Gatlinburg Tennessee Vacation

When we found out that we were heading to Gatlinburg we were beyond excited! We had a vision of being in a huge cabin with about ten friends, staying up late every night talking, laughing, and enjoying life. We knew that Gatlinburg was beautiful and there would be plenty to do but I guess we did not account for two one-year old toddlers joining us. We immediately thought to invite our nanny, in which she agreed to come to help out (Thank God). We already knew that we would stay at the Elk Springs Resort as we stayed there four years ago and it was amazing. So all we had left to do was confirm the amount of people and activities; easy enough right? WRONG. Everyone had schedule conflicts and could not make it. Our vision of a group of ten quickly became a group of three. What’s life without a few curve balls? Once the group was confirmed, we planned the activities and we were all set.  

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THE DRIVE

When we originally looked at the distance to drive from Atlanta to Gatlinburg, we saw that it would take us roughly four hours to drive there. With no stops along the way and a little extra horsepower, Jarius was sure that the drive could be done in three and a half. WRONG AGAIN. It took us almost five hours to drive there because we left right before rush hour. Now rush hour is usually 5pm in most cities but in Atlanta, rush hour is from 2pm until around 8pm. Needless to say, we were OVER IT!!!. Our kids were over it 1000x more. Since they are older now, they require more stimulation and movement. They quickly became unsettled and ready for some action. Even their favorite tv show would not calm them down. To add salt to the wound, Ashton was becoming overtired. We have the kids on a really good schedule and anytime they are thrown off it, they let us know about it. Ashton could not fall asleep, thus resulting in whimpering; which soon escalated to screaming.

We finally see the “Welcome to Gatlinburg sign” and the look of relief on our faces were priceless. We starting seeing all the familiar landmarks downtown and the memories started flooding in. We literally had a story for everything that was familiar to us. Excitement was definitely an understatement. We finally arrive to the resort, which is roughly ten minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg, and pulled up to the cabin. I immediately start removing the kids from their car seats while Terrell starts vlogging the scenery and cabin. We are all excited and the kids are too. After almost five hours, we had finally made it. We get to the front door and put in the code and after a few tries, I realized Jarius had taken us to the wrong cabin. Thankfully, no one was at this one but how embarrassing was that. Lol. We get back in the car and found the right cabin.

 

ARRIVING AT THE CABIN

When we first walked in, our mouths dropped to the floor. Now, we had been to resort prior to this, but this cabin was top notch! Immediately walking in, the first thing we noticed was the Great Room, which was surrounded by a wall of glass that had gorgeous views of Mt. Leconte. The cabin itself was three stories high and included amenities like our own private home theater, pool table, air hockey table, mini bar, side by side washer and dryer, and a hot tub.

The kitchen was newly renovated and included brand new kitchen appliances to prepare meals, a breakfast bar that seats 3 guests and a large dining area with vaulted ceilings and windows everywhere that seated 12. There were two wrap-around decks that featured a picnic table and, grill, rocking chairs, and THE HOT TUB!

The first-floor king suite had a fireplace, stand up shower, jacuzzi tub, and direct access to the deck. The second floor of Silver creek featured three different sleeping areas. A large loft area with a queen sleeper sofa and tv. There was also a king bedroom and an additional bedroom with 2 twin bunk beds. A full bath with a tub shower combination - accessed by the second-floor hallway. The lower level included the pool table, air hockey, bar, and a 9 ft movie theater screen and seating. The lower level also had a king suite with a master bath, jacuzzi tub, standing shower, closet, and a door way to the wrap around deck with the picnic table. We were a little sad looking at the backyard because they were building a REALLY nice outdoor pool. This would have put the icing on the cake for us, so to all future visitors, enjoy!

 
 
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Activities

 

There is so much to do in Gatlinburg and we soon realized this. If you are looking to go, please plan to go for at least five days to ensure you get the most out of the trip. This was a short vacation for us and our first one with no help with our kids so we did not get to do everything that we wanted. BUT, the things we were able to do was amazing. We started by going to Downtown to do the “touristy” things like sightseeing, shopping, and literally eating everything in sight. We had everything from Turkey Legs to ice cream, so you can imagine that we all gained a few pounds while there. But hey, who counts calories anymore right?

Outdoor Gravity Park: This is the place to go for our thrill seekers. Basically, you drive up to the top of a 1,000ft hill and climb into this GIANT ball and speed race down the hill. This had to have been the most fun I have had in a very long time. They fill the huge hamster balls with water and you can either roll solo or with a group of four on one of the tracks. Our hearts were about to leap out of our chests as we waited to be pushed down the hill. Once we got rolling, the excitement took over and all we could do was laugh until we couldn’t breathe and scream. Will and Boots rolled together and they legit sounded like women rolling the entire time. They were terrified! I think the feeling of not being in control of your motion made everyone have no choice but to enjoy ourselves. Overall, this was probably the best part of the trip. We will definitely go “Zorbing” again.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: If anyone knows us, you would know that we LOVE Ripley’s! So naturally, we had to go to 3 of their attractions in Gatlinburg. We visited the Odditorium, their Mini Golf course, and the Aquarium. The odditorium the weirdest place we have ever been. In a good way, of course. It has so many interesting one of a kind things like a Dragon that is made out of recycled scrap metal. The golf course was very interactive and fun. Of course, the Joseph’s came out victorious but it was fun to see our friends try and keep up. The aquarium was very kid friendly and even had a dolphin show included. They had some animals that the Georgia Aquarium does not have so that was a plus. It was not overly crowded and it had a big playground inside, which is good for all the parents out there. Overall, we had an amazing time and look forward to visiting again! We may make it a yearly tradition :)

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First Family             Vacation Pt. 1

 
Photo by: Ly Sué in Orlando for  Flytographer

Photo by: Ly Sué in Orlando for Flytographer

We would first like to thank VisitOrlando for helping us coordinate our amazing family vacation. We had a jam packed 4 days of non stop activities and memory making fun! However, it started off TERRIBLE! First, Southwest Airlines delayed our flights for 3 hours. We are supposed to leave at 10:05pm and arrive in Orlando at 11:30 pm. We were already cutting it close because the rental car facility closed at midnight. Luckily, they partner with the neighboring rental stand who was able to get us in our whip when we arrived at 2:30 am. Before I get ahead of myself, let me not forget that we forgot the camera! After dropping everyone at the airport so that we could check our bags, I rushed home to get it and quickly drove back to park the car and take the shuttle to the airport. 

At this time, I am thinking we are all in the clear. Right up until we get through baggage check and realize we left the backpack with our phone chargers, computer, AND camera charger in it back at the parking garage in our truck. I swear I could have screamed! I felt like the vacation devil was out to get us. At this point it was nothing we could do but make the best of it and deal with it all when we arrived. We finally made it to our AMAZING resort Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort and everything started to feel a little better. We had an awesome 3 bedroom, 3 full bathroom villa with a full kitchen and living area. The resort also had its own waterpark, mulitple arcades, watersports, golf, and mini golf. We really did not even have to leave the resort!

This video features our amazing room at Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort. This resort was absolutely amazing and perfect for any vacation.


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After getting about 5 hours of sleep, we woke up in the morning to head to SeaWorld! We were so happy the weather was being kind to us, it was supposed to rain the entire week we were there. However, when it wasn't raining it was SCORCHING HOT. Trying to look cute, we were burning up. Remember me saying we forgot the camera charger? Yeah so all of our footage was on our phones aside from the first couple of minutes when we walked in. We had a blast feeding the pinnipeds, watching the animal shows, and seeing the dolphins (Terrell loves dolphins). 


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After a couple of sporadic periods of heavy rain, we left SeaWorld to head over to The Escape Game Orlando. Let me tell you guys, this is a MUST if you visit any city that they are located in. It was a great bonding activity we got to share with our moms and best friends as we worked together to find clues and get out of the room. You only have an hour to get out and we ended up escaping with 4 minutes left on the clock. The staff was amazing and we all purchased shirts to commemorate our victory!


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PhotoShoot Disaster

"Attempting Family Photos w/ infants"


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Taking pictures and creating lasting memories is supposed to be filled with fun and an amazing experience. You spend all this time in multiple stores searching for the "right" outfit. You go back and forth in your head imagining what colors will look good with what scenery. You finally find the perfect outfits and cannot wait until you can see everyone in them. We planned ahead on how we were going to make this day a successful one.

Being that we took family photos before, we figured we would do things a little differently as our daughter was not cooperative at all during our Easter pictures. Our plan was for the kids to have a nap beforehand so that they can be full of energy when its time to smile. This time was a bit difficult as the location was over 90 minutes away and we had to be there at 10am. I (Terrell) made the decision to just let them sleep though the night, feed them in the morning, and head out. A full nights rest beats a nap any day right?

 

 

Boy how WRONG I ended up being. We got them up, got them fed, dressed, and loaded up. Everything was going well until Ashton got sleepy 10 MINUTES before we arrived to the location. I prayed I would be able to snap him out of it, as Ashton is usually very chill and calm. If it were Aria, I would have told Jarius to just turn the car around immediately and let's go home.

From the moment I got him out the car, you could tell he was not for it. I tried every trick I knew how to get him to smile and they all failed. My baby was TIRED and it was nothing that could be done to console him. At this point Jarius is extremely irritated because he has the "I told you so" spirit and just had to remind me how we did not follow his original plan. He suggested waking them up earlier around 5am, feeding them, and letting them go back to sleep before we left around 8:15. At this point we just had to make the best of it. 

 
 
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We tried everything to get just a few good pictures and were only able to get one of just him and I right before all hell broke loose. You can kind of see it in his face how things were about to take a turn for the worse. From then on, as you can see the vast majority of our pictures are from the back. Good thing sound does not come from photos. Remind you, we are at some park near Lake Lanier so there are people walking their dogs, jogging, and just enjoying some sunlight. Meanwhile, our child is screaming at the top of his lungs while we are putting on fake smiles to try and save the pictures. 

In the end we loved how the pictures (of our backs) came out. We got some really great shots. However, we were disappointed the experience was not what we imagined. We learned another lesson for sure on what to do for next time. I pray we get it right in Orlando next month for our 1st Family Vacation!