was listed for anything. In the end we moved on after a few minutes.

A brief tour of Cade's Cove

We finally began touristing in earnest. We got a later start than we had hoped. However, 9:00am is still a good time. It was really just a matter of how much we would feel the heat in the mountains. Today we went for the auto tour of Cade's Cove. This a valley in the Smoky mountains that was settled before the establishment of the park forced folks out. It was pretty interesting seeing the church's, homes etc that they had preserved. I am definitely a sucker for this kind of stuff. Luckily everyone else seemed to enjoy things as well. I am sure Melissa will post some of the pictures.

It appears we were high enough up in the mountains because the heat was bearable and that was definitely a positive. We will see how the rest of the day goes but it will probably just be swimming at the pool.

We have arrived... but only barely

I see tourist traps. They're everywhere! Gatlinburg itself isn't as bad as Pigeon Forge or Sieverville but it is still pretty bad.

We're at a place called Gatlinburg Falls Resort which seems to be a time share kinda thing with most of the cabins being owned by individuals and rented out when they are not in use. The cabin itself is a very nice place even if it is hot and muggy outside. The high point is clearly the arcade cabinet since it includes Galaga. Hopefully, things will be better once we get out and about.

A good use of your tax dollars or someone's anyway

We just got into Tennessee and stopped at a rest area. This was an information center of the most expensive kind. Among the highlights was a full building for vending machines, the welcome center itself, two support buildings and eight employees. My favorite was the security guard whose only job seemed to be keeping pets away from the picnic tables.

Biscuits and Gravy, should've tried the grits

It may have been a Super 8 but we slept well so that is a win. The hotel breakfast was better than I expected. Normally, we get cereal, oatmeal, waffles and fruit as options. However, this one included biscuits and gravy. The added bonus was that they were good. I always wish they had more pepper and sausage but that is not going to happen in a free hotel breakfast.

I did learn a few things. First, I am not sure how it happens but clothes and other items do not seem to like suitcases. They swell up to avoid going back into the case. Second, how is it that repacking cannot be done by more than one person? This is not a problem when packing initially. Regardless, we managed to get everything packed more or less successfully. In the future, I almost think a separate overnight bag would make sense so the rest of the baggage could stay in the car. This would save us dragging so much up to the hotel room for one night.

On the road again...

It is a stereotype that women cannot read a map. Fortunately or Unfortunately, this was our experience today. We were on our way down to Gatlinburg, TN when we realized the directions were going to take us 45 minutes out of our way. It seems that in Indiana all freeways lead to Indianapolis. The fix was simple, we would take a couple of two lane highways and save some time. Unfortunately, my wife decided I could drive and she would navigate. This did not go well. She kept getting turned around because she could not orient the map in the same way we were traveling. We did not actually lose much time, if any. Either way, we got to see a bunch of Indiana that we did not intend to. The highlight was when one of our company got so worked up about being hungry that they threw up in a McDonalds cup. Luckily, we stumbled into Oxford, IN and all the restaurants that serve the students of Miami University.

Side note: the regular subs at Quiznos are the size of a large anywhere else.

Once we made it to the hotel things were far less interesting. The hotel was a basic Super 8 with a pool. Ultimately, it was just pool, pizza buffet, tv and early to bed.

We may have over thought this.

We are not that special and we overthink situations like everyone else. We discovered this after we got back from Melissa's parent's house and wanted to go to Millenium Park for a bit.

First step, gather all of the requisite gear.
Step two, try and find our season pass.
Step three, get upset and annoyed with each other over not being able to find it.
Step four, come to our senses and go to the park without it.
Step five, tell the gate person that we lost it and get a new one.

Time spent getting a new one? About 5% of the time we spent looking and not finding the original one and without any of the grief or hassle we put ourselves through.

Side Note: The only way to make a Qdoba burrito healthy for anyone is to drop the tortilla and order it "naked". 330 calories for the tortilla alone is just ridiculous. Delicious though.

Cheryl's Retirement Party

We went out to Flint for Melissa's aunt Cheryl's retirement party. It was still fun to see that side of Melissa's family again since we do not get to see them much. Unfortunately, the age range is not a good fit for the kids so there was no one for them to play with. The plus side was that the party was at a local Eagles hall and it included a playground. It meant that I missed a chunk of the party but the kids had fun and Melissa was able to see her family. In the end, a worthwhile day.

Side note. Even the tiniest item at Checkers is ridiculously unhealthy.