A Smokey Mountain Vacation
Summer 2016 Challenge: Day 2
At the end of April, early May we met up with a bunch of friends at The Big Moose Lodge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for 4 days. This was a bunch of friends that Michael has made through playing a video game and have known each other for the past 17 years or so. They get together every year or two and the gathering has evolved over the years as many have stopped playing the game, had kids, etc. It’s great to get together with everyone from time to time.
Our trip started out super early at 4am because we had a 12 hour drive to get there. Shawn was super excited to go and had been talking about the trip for weeks and about how he “was getting up at 3:30am!” We had everything packed and ready to go the night before so not much needed to be done that morning, so we could just head on out! We made it all the way without any problems that evening. Shawn was convinced that we had driven all the way to other side of the world though. 🙂 This was his longest road trip to date.
You would think that being in an area such as Pigeon Forge that we would have a ton of activities planned, but that’s simply not the case. A lot of that stuff is touristy and expensive, plus we rented this huge cabin so we stayed there most of the time. As you all know, I don’t sit still well and wanted to get out more but I still had a great time. This is part of our bedroom and the entire place was rustic and looked awesome.
This is the morning view outside our bedroom window. Not a bad way to wake up in the morning!
On our first full day there, I woke up and knew exactly where I wanted to go. The Incredible Christmas Place has been on my list of places to visit from the moment we booked this vacation 2 years ago! It was amazing and wonderful and of course, right up my alley! Since I didn’t have all day to spend there, I didn’t take hardly any photos of the place but I did buy *ahem* a lot. lol
It was an awesome store (it was no Bronner’s though!) and I could have spent a lot more time there but we needed to get back to the lodge and to all our friends.
I can’t wait to decorate this year for Christmas with all the new things that I bought on this trip; including a new Dept. 56 Dickens Village piece. My collection is really starting to grow!
I believe that there were 37 people (including the kids) and the lodge was plenty big enough for everyone to be social but to also have plenty of space to do their own thing as well. The upstairs had bedrooms and a smaller living room area. The adults didn’t do much up there but Shawn and Alex (the two oldest kids there) hung up there and played.
The downstairs is more like a game room with a pool table, and they have a theater down there too. The theater section is behind that railing in the photo below. Shawn brought his hot wheels cars of course and had a blast shooting them all over the wide open spaces. He was having such a great time that we didn’t hear from him for hours!
Since we went to the The Incredible Christmas Place before everyone else had decided on what they wanted to do we missed out on going for a hike, but we did get out the next day. Shawn was whiny at first because it was HOT and he just wasn’t having any of it. But he did relax eventually and calm down.
This is Olivia and she is from Denmark and doesn’t speak (but does understand) English. Her mom is from there and her dad is from the United States. They met through the game, got married, and they live over there. This is not the only relationship to come about due to the game they played. Shawn was super sweet to Olivia and held her hand as they walked. He’s such a lady’s man. 🙂
We saw a small bear when we had begun our hike. It was oblivious to all the people watching it from a distance. This isn’t the greatest photo of him but I can’t seem to locate the memory card with Michael’s photos on it. He had the zoom lens and since we were far back, my photos aren’t as good. But it will have to do.
As we hiked up and up the mountain, we were met by a beautiful waterfall and we all hung out up there for a while before heading back down.
There was plenty of down time and everyone enjoyed playing with the kids. I played lots of games of hide and seek, hot wheels, and with other things that we brought along with us. They all behaved really well.
I celebrated my 36th birthday while we were there and I even got to open a couple presents too. The musicals were a gift from my mother-in-law and the frame was from a friend that was at the gathering. It was a great surprise and a terrific way to spend my day. It was great getting “in person” birthday greetings from those that I only typically hear from via Facebook.
It was great to sit out on the back deck with the binoculars and look out at the mountains, trees, and other wildlife. All in all, it was a very relaxing trip and while I would have liked to get out and “do” more, I am sort of glad that we didn’t. I got to sit around and talk to people that I haven’t seen a very long time (my last gathering was back in 2007. Michael has gone by himself between then and now), read my book, play with the kids, and just relax for a few days.
We made the trip home safely but I wasn’t doing well. I woke up that morning not feeling great and as the trip progressed, I got sicker and sicker. The day after I ended up at the doctors and I had come down with strep throat. I am so glad that it happened on the trip home (even though it made the 12 hour trip feel a lot longer!), instead of a day or two earlier. I would have been in bed the entire time and would have missed out on it all.
Not the greatest group shot but it was super late and this was going to be our last chance. But here we all are! A bunch of people that (mostly all with the exception of me and a couple others) all came together as friends by playing a video game. You couldn’t ask for a better group of friends!