During the second part of our vacation we met Grandma and Grandpa in the Smokies. We started the trip with a drive into Gatlinburg. It was raining and gross but we still walked the strip and had a good time.

Some lady clearly thought we were horrible to have Bria out in the rain. She had a hood on but that apparently wasn’t enough. She gave Mom her umbrella. It was a very nice gesture but she had no idea how she complicated our life. Either it was too hard to hold Bria and the umbrella or Arleigh and Hanan were fighting over who would hold it.

We ate at the Pancake Pantry. It was one of my favorite places to go as a family when I was little. It was as good as ever. There are so many places in Gatlingburg that I love because of memories I have from our trips when I was little. Of course I couldn’t talk the girls into going into the Haunted Mansion. We had a running joke of when I would have my rest stop moment. Last year while we were driving around out west Ray wanted to go to a little rest stop he remembered from a trip he had with his family. We found it. It wasn’t at all what he remembered. In fact, most of it was closed and we didn’t get out the car. My only rest stop moment was realizing that McKay’s Motor Lodge has finely closed. That was where we stayed every year.

There were lots of other highlights. We ate at the Apple Barn. That’s another favorite spot from my childhood. Ray and the girls were introduced to the best apple butter in the world. Then there was the apple julips and the fried apple pies. We went to the arcade at Fannie Farkles but we didn’t get any sausage or funnel cakes.

After Gatlinburg poor Grandpa endured a full day of shopping. We didn’t stop until around 6 p.m. I don’t know if he’ll ever hit outlets with us again. The next day he was rewarded with a trip to the Bass Pro Shop. We also took the girls swimming and to the water park on the complex. Then there was the free miniature golf. I can’t begin to describe Hanan’s swing. It was definately unconventional but she beat us all.

We finished off the trip by stopping to look at some bears. Bria really wanted to climb in with them. They were so fat and lazy they must have looked like giant stuffed animals to her. Arleigh screamed loud enough to send people running while we were there. No, she wasn’t being mauled or falling in the pit like her shrill scream seemed to indicate. She saw a wasp. That wasn’t one of my proudest moments.

Overall we had a great trip. I’ll try and post videos later. I’m ready to go back again even with the long drive. Thanks Mom and Ned for putting up with us.