Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pigeon Forge

  My sweet kiddos had been counting down to this trip for a month, lol.  We took two weeks out of our chronological American History lesson to study the Titanic in anticipation of our first field trip of the school year!  We were so excited :)
   The last weeks of Feb and first weeks of March are the teacher appreciation days in Pigeon Forge.  SEVERAL attractions offer deep discounts for any school personel, including home schoolers!  Some attractions just offer home school discounts on their own, such as all of the Ripleys' Aquarium.  I can tell you this, each attraction we visited cost us less than $37 for all 6 of us to visit!!!  That's about what it used to cost just Stephen and I to visit the Aquarium lol.  Couple that with a wonderful rate on a fabulous room, and you have a really great, affordable vacation!  We were so happy to be there, and so thankful that Steak N Shake was a new addition to the area!!!

    The room was really great, we stayed at the Park Tower Inn, after finding several good reviews online and a recommendation from a friend, we booked and couldn't have been more happy!  The room was comfortable and clean, and also had a wonderful pool and lazy river which my kiddos loved.  Also, there was a fabulous breakfast, the kids were excited and it certainly saved us a lot of money going out to eat!  There's also a small game room, with about three arcade games, a pool table and an air hocky table, which some may think isn't much, but we LOVED it.  I really enjoyed playing pool with my husband in the evenings, it was something we both looked forward too.  It's been awhile since we have played games, lol. It was great.
   We spent our first day just hanging at the hotel and ordering pizza.  I mean, it was the premiere of Once Upon a Time part 2, so of course we didn't get bored!

   Our first visit was the highly anticipated Titanic Museum.  This was what they had came for, so naturally we had to see it first!!!

      For me and the girls it was the favorite part of our trip.  So much of what we had been learning came to life!  We got to read about the survivors that we had been studying about!  Hudson even was given a card with the name of a man we head read about and saw in our documentary!  The best part was that on some of the walls there was a little scroll that had a quiz question on it and three possible answers.  My girls got almost all of them right!  Just from our studies. I was one proud Mama, these girls were paying attention.  Hudson was equally inthralled at the musuem.  It was hard to believe how much growing he had done since we had been there two years earlier. My little guy slept, pretty much the whole time.

     The same day we wanted to also do Hudson's most exciting endeavor, and that was our trip to MagiQuest.  If you've never been there before, it's pretty neat.  The upstairs is a scavenger hunt basically, but its done in three 'magical' rooms, a forest, a town, and a castle...  you walk through the rooms and use your magic wand to find the things listed by the wizard, and when you find all of them, you get a pendant.  Then you move to the next pendant.  the kiddos really loved this..  it was very "once upon a time" ish.  They even chose "Rumplestiltskin" as Sawyer's magi name :)    The really fun thing about this huge castle is that the upstairs is just the beginning.  Downstairs they have an 18 hole mini golf in blacklight!  It's a pirate theme, and lots of fun.  Hudson was actually pretty good at it!  Also, there's a mirror maze, which was hillarious, and something called the vault...  where you dodge lazer lights.  Its hard to describe.  Check it out if you're that way, its well worth it.

The next day we headed to Gatlinburg to spend the day, and visited Ripley's Aquarium, one of our most favorite attractions in the area.  Sawyer was just a baby when we visited the NC State Aquarium over the summer, so we knew he would love this.  I dressed them in their thing one and thing two outfits, lol.  Cutest thing EVER!  I think by far our favorite was the Penguins, even if Sawyer was getting a little tired at this point.  They were sooo cute and the kids hung out in the bubble where you could see them for  along time!  Before we left they knew several of their names!

   I love this pic!!  I have pics of my babies like this with their Daddy...  Sawyer loved the Aquarium so much!!!

   Our second stop in Pigeon Forge was Christ Gardens.  I remember it as Christius Gardens, I went to visit as a child and remembered it so well!  Its a wax museum that depicts the life of Jesus...  and it was so neat.  My kids were so intent and focused.  They loved it so much, Hudson even really enjoyed it.  It was a very serene experience, and really put our hearts in a good place of thankfulness for his Grace.  It was wonderful.  The prayer garden was beautiful..  I can imagine if there weren't so many of us one could spend a lot of time just sitting in prayer in its beautiful garden.  I think it was wonderful.  

   After leaving, we were informed that there was free parking for guests for the entire day for those who were visiting the museum!  So we took advantage of that and the warm day to walk around Gatlinburg.  It was also the first time my kiddos and hubby had eaten at Five Guys (I had no idea lol...) and it was really good.  The mountains of fries were all eaten before we left!  I was surprised, but they really enjoyed it!  Lacey said she liked it better than Steak N Shake.  I wouldn't go that far, lol, but it was good!  
   While we were walking we dropped in at Ripley's believe it or Not, since they also had an awesome home school discount.  It was not Hudson's favorite, but the rest of us found it really interesting.  

    Okay so I don't know why I'm being kind like I'm writing a travel review instead of a blog, lol.  Hudson really hated it and said he never wanted to go back there again, LOL.  he found a few thinsg that he liked, but for the most part, he was very unamuzed and ready to leave.  I think it was the dark and kinda creepy African exhibits with the shrunken heads...  or maybe the County jail exhibit that was set up like a real jail house with creaking boards and clanging chains..  but he hated it.  I wouldn't recommend it if you had younger kids.  Callie and Lacey liked it, but we could have done without it, lol.  In all honesty.

    We were very tired at the end of the day!  We stopped by the shops at Governors crossing back in Pigeon forge momentarily then went back to the room.  We ordered pizza again, because dominos is great, and spent the evenings relaxing and in the pool.

   Our last day there was probably my favorite day of our entire trip, and one that made me actually think.  If I could go back and do it again (which I'm sure we will next year lol) I wouldn't do so much.   We had been so tired the past two days, and although we didn't spend much because of the discounts, I wish we would have spent more time doing things like this...  just enjoying the slowness of the day and enjoying one another.  Not trying to do as much as possible.  It was a GREAT day.  A restful day where we could just be thankful for one another.  Next vacation will have lots of these days!  

    We spent a couple of hours at the go cart track, which the kids loved.  Callie was super excited that she was big enough to drive on her own.  Both the girls were kind of nervous when they first got on the go cart but once they got started, they absolutely loved it!  It was hard to keep them off of it.

And there were bumper cars!  

I can't believe how big Hudson has gotten...  its crazy.  It seems like you just blink, and they are so grown up.  

    After they finally got worn out from the cars, we played some mini-golf until they got so hungry we just had to leave.  They really enjoyed the outdoor mini golf though, moreso than the indoor one.  They were getting pretty good at it!  

      We spent a few hours of the evening shopping at the Tanger outlets before we left, and really just enjoyed spending the day together.  There was lots of giggling, and ice cream!  The kids were so happy and excited, Hudson got that great hat that you see in the picture.  It was such a nice trip, and we so enjoyed the time we spent together!  

   It seems like March has gone by so quickly!  As soon as we got back we started shuffling around the rooms in the house, so that the girls were sharing a room and the boys, giving them all more room to play.  Its bittersweet as time goes by...  this house was on the market when we moved in, it wasn't available for rental until we needed it, and we know that once November rolls around they will not want to rent any longer, so we are starting to pray and seek a more permanent house, not to buy but something we can rent for a long time...  but for now, I'm trying to make the most of what we have and enjoy it for now!  My sister's wedding was perfect, and hopefully I'll be able to share that soon!  For now, there are kids to school and dishes to wash, so thanks for stopping by!!!