Dear Sweet Precious Readers,
My family vacation is drawing to a close. It is 1:30 in the morning of our last night together, and we are all exhausted. I haven't posted in 3 days, but I did write out my blog posts in the car today. I had second thoughts of posting all 3 days, because they are so long and wordy and pictury, and I didn't want to bore the stink out of you. And I also know how highly irritated some of you become if you have uber-long posts to read or more than one post in a day in your Google Readers. But, then I decided that as much as this blog is about you, it is really about my family. And about it being a journal of our lives. And so, I'm going to post all 3 days. So that one day I can remember the Dude Ranch discussion. And Caitlin and her ponchos. And what I ate.
So please know that you won't hurt my feelings if you don't read it. Jim-Dad will. And that is good enough for me.
The missionary reunion ended Sunday morning. We had an outstanding time of worship together, and everyone headed out with sweet memories and anticipation for the next reunion in 2011….which I somehow was suckered into organizing again. How this happens to me, I’m not sure. I checked the mirror before I went into the meeting where they discussed the plans for ’11, but apparently I missed the big “SUCKER” stamp that was plastered on my forehead.
After our cars were loaded and everyone was buckled in, we headed out. For Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. And all things Smokey Mountain and Dolly Parton related.
We were going to all stop at the tattoo parlor across the street from our hotel and get matching Dolly tattoos, but Jim-Dad was a party pooper and nixed the idea. Too bad. My mama was really aching for one on her arm.
We poured over tourist brochures, and we finally decided on a visit to Wonderworks.
The sign out front said that it was an amusement park for the mind….and that it was. It was this hugacious, nifty interactive museum/playground/crazy-lose-your-parental-mind place. There were simulators and rock walls and crazy optical illusions and bizarre hands –on exhibits. Wanna see?
And then my mom played laser tag.
And apparently was really sneaky and stealth-like.
Go Grammy. It’s your laser tag birthday.
And then we were hungry. And we ate at Happy Days. Yes. Happy Days. Think Richie Cunningham and the Fonz and Chachi. Only minus Richie Cunningham and the Fonz and Chachi. I was slightly disappointed that Fonzie wasn’t there banging on the jukebox, but my Cadillac Cheeseburger and Loaded Fries brought me right back to my place of ‘50s blissfulness.
And then, when Elvis wanted to take his picture with me, I was over the moon. Because you know how I roll with the King.
Oh….and that tramp Marilyn went and hung all over my husband.
Oh wait. He’s hanging on her. And SMILING!!! Hurmph.
And then it was back to the hotel for working on the computers….in the lobby. Still find that weird. And the kiddos all went swimming in the nifty hotel pool with the father figures.
We Are Family is shaping up to be a true adventure. But we are all having a blast and enjoying just doing what we do best….being family.
After eating, we headed out to the big D. And we did it all.
Here….just look at all this family fun.
We rode roller coasters, got drenched on water rides, and screamed like little girls while doing it.
And we listened to a concert. Of, of course, Dolly music.
And I bought this.
Yes. That is a bag of kettle corn the size of Nebraska.
And, yes. It was yummy. And yes, we still have it and are still munching on it.
After buying our obligatory teeshirts (I opted for a cutesy teeshirt instead of the gaudy black one emblazoned with Dolly’s face….although it was a hard decision), we went in search of dinner.
And because Jim-Dad deserved it, we went to the Golden Corral. And loved on the 3,389options for food we had on what just might have been the largest food bar I’ve ever seen in my life.
Look at Jim-Dad. Pleased as punch, I tell ya. Pleased as punch.
After dinner, we all waddled back out to our cars and headed back up to the hotel. No computering in the lobby. No watching tv. Just showers and straight to the covers.
Because wagging around kettle corn is exhausting, y'all.
What do you get when you have 11 people in a family who refuse to make a decision because they are afraid to hurt someone else in the family’s feelings?
Uh….you get my family.
Minus the husbands and the children. Because the husbands and children aren’t afraid to speak their minds.
The parents, my sister, and I….um...we would be the people pleasers. Heaven forbid we do something that would make anyone else feel uncomfortable.
And so went the decision making process for Tuesday morning. What to do? What to do? After each of us uttering, “It doesn’t matter to me” and “I don’t care” 203 times, we FINALLY did things the democratic way and took a vote. Only we didn’t ask the children. Because they don’t count. Only because their choices would have only included overpriced go-carts and mini-golf. No thank you, small people.
Vote came out:
Go in a cave -- 2
Go to a Civil War Battleground – 3
Go to the hotel and sleep/swim/read/blog – 1
Go to Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch – 1
I was the vote for the Dude Ranch. Shocking, I'm sure. I thought it sounded fun, and I thought the idea of Jim-Dad on a horse would have just been good blogging material. But no one else saw things my way. So much for saddling up with the Coal Miner’s Daughter.
We decided that hearing “I’m bored” all day didn’t sound like a ton of fun, so we scratched out the history lesson, and that left us with cave dwelling.
My three boys don’t do caves. Remember?
So….then Rock City came up in conversation. And just like that....our decision was made.
Rock City, it was. We hopped in the cars and skidaddled on down Chattanooga way. I fell asleep for 3 seconds in the car. 3 seconds. And when I woke up, I found us in the middle of a downpour. Ummm…Rock City is outside. And we didn’t have a backup plan.
I called up Caitlin, who works at Rock City, and inquired of what the weather was doing up on the mountain and what exactly the good ole’ folks at Rock City do when it rains. Miss Caitlin, who loves her job very much (I could hear her ponytail swishing, she was so perky), told me that they “just hand out ponchos!” Thanks, but no thanks, Miss Caitlin McPoncho, I might mess up this fabulous hotel bedhead ‘do that I’m sporting today.
So. Back to square one.
Stuck in Chattanooga. In the rain. With our hotel reservations 4 hours away…..completely out of our way.
We did a little digging around and discovered a gold mine. Who knew. I’m sure that Rock City would have been fabulously amazing, but this place rocked our eleven-people-roadtrip world.
The Tennessee Aquarium.
It was the most intense aquarium I’ve ever been to. Very cool. We saw huge fish and tiny fish. We saw funky fish and normal fish. We saw scary fish and friendly fish. We saw jellyfish and crabs and seahorses. We found Nemo. And Nemo’s dad.
And I touched a frog. (Oh…he’s not real. Are you nuts?)
And I found this out. And wasn’t really sad about it…..at all.
And we petted sturgeons. But passed on the caviar.
And we petted sharks. And sting rays. And the kids petted a snake….a real one. Michele petted one, too….only hers was fake. Because she and I….well....we're chickens.
And Keaton was a little nerd. He carried around a notebook and took notes. (And I have a picture, but it isn't uploaded yet....but just imagine Bill Nye the Science Guy in a Razorback teeshirt....that would be Keaton.)
It was an amazing place. Highly recommended.
And probably better than the Dude Ranch.
Dear Sweet Precious Reader,
If you hung in here this long, then good for you. Our trip was amazing, and I'm glad that you could come along with us.
If the only one reading this is Jim-Dad.....well, just know that I heart you like crazy, Daddy. And know that you hanging with me in cyberspace is pretty darn funaliscious.