To the mountains we go

This vacation was so busy but so fun and relaxing and wonderful and tiring and filled with all the things vacations should be filled with.

We arrived late at night. We had a hard time finding our cabin, so once we finally did, we were a bit taken back by how small it was. The pictures made it look much larger. However, the next morning, when we woke up, we could see the river and the cuteness of the cabin. The smallness felt quaint and the charm was oozing. We quickly fell in love with it.

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the river was right in our backyard. They got so excited to see it the first morning. 
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 We ate a quick breakfast that morning and then loaded up to go to downtown Gatlinburg and walk the strip.

 We first took the kids to the aquarium. It was, of course, a hit. They were so into each exhibit and the giant playground.
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After the aquarium, we stopped for a yummy treat- cupcakes and fresh lemonade!


 We walked the strip with the kids before deciding to go on a hike we weren't planning on!
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 As we were driving by the trail path, we decided why not go for it. None of us were in hiking gear, and willow had JUST fallen asleep, but we just couldn't help but try! We didn't realize how far of a hike to the waterfall it was, and it's a good thing too or we probably wouldn't have done it. I can't remember how many miles it ended up being, but we were so proud of the kids for hiking miles and miles without any complaining. They were so into it. We played games, pointed out bugs and trees, did chants, and took turns carrying them to keep it fun. Looking back on the trip, this was definitely one of my favorites moments.

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Sweet abe slept through most of the hike!
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 We got home late that night, so we got subway to go and tucked in early.

The next morning we spent some time down by the river to chill and recuperate.

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After lunch, we took the kids to a place called "The Island". It's basically a big outdoor mall with small attractions. We just needed to kill time before going to Dollywood. 
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Our kids LOVE thrill rides. Josh isn't a big fan, but I love the. We did so many rides, and since it was a slow season, we were able to just keep repeating rides over and over. 
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 We were planning to stay late to see some Halloween displays all lite up, but willow had an accident and I didn't pack extra clothes, so we headed home early.

The next morning we woke up and went straight back to Dollywood.

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We stayed later than we planned that day, but had so much fun. The kids were EXHAUSTED when we got back to the cabin. Willow couldn't hang another second...
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 The next day we headed to Cades Cove. The kids enjoyed the old cabin, and we even got to see a mama bear and her little cubs, but overall, making that drive with three small kids wasn't our best idea.
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 The day we left, we decided to do some cave exploring before we left town. This was SO Much fun, but we didn't realize how intense this tour would be. It's doable with small kids, but probably not the smartest. The stairs were crazy steep, the pathways really dark and narrow. There were often huge dropoffs. We squeezed our kids hands so tightly the entire time. I'm so glad we did it, and even more glad we made it out alive! HA!
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 This vacation was such a sweet trip. We didn't know at the time, but it was the calm before the crazy storm of moving! Our home sold while we were on this trip. That was a MASSIVE blessing since it meant we never had to deal with getting the kids out of the house for showings. We knew once we got home, we would have to hit the ground running with moving prep and fixing up the new house. The Lord was so gracious in the timing of this vacation. He knew all along we would need this week. He is so good!

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