gsm to kc: wilderness of the smokies & pennyrile
We've set a precedent that if we are on vacation in Summer we go to a waterpark. It turned out to be quite convenient for us that just north of Gatlinburg, TN/Smoky Mountain National Park in is Wilderness of the Smokies in Sevierville, TN. It is a massive waterpark complete with lodging, two outdoor parks and one indoor park. You are allowed access to the parks both the day you check in and the day you check out. They open early ~ as early as 9am ~ and close late ~ as late as 10pm. Well, all those details spoke to us and the price for lodging including the parks was fair, so this was our last big activity and we scheduled it to be on Roone's 10th birthday weekend. It was a very, very fun place to spend dome down time (Ella and I spend most of our time in the lazy river), although I think Jesse and Roone wore themselves out with the more high energy activities (see the Wake Board pictures, above, it was Roone's favorite activity).
Our last stop on the way home was at Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park. When originally researching our vacation I found many Kentucky state parks that looked beautiful with many activities. We decided to continue further southeast for our time away, but since this state park was on our way back home, and lodging for the night cost less than a hotel, we decided to take a minor detour to scope it out.
We arrived just in time to check-in and eat dinner, sleep, eat breakfast and leave. But driving into the park gave you scope of just how much forest there is, where the hiking trails are, and we could obviously view the lake from both the dining room and hotel room. It was all very inviting, and if we ever want a more simple getaway, this could be the place for one. There are plenty of things to do, canoeing, fishing, hiking, swimming (pool and beach), but without the epic-ness of our Smoky Mountain adventure.
The food was fantastic country cooking (fried chicken like my mom makes; okra like Jesse's grandma made) and the people were so nice (complete with Southern drawl which is sounds so friendly to me). The accommodations were homey, not modernized, which I actually liked; it made it seem that much more simple and relaxing. After a quick breakfast we were just under eight hours from being back home, picking up Arwen from the kennel and checking out how much the garden had grown while we were away!