Highlights and snapshots from Day 2 of our road trip...
...Cruz slept all night snuggled in his quilt in the loft upstairs. I woke up to the sounds of his bare feet pitter pattering across the wood floor and into our room. The first thing he said? "Where's Grandma?" :) Mom heard it, too, and said it was the best alarm clock ever.
...We cooked breakfast in our cabin and sat on the front porch to eat. Bacon, eggs, cinnamon rolls, and coffee poured into porcelain cups we found in the cupboard. I'm not normally a coffee drinker, but waking up in the mountains just called for a cup of joe.
...Stopped at a roadside turnoff with a pretty view so Mom could catch her first glimpse of the mountains. The view was breathtaking and Mom's reaction was the best. The kind of reaction we should all have, no matter how many times we find ourselves in front of something as mighty as a mountain chain.
...Spent the day at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, just a few miles from our cabin. We ditched our tour guide on the first walking trail and followed our Cruz guide around instead --- over babbling brooks, under stone bridges, and finally to a pretty waterfall where we abandoned our shoes and played in the water for awhile. On the way back, Cruz got a little braver and we practically chased him back to the lodge! There he was, swinging his hips on the trails, yelling a 'yee haw!' as he jumped over a stick, and running just far enough ahead to make us (and other strangers along the trail) a little nervous! He stopped just long enough to throw a few stones into the brook, then off he went to explore again.
...Stopped and had a picnic on a little road-side scenic stop along the highway. It wasn't a designated picnic area, but I think that made it even more perfect for our lunch. The view was breathtaking. Cruz contentedly sat with his sandwich and Pringles' can while we gave Beau and Dad grief for forgetting the pickles. Beau took pictures for every family that stopped and we saw a big lime green bug that ended up riding on our back window most of the week - this would be one of three memorable bugs we (or should I say, Mom) would encounter during our stay in the mountains.
I love these pictures...what a ham he is.
...Went on the world's longest scenic drive to see a cove, even though we later discovered not one of us knew exactly what a cove was in the first place. We stopped to pet some horses, Cruz stopped to pee on the side of a dirt road (our second waterfall of the day), and we finally made it to the end of the drive not exactly sure we even saw said cove!
...Stopped through Gatlinburg to visit Ripley's Aquarium. I was convinced Cruz would love seeing the sea creatures housed within the walls, and within minutes of getting our tickets, Cruz was pleading, "Me want to go in there!!!" Ten minutes later and one look at the dark tunnel of marine life ahead, Cruz was running full speed for the door, exclaiming, "Me want outta here!!!" It took him awhile to get used to it, but he ended up having a ball spotting his first seahorse (I was surprised he even knew what it was), steering a makeshift pirate ship, and crawling under the penguin house with another cute little girl. We saw amazing ocean inhabitants - a massive sea turtle, neon jelly fish and seahorses, sting rays, penguins, and of course, lots of sharks. They also had a dinosaur simulation and Cruz was mesmerized by the gigantic tyrannosaurus rex!
Yep, me and the penguin :).
And the big brothers?!
...We had a really fun last night at the cabin. We set the table with cabin dinnerware and devoured grilled kabobs and sweet corn around the table. Afterwards, we put a tired Cruz to bed, popped some popcorn, played Bananagrams and pool, and sipped American Honey in the hot tub before bed.
It was a long, full day but simple, relaxing, and exactly as we pictured it. It was our first true 'cabin life' experience and Beau and I were both convinced it may be our preferred way to travel. It felt homey to cook dinner and set the table, do dishes together, and stay up late playing games while Cruz was snuggled up in a quilt upstairs. We loved our Mama Bear cabin, but anxiously awaited the next leg of our trip and the many adventures ahead.
The forecast said rain chances all day, but all we saw was pretty blue sky. Silly little weatherman...
A few more views of Mama Bear. She exploded with curb appeal and warmed our hearts.
Morning cartoons and pool.