This was not our typical trip. Most of the time it is hubbie and I and we are more about the park, the views, history, etc. This trip, however, was different but still very special. The twins are now old enough to enjoy the sites and what the Smokies have to offer - all be it - they loved the tourist traps even more. We arrived Sunday - we rented through Cabins USA and our cabin was Autumn Ridge. It was in a log cabin community and less than a mile or so from the strip in Pigeon Forge. I am not really a Pigeon Forge person, but again, we rented for the convenience of the kiddie attractions for the "big boys" who are all of two years old. We really didn't think the baby who is 8 months old would enjoy anything about the trip - WRONG. We have created an addict - he loves the kiddie rides and my daughter - all 5'9 of her had to fit her tall slender frame into several rides that were designed for toddlers. More on that later.
Back to the cabin. It had two master suites - I know I had read on here shortly before I left that someone had been searching for a cabin with two master suites - well this one had one and they were wonderful. Each had their own bath, king size beds and were roomy. When I say roomy - each one had enough space for a sitting area as well and the upstairs suite had a full bath and a separate jacuzzie tub. I am not exaggerating when I say the tub was huge. My daughter put on her swim suit and each evening she and the twins and the baby would get in and "swim". The temperature was cold and rainy and there was no outside swimming for them - the hot tub was too hot and too dangerous for toddlers and a baby so that jacuzzi was the ticket for them. We would come in in the evenings and say let's swim and the two big boys were stripping off diapers, shucking shirts and would be standing in front of the bedroom door naked sans socks. It was hilarious - if they spashed too much we would turn off the jets until they stopped the spashing. We didn't want to damage anything with water so we took care.
Downstairs there was a game room off the bedroom suite and it was huge. It had a sleeper sofa, rocker, full size pool table and there was still room. It had wi fi, we had four flat screen TVs, two decks, a front porch and mountain views. The downstairs deck had a hot tub and seating and the upstairs had swing, rockers and a fabulous grill. There were vaulted ceilings upstairs - fourteen foot ceilings in the bedroom and bath and high ceilings downstairs as well. Upstairs also had a sleeper sofa. It had parking for two vehicles - no yard to speak up but we managed to get all this for $125.00 per night. We were stunned. The decor was nice as well.
Okay Monday - you just can't teach an old dog new tricks - we rode straight to Cade's Cove. We got there and it was closed. Sunday evening they had bad weather and there were trees down and they were having crews to clean the roadways. We were disappointed to say the least and people were turning around and leaving, but we asked on of the volunteers if we could put the boys in their strollers and walk them through to at least see the horses that were at the fences. They told us it would be fine so off we took on a hike through the loop. A park ranger came along and she told us that she was going to drive the loop and that if it looked like the crews were almost through she would come back and open the road and told us to stick around for about thirty minutes and she would be back. Well we walked on and she came back and told us she would be opening the gates. There were very few people that had remained so we got into our vehicles and with just a few others began our loop through the park. Since we drive it so slow we took the twins out of their car seats and let them sit at the front windows for a better view.
We had one and our daughter had the baby and the other twin in their vehicle. We saw loads of turkey and "Bambi's". Mason would sit at the window and click like calling a dog and say "here bambi". He loved it. We got around to the cabin store - I had to stock up on pepper relish and the workers had not yet made it in so the store was closed. We learned we could get the relish that we are addicted to at any park store so we tried Sugarland and they were OUT. They did call the Gatlinburg Welcome Center and they had 24 jars - it seems everyone likes that particular relish but that was all that was in existence until more was made - well now - they only have 12 because I bought one of the cases. Moving onward in Cade's Cove - as I said there was no traffic so this is a rarity indeed. We're moving along the back side and off to the left side of the road - within 10 feet is a mother bear and cub. They are feeding on the tops of a tree that had blown down the evening before. Seriously people - 10 feet from the road and there was just one jeep, us and our daughter - three cars and not another in site. We were able to just stop in the roadway. The boys were absolutely fascinated sitting in the front seat gazing out at these bear casually eating. We didn't make a sound and didn't get out. We were able to sit there for 10 or so minutes and no other traffic came upon us - that in itself was a miracle but it was a great experience for the boys - nana was pretty thrilled about it as well.