Yes!!!!!! You read it right, the finale - which means, ole' long winded one here is finally through with the trip report and your blood shot eyes can have a rest. I don't have another trip officially planned (BUT I am scouring the school year calendar and trying to fit a trip in there somehow before the winter weather is upon us if possible) so no worry that another TR will show up from me for awhile.
The final days:
We woke up early to head out for a pancake breakfast. This was the dining out experience my youngest son, Kyle, had been waiting the entire trip for. He is definitely a breakfast kind of person. He has very little use for food that is not traditionally breakfast fare. He could skip over any and all lunch choices and most of the dinner ones (with the exception of cheese pizza & pasta with a smattering of sauce - skip the meatballs)
Anyway, there had been much discussion and thought over where we should go to get these pancakes during our whole trip. Since there is a true toss up on these message boards over who actually has the best pancakes (and the fact that my crew eats micro ones at home quite often -- remember, different schedules + different breakfast times + numerous children +only ONE mom = I am not a short order cook so I take help where I can get it) I did not have a definite place set in my mind and thus the discussion ensued. Anyway, Pancake Pantry had been thrown around alot in the discussion, as well as Flap Jacks, Log Cabin Pancake, etc., etc. Everytime we passed a pancake house (which it seems is just about every 3rd restaurant in these parts), we would discuss where we should eat. Finally, we decide we are going to stay in PF for breakfast (closer to cabin and we would be returning here). Oldest son has a fit - he thinks the Pancake Pantry looks like the place, Kyle remarks we have a coupon for Flap Jacks (although, he sits in the back of the van and tends to have a quiter voice than the rest of us, and none of us actually heard him over all the talking/bickering we were all doing in the front of the van) My husband decides to just pull into the nearest place we pass (which I think happens to be a Red Rooster or something like that). Now, I immediately panic, - I don't want to be rude to husband (he did have that traumatic fall and he is just starting to feel better - probably partly due to the fact I have been able to keep him off of those go karts) I panic because, I had never heard the name Red Rooster on these boards. I am sure they have been mentioned somewhere, but I had never read them. Now, my TA gang has not let us down once on this trip. Everything was going well (at least when it came to YOUR suggested places, eateries, activities, etc.) I catch his eye and try to plead my case as gently as possible - "I never heard of this place before, the Trip Advisor board didn't mention this place - it could be terrible, I don't want to try it out" (Gentle huh?) Anyway, he swings the car around and announces, "they haven't let us down yet, where to?" Now I panic, where to? What if I lead us to the wrong pancake place (then I think - it is pancakes, not rocket science - we aren't going to eat pancakes anywhere else on this trip so who is going to know if I choose wrong, right?) I see a Flap Jacks up ahead, remember reading some people like this one and I had read about it in a few trip reports - so let's try this one. Son Colin is telling us it is a mistake, we should have gone to the Pancake Pantry, blah, blah, blah - I tell him - you want to pay to park there? He decides Flap Jacks looks just fine. This is when Kyle, who like I said, we had been ignoring, says again "And we have a coupon for this place" Thank you Kyle!! (Glad we decided to check in with him,since this is supposed to be especially for him anyway). It is funny, my poor husband is not a talker. He talks at work because it is part of the job - he is silent much of his non working hours though, not that he could probably get a word in anyway. However, he has the noisiest, talkiest, loudest bunch for a family (this time I am included because, as you can tell, I am a motor mouth from way back). That is why, with Kyle's quiet voice, he has trouble being heard. He likes to talk more than his father, but he is going to need a microphone soon if he wants to be heard with this crew. Why my husband just doesn't leave us at the side of the road at times is beyond me?!?
Well, we did have a good breakfast - Kyle was in heaven, he had Reeses Peanut Butter Chip & Choclate Chip Pancakes (Yikes, I got a toothache just looking at that combo). Colin got Choclate Chip Pancakes, daughters and I shared a breakfast skillet and an order of mixed berry pancakes, and my husband got a combination breakfast with eggs, pancakes and grits (he loves to come to the south, he LOVES grits). Good choice for all.
We drove up a bit to take a look at a few hotels we had scoped out in some of the brochures to inquire if they had any rooms. (We wanted to see the pool before we actually made a reservation, since this was primarily why we were going to stay in a hotel). Anyway, we decided on the Music Road Inn, made a reservation and headed back to the cabin. My husband needed to do some work and I packed up so we could go out and enjoy the evening when it was cooler.
We played for a while there and ate up as much as we could that was left in the refrigerator so it was a real hodge podge meal scene - spaghetti, sandwiches, sausage patties, eggs, and, of course, Chocolate Chip Granola bars.
We tumbled into the car and off we went for a last drive through the park. Everyone was in agreement this time and was looking forward to spending some time "cooling off" since it was sooo hot everywhere else. We decided to head towards Chimneys again (no wading in the rocks today). We went to where the trail begins and my husband heard the water down below and suggested we head down the trail a bit and check it out. What a great idea. It was BEAUTIFUL. I can not wait until Madison gets a little older so we can actually hike a bit with everyone. We enjoyed walking around, going along the stream and taking pictures and looking at everything. We had a great time and all said we would love to come back and play in the water there. There were quite a few people swimming and such and it looked like a nice place to play. There were some scary sights though - some parents were letting their kids jump off these rocks into the water (now, it was not at all deep. Other kids and adults were down below, standing in the water, you could see the rocks at the bottom and these young kids were just jumping in. I just was so worried, I had to walk away and find a new spot. Too scary for me. Just looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Swimming around and wading, and sitting in tubes is great, jumping into shallow water from bridges and high rocks, into streams filled with more hard rocks - not such a wise idea in my opinion.
Anyway, we had a great time just walking along together, exploring the trail and we all were sorry that our time in the smokies was coming to a close. We headed back to the car and into Gatlinburg for a drive along the strip. We all had just picked at food all day and Colin (who is always hungry and can always eat a "little something" saw the place were we got foot long hotdogs the day before and asks for one - (now as for the foot long the day before - actually, he didnt want one at the time, my husband & I had gotten a hot dog, no one else wanted one just then. They had just eaten a funnel cake. Anyway, Colin eyes up my hotdog about 3 seconds after I get it. I ask him if he wants a bite - he does - he ends up eating the whole thing except for the bite I took after his first one- note to self - get Colin a hot dog even if he "isn't very hungry".) Husband says - jump out and get what you guys want I will drive down and pick you up on other side. So, we do. Three of us jump out, order hot dogs, corn dogs and drinks and husband picks us up on other side. My daughter remembers a purse she had seen earlier in week and asks if she can go back and get it. Husband does the "drop" with us again and we get the purse - mission accomplished. I think we do the drop one more time for something else, (not quite sure what) and then we head off to the go karts.
We go to the Track, buy our half price tickets (which with 3 days of riding, is still no bargain price but is only half the cost it would have been without this option). Unfortunately, my husband must have hit his head again while I was getting hot dogs - he decides he is going to ride the go karts again - HELLO, did you remember all the pain you were in the other night? He comments that he can now put his right foot flat on the ground so he is much better. So Sorry, I didn't realize he had a medical degree. Anyway, he did only ride around once this time. The kids had a blast and we headed back for our last night at our cabin.
The cabin was great. We really enjoyed all the room it offered, all the amenities and the atmosphere. It was quite enjoyable and definitely how we would stay when we return. Cabin all the way for us (although, since I live with a crowd, a hotel room is usually not a vacation since we are on top of each other the whole time)
In the morning, we pack up the van, head out for a little shopping and then check in at the Music Road Inn. We swam for most of the day. Just relaxing in the water and winding down (I think I was preparing for the long ride home with 4 kids and nothing to look forward to except unpacking, laundry and putting everything away - yikes the return from vacation can be such a downer).
We went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday (which was right next door) and headed back for a little evening swim and then bed.
We headed back (after a 4th a final trip to WalMart to restock the cooler for the ride home) and had a wonderful trip home--Look who am I kidding - 8 1/2 hours in the car, 4 kids who can't seem to share the DVD players, the game boys, the IPOD's, etc (as far as the elctronics go - my husband is in the business so otherwise we would not be indulging in such quantities), school starts on Monday, we can't find a bathroom when we need it, everyone is touching everyone else, baby only napped for 10 minutes during the ride and then fell asleep 15 minutes BEFORE we pulled in the driveway so she was nice and cranky while we unloaded -- It was not a wonderful drive - VACATION IS OFFICALLY OVER!! As a side note, brakes on van started to go during last day of trip. Husband was afraid that we would "overpay" for brakes since he feels they are always trying to rip you off for brakes (not sure who "they" are) and is sure we can make it home. Anyway, he waits until we return to get brakes fixed - it only cost us about $700 - glad to see we didn't do it there and get ripped off -lol)
All kidding aside, our vacation was great, we had a wonderful time and I want to thank everyone for all their help, information, sharing and caring. I think Trip Advisor actually helps make the vacation. You go more prepared, you go anticipating all it has to offer, and then you can come back and share with people who share a love of the same things you do. For all of you that give your time on this forum - We thank you sincerely for all you contributed to our family vacation. You are great.
Best regards and God Bless,
Rene and the Crew
(we are looking forward to our next invasion of the Smokies)