Wednesday, October 11, 2017

RV Trip - IL, IN, KY, TN, GA, SC, NC

Day 1 - Airport, Lots of Driving, Abe's House, and Big Mike's House

Today we began a nearly 3 week long RV trip, combined with stops at several chiropractic colleges that Kyrie will speak at.  Our trip will take us through at least 7 states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennesee, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina), plus one bonus state (Minnesota) for Kyrie.  We left at 3:30am this morning because Kyrie is flying to Minnesota to a conference and to speak to the school there.  We drove her there with the RV hitched up.  I'm not that familiar with Midway airport, so I didn't try dropping her off right at the terminal since we had the RV.  I took her to one of the parking lots and she took the shuttle from there.

The kids and I continued on to Indiana.  Most of the kids slept for at least a couple hours in the morning and then Zach and Zoe ended up taking another nap in the afternoon.  Indiana was uneventful, other than 3 stops for "breakfast".  The second and third stops were more like snacks than breakfast.  We have to stop about every 200 miles for gas and of course someone always has to get out of the car, so that really slows us down.

When we got to Kentucky we stopped at a rest stop for lunch.  Only Zach and Zoe wanted to get out of the car and run around.  The other kids thought it was too cold (about 60 degrees).


After that, things got more interesting.  We took a little detour to see Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace.  There is a rather odd memorial building there, surrounding a replica of the cabin that Lincoln lived in for the first 3 years of his life.  I really couldn't understand the point of the building around the cabin, and the replica wasn't much to look at, but it was interesting to see the land where his family lived.  There was also an 15 minute movie playing in the visitor's center, about Lincoln's Kentucky years.  That was interesting and had a lot of information that I had never heard before.

The highlight of the day was Big Mike's Mystery House.  This was one of those gravity defying buildings where they make the floors really slanted and show you tricks like water running uphill, chairs standing on two legs, etc.  I always enjoy these placces, and this was no exception.  I was a little concerned by the look of the place - it's primarily a gift shop - and the fact that the tour guide told us to prepare to be amazed, but not that amazed since it was only $2!  Well, the tour was great fun.  A bonus was seeing the fossilized skull of an ancient sea creature in the gift shop.

After many, many hours in the car, we finally arrived at our campground - Nashville North KOA.  It's a small campground, right by the highway.  The staff was very friendly and the kids like being right by the playground.  For dinner we went to a nearby buffet.  It wasn't very good, but it was convenient.

Max:. We. Drove. THIRTEEN. HOURS. (Angry voice.)

I'll have to put in the rest of the pics later, the wifi here kind of stinks!

My day went smoothly. Zero wait at the airport. Time for a little breakfast before boarding the plane. Southwest Airlines was right on time and the weather cooperated. The hotel shuttle picked me up and I must have checked in around 10 am. My room was even ready, so I unpacked, freshened up, and took an Uber to Northwestern University in plenty of time to be calm for my noon presentation.

My presentation about taking care of kids was well received and I went to the mall to get some notebooks from a store I know and like well from visiting it at other conference times. I also got the worst manicure of my life. It was so bad it was laughable and when I went to write a bad review online I saw hundreds of other one star reviews. Crazy how this place can operate in the Mall of America. Obviously they need a good flow of non-repeat customers to stay in business so I guess they're pretty savvy after all. 

Finally, I went to the NUCCA board meeting at 6 pm. Ate a protein bar for dinner at 9pm and went to bed after this very LONG day!

Day 2 -  Nashville
It was a bit cold and wet when we woke up.

We packed a lot into our one day in Nashville.  We started out by briefly checking out the downtown area and visited the Tennessee State Museum.  For a free museum, this place had a lot to offer.  There were many large displays here about Tennessee through the years.  Some of the highlights were:
- a mastodon skull (well, half of one anyway)
- home displays from a pioneer cabin to 1700's frame house, to an 1800's plantation mansion.
- lots of civil war stuff
- some information about the years after the civil war
- an oddly out of place mummy

All of the kids wanted to try the stockade.
The creepy mummy

After the museum, we drove to Opryland Resort.  With over 2,000 rooms, this is the largest hotel in the United States that doesn't have a casino in it.  It's a huge place, but what is so great about it is the many indoor garden areas throughout.  One of the sections has a boat ride running through it.  It's expensive, but it was fun and the boat driver even sang several times throughout the ride!

Next we headed to the zoo.  It's a nice zoo, with plenty of animals to see, but the two highlights were a ride and a playground!  After spending a lot of time looking at the animals, Jacob, Max and Zoe just had to try out the Soaring Eagle ride.  It's kind of hard to describe the ride, so hopefully the picture will do that for me once I load it.  After that we headed to the playground which is just amazing.  My phone ran out of batteries, so I only have a couple pictures of it, but those will give you a taste of what it's like.  The playground is huge.  It's mostly wood, with a couple of plastic slides, swings, etc.  It's got like a 5 story jungle gym.  A bunch of bouncy bridges, rope climbing things, areas to hide, climb and play in,  and even a cave!  It was pretty awesome.

We didn't have a lot of energy left after that so we headed to dinner.  We picked the Aquarium Restaurant in the Opry Mills Mall.  The restaurant surrounds a large aquarium and is themed to look underwater throughout.  It was decent food and the kids had fun finding the different fish in the aquarium.  We walked through the mall after that and found some mini cupcakes for dessert.

Day 3 -  Friday the 13th/Foiled Again!

Nothing went right today!  Today is the day we are traveling to Atlanta.  The first problem I had anticipated, but it was still a bummer.  We couldn't get a campground at our next stop!  I had been trying to get a campground around Atlanta for about a week, so I wasn't surprised, but I still called every place again today hoping for a cancellation.  I booked a hotel in Marietta that had bus parking.

So then, we got hitched up and headed out.  We were doing fine until it was time to get gas.  The problem with pulling an RV with the van is that I (of course) still have to use the regular gas pumps.  That's a problem at a lot of gas stations that just don't have room for a trailer at their regular pumps.  Usually, I can find one that works at least on the outer most pump, but today it took three separate stops before I could find one!  It wasn't that big of a deal, but it slowed us down and just added to the troubles of the day.

Next we stopped at Smokey's BBQ in Monteagle.  No problems here.  Plenty of RV parking in back and the kids were happy with the food.  I picked the buffet because it just seemed easier than picking something, but I think the food on the menu would have been better.  It was still good, just could have been better.

Back on the road, my GPS soon told me that I-24 (like the only major road to go to GA from Nashville) was closed near Chattanooga.  There must have been an accident and all of the lanes were closed in our direction.  This turned out to be a major problem.  Traffic soon came to a SLOW crawl and my GPS sent me on a back road to make my way around the problem that was still probably 75 miles away.  It was a nice scenic detour, but of course everyone else was going the same way as well, so it was still a very slow ride.  My main concern at that point was that I was going to run into an issue with clearances or tight turns.

Here's where the "Foiled Again" part happens...Ever since I was a child I've wanted to go to Rock City.  I still vividly remember seeing the marketing genius of a thousand miles of Rock City signs that I saw from the backseat of the car on our way to Florida when I was a teenager.  On that trip, we couldn't go there because it was late at night when we drove through.  As an adult, I've driven past several times and always had a reason why we couldn't stop.  This time I was determined.  With only a 4.5 hour drive, we would have plenty of time to go to Rock City.  Also, the weather cooperated.  Last time it rained so we didn't go.  I even called Rock City to find out how I would get up there with my RV (although I was completely prepared to unhitch it if necessary!)  They gave me special directions to go that would be easier for an RV.  Everything was set.  BUT when our 4.5 hour drive started becoming a 7 hour drive I knew I was out of luck.

Finally, we got to Chattanooga and the GPS put us back on the main road beyond the accident area and we were starting to move again.  We should have had about an hour and a half left by then, but as soon as we turned onto I-75 it happened again!  There was ANOTHER major accident!  This one also brought traffic to nearly a complete stop.  After a while of moving along at a snail's pace we stopped for dinner.  I let the kids pick their favorite place, Panda Express, since they'd been so patient with our long day.  When we got back on the road it was still very slow, but eventually we finally arrived in Marietta.

Obviously, I feel bad for the people involved with the actual accidents and our inconvenience was nothing compared to what they must have gone through.  It was a really long day though.  What should have been 4.5 hours plus stops ended up being a total of 10 hours!  By the time we checked in to the hotel I was wiped out!

Day 4 - Our family is complete again!

We picked up Kyrie from the Atlanta airport today and I'm so glad!  After that day yesterday we were all pretty crabby, so it was good to have Kyrie back to help run the show.

The pickup from the airport went smoothly and we had a quiet day.  All we did today was shop for a pair of shoes, do laundry, and go out to dinner.

None of it was that eventful except that dinner at Magiano's took forever.  It took over 2 hours and for no good reason.  The waiter just didn't know how to balance his tables and we kept getting left out.  Luckily, the kids were doing a good job of entertaining each other so they didn't seem to notice.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have something more fun to write about!

Day 5 - Georgia Aquarium and The Southern Museum

We visited the Georgia Aquarium today.  We've been there several times before, but it's an excellent aquarium and we couldn't really think of anything we would rather do in Atlanta.  We had a lot of fun.  The highlights were the beluga whales, whale sharks, touching starfish, and the dolphin show.

We took a break for lunch at Twin Smokers BBQ nearby.  The food was excellent.

We happened to be visiting on a Sunday that the Atlanta Falcons were playing so I was a bit concerned about parking and traffic, but we got there early enough that it wasn't a problem and we left while the game was still going so it all worked out.

We dropped off Kyrie at the hotel so that she could prepare for the talk she was giving at Life University tonight and went to The Southern Museum.  This was advertised as a Civil War and Locomotive museum.  I guess that was accurate, but it had a lot more train stuff than Civil War stuff.  Zach wasn't that thrilled to be there, so we didn't exactly take a good tour of the place.  We mostly skimmed through it.  There was an interesting story about a train chase that occurred during the Civil War.  I don't know the details yet because Zach wouldn't let us read the plaques, but they sold an old Disney movie about it in the gift shop, so I bought it to watch later.

Day 6 - Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

Today we left Atlanta and headed to Hilton Head Island.  It was an uneventful drive.  We stored our RV at Hilton Head Island RV park.  They said they get a lot of people that are staying at Disney's resort - some of them after they already tried to park there.  Luckily, Kyrie researched it ahead of time and knew that there wasn't room to park an RV at the resort.  (There's barely room to park our van!)

After dropping off the RV, we drove about 5 more miles before we got to the resort.  The Disney resort is perfect as usual.  We haven't had time yet to check out much of it, but everything looks familiar.  Like the other DVC resorts it is perfectly clean and looks freshly painted.  The rooms are in "cottages" scattered around the property.  We haven't seen it yet, but there is a pool in the middle somewhere.  Our room is towards the end of a marina.  Our view is of a courtyard area.  There is a marsh that surrounds the back of the resort and a creek from the ocean leading to the marina.

After unpacking we headed to the grocery store and dinner.  We ate at The Lowland Backyard.  It was excellent!

I can't say much about the island so far, but it seems crowded!

Day 7 - Exploring the Resort and Manatees!

The weather was chilly and windy today so we avoided the beach and the pool.  We spent a relaxing day exploring the resort.

The grounds of the resort have quite a few games setup to play.  In our area there is a boccie ball court and a giant checker board.  Scattered around the other areas are bag toss, shuffleboard, a putting green, a basketball hoop, etc.  Add to that quite a few hammocks, plus a playground, a covered area with Foosball and ping pong, and a campfire area where they show movies at night.  There is also a pier that goes out into the marsh where you can fish for crabs.  We saw someone catch a crab while we were there.  It was quite big.  They seemed surprised to have actually caught it and didn't quite know what to do with it.

We had a lot of fun playing with the different games.  The kids couldn't pass any by without trying it out.  We also stopped in the gift shop where Zoe got to pick out a special prize for going a week without any tantrums.  Too bad the effects weren't lasting!

The best part of the day was when we saw some manatee's in the marina.  We were just walking along and I saw this huge lump in the water.  At first I thought maybe it was an alligator because I only got a quick look at it and we had seen signs warning of alligators.  When it came back up I could see that it was a manatee which was really cool.  We'd never seen manatees in the wild before.  Eventually, a second manatee was there too.  Seemed like a terrible place for them with all of the boat traffic.

After lunch we headed over to a shopping area that has a bigger playground.  We spent quite a while there playing.  I think we were all happy to mostly avoid the car for the day!

We had dinner at Poseidon's.  They have an early bird special which works perfectly for us.  The food was excellent and actually came quickly.  We've been having a hard time adjusting to the laid back service we've experienced in the South.

After dinner we checked out Disney's Beach House.  The beach house is about a mile from the resort and has a quick service restaurant, it's own pool, and probably some activities.  We didn't get there until 6:30pm and nobody was there, so I don't completely know what it's like.  We headed to the beach after that just to see it.  The kids built a few castles and we looked around a bit.  It was a nice evening.  The waves were quite rough - glad we weren't trying to swim!

We went back to the main lobby of the resort for some ghost stories after that.  The storyteller was good and even kept the small kids interested for about half the hour.  Zach was asleep before it was finished, but he's wide awake now!  Well, time to play musical beds...

Day 8 - Savannah, Georgia - Miss Wilkes Restaurant

It's still not quite warm enough for swimming, so we decided that today would be a good day to tour Savannah, Georgia.  We took a hop-on/hop-off trolley tour which gave us a brief history of the area and pointed out the major sights along the way.  We only got a brief look at each thing and we didn't get off and check much stuff out, so we only got a piece of the puzzle so to speak.  The historic area is really beautiful.  The large trees down every street and the many public squares  really give the area a unique look.  I feel like I missed a lot of the history though.  It's Georgia's oldest city - founded in the 1700's.  So, I expected to learn more and maybe I would have with more time.  What I did learn is that they designed the city before the colonists even arrived.  The city had 24 squares at one time with businesses and houses surrounding each.  22 of the squares remain - no word on what happened to the other two.

For me, the best part of Savannah was Miss Wilkes restaurant.  This place is amazing/ridiculous!  It's known for it's fried chicken, but that's really just the start.  When you arrive at your table it is loaded with food.  No I mean LOADED.  I don't know how many side dishes there were - maybe 20?  At least.  There was barely room for our plates!  Every southern side dish you could think of, plus a few more.  Then, once we were seated and starting to pass around the food, they brought out the chicken (which we had forgotten about by then) and some biscuits and corn bread.  Plus a couple more things in case that wasn't enough.  All of the food was delicious to say the least.  Some of it, I still don't know what it was.  The only trouble was that once you tried a bite of each thing you were full.  It was a great meal.  Sorry about wasting all that food though!

We also went to the Prohibition Museum.  Zach hated the place immediately and made me take him out.  The others went through it, but didn't seem that interested.

Day 9 - Beach and Pool

The weather finally warmed up nicely and we spent the whole day swimming and playing at the beach.  We started at the hotel pool for a little while and then drove the mile to the beach.  We had lunch at the beach house that Disney has at the beach.  Good sandwiches.  We spent most of the time playing in the sand at the beach.  The tide was low, so there was plenty of area for the kids to play in some water without having to worry about the surf.  The kids love building sand castles.  We also spent some time looking for shells.  When we were finished on the beach we spent time at the Beach House pool and playing some games there.

Day 10 - Wildlife

My goal today was to see alligators and dolphins.  I wasn't 100% successful, but we saw a bunch of things I wasn't expecting, so I'm not complaining.

We started out morning out at Sea Pines Resort area.  The kids played at a playground while Kyrie checked out all of the little shops around.  There is a lighthouse here, but we decided it didn't seem worth the $5 to go inside.  We went to the Sea Pines Preserve to see alligators, but we had a really hard time finding it and then nobody would go on the trail with me once we finally found it.  So, we ended up skipping that (we did see a couple turtles).

We had lunch back at the resort and spent some time at the pool.  Then Max and I went to Mitchellville beach to find the dolphins and sea stars.  Well, we didn't see either even though that was specifically what that beach is known for.  We did find a lot of interesting stuff along the beach though.  It was low tide, so we got to see the oyster beds up close, lots of hermit crabs, a couple bigger crabs, and a ton of snails.  The coolest thing though, was the horseshoe crabs.  We saw several smaller ones and one huge one.

We headed back to meet up with the others and then went out to dinner at Skull Creek Boathouse.  There was a one hour wait for dinner, so we explored the pier nearby.  We were delighted to find crabs, jellyfish and stingrays in the water.  One of the stingrays was really big.  Maybe it was a manta ray.  Then we started seeing dolphins!  There were several pods that went by.  It was really neat seeing them in the wild.  Guess we didn't get any pictures though...

Day 11 - Fort Sumter and on to Myrtle Beach

We left Hilton Head Island today and headed to Myrtle Beach.  On the way we stopped in Charleston and visited Fort Sumter.

We arrived at Patriot's Point and went through a confusing, but ultimately successful, RV parking situation.  The signs said for RV's and Buses to go to a second entrance, but then when we got there, they said ours was too big and sent us back to the main parking and eventually had us park in the grass.  It wasn't a big deal and it turned out fine, but I'm glad we weren't in a hurry!  After that we bought our ferry tickets which would take us to the fort.  We made some sandwiches and ate while we were waiting the hour until the next ferry.  Also, at Patriot's Point is the Yorktown aircraft carrier.  That would have been interesting also, but we only had time for one thing.

We boarded the ferry which takes about 20 minutes to get to Fort Sumter.  There were bottle-nose dolphins both ways!  The Fort is the site of the first shots of the Civil War.  It was an interesting tour and we all learned things (except Zach who slept through almost the whole thing).  The fort itself has very little to see unfortunately.  The interior and upper levels of the fort were destroyed by being bombarded for 2 years by the Union Army and then the interior of the fort was modernized in the 1900's, before eventually becoming a national monument.  There is a museum in the fort which has interesting information.

After we got back we headed the rest of the way to Myrtle Beach, but our long stop at Fort Sumter caused us to break our cardinal rule of camping - never get to a campground after dark!  We almost made it, but the sun set just before we got to the campground.  We are staying at Lakewood Camping Resort.  This place is huge!  It must have about a million campsites and they are packed in.  To say the sites are small would be a gross exaggeration of their size!  Luckily we picked one of the oceanfront sites, so we are on the end of the row.  This gives us a little more room and is definitely less claustrophobic.    Getting into the site was still tricky mainly because it was dark.  Also, someone was trying to help direct me, but he was very confused and kept telling me backwards.  It was nice of him to try to help, but it really just made it harder.  Anyway, we got into our site and the place looks pretty good so far.  The ocean is right across the street, but the sand dunes (and the indoor pool) block our view of it.  It's nice to hear the ocean though and it saves us like a half hour of walking compared to some of the other sites!  There is a small water park onsite as well, so the kids are looking forward to a day at the beach and water park tomorrow.

Day 12 - Zach Learns to Swim!

We spent most of the day at the campground today.  We spent time at the beach, indoor pool, and the outdoor pool and waterslide area.  It was a perfect day for it - sunny and in the 80's with a breeze.  All of that swimming led to Zach being determined to swim by himself.  He kept trying to dog paddle, but just couldn't keep above water.  Finally, he got tired of trying it that way and decided to just swim underwater and realized he could do that just fine!  He spent a lot of time swimming between Kyrie and the wall or stairs and really got the hang of it.  He was very excited to "finally" be swimming.

The campground cleared out a lot today (Sunday) and we had the pools and water slides mostly to ourselves.  It was a lot of fun.  We have enjoyed this campground a lot and would highly recommend it despite the small sites.  I've heard that the waterpark area is closed on weekdays off-season because of lack of staffing, so keep that in mind.  Also, be aware that it is quite a walk from one end of the campground to the other, so choose your site carefully!

When we done swimming we headed out to see the rest of the Myrtle Beach area.  The area was quite empty this evening with it being off-season and Sunday.   Many shops and attractions are closed for the season.  Looks like a fun area.

We ended up at a shopping/dining/entertainment complex called Broadway at the Beach.  We ate dinner at Paula Dean's restaurant there.  It was delicious food and plenty of it!  We spent the rest of the evening walking through the area.  There were so many different shops and things to do around there - luckily most were closed or we would have never got out of there!  The one thing I probably would have done was the mirror maze, but it was closed too.

Things I've noticed about "The South":
1.  The sweet tea is completely different than the stuff we have at home.
2.  The food is terrific.
3.  The little "no-see-um" bugs are driving me crazy!

Heading back inland tomorrow - Spartanburg, S.C.

Falling behind on the pictures...I'll get some added soon!

Day 13 - Spartanburg, SC

Today we headed to Spartanburg, SC.  We are spending one night there so that Kyrie can speak at Sherman College of Chiropractic tomorrow.  There was quite a deluge of rain towards the end of the drive, but when we got there it was sunny again.  We stayed Cunningham RV Park.  Plenty of room here, but not much else to say about the place.

Day 14 - Drive to Pigeon Forge, TN

After Kyrie's talk, we left for Tennessee.  We had a nice drive through the mountains.  I was a little nervous when we got to the last part where I followed the GPS through the Smokey Mountain Foothills National Park and through back roads for about an hour until we eventually got to Pigeon Forge.  I really need to download a GPS app for trucks so that I stay on the main roads!

We had dinner at our Pigeon Forge favorite, The Old Mill.  Still very good, but after all the other great southern food we've had on this trip, it lost a little of it's appeal.

We're staying at Claddoughs Campground.  It's conveniently located, but again the sites are packed together.  It has a nice playground and the kids love the bouncy pillow to jump on.

Day 15 - Dollywood

Dollywood is one of our favorite theme parks outside of Disney.  The good food and mountain atmosphere are what sets it apart.  We had a good time here today despite the weather being in the 50's and cloudy all day.  We had the park to ourselves and never had to wait to go on any rides.  Zoe and Jacob are the brave ones who went on basically every ride.  Zach let us talk him into going on a couple of smaller roller coasters, but he didn't like them.  Every ride he did like though, he sang a little song throughout the whole thing!  He also loved the bluegrass music playing throughout the park.  He was dancing most of the day.

Day 16 - Mirror Maze/Great Pumpkin Illuminights

We took it kind of easy today.  As you can probably tell from my brief writing, we are getting tired!  Sleeping in an RV is hard as it is, but then when you've got a four year old trying to get in the already small bed - it's really difficult!  He does manage to sleep in his own bunk most of the night, but once or twice a night he finds his way back to our bed.  After I put him back in his bed enough times he finally stays there, but it's no fun trying to get him back in there in my sleep!

We started with vacuuming and cleaning out the van.  After 2 long weeks on the road, the car was ready for it!  I took the kids over to Goats on the Roof since it's so close to the campground.  Always fun!  Then we had lunch (really breakfast) at Crockett's in Gatlinburg.  We did a little shopping around there before heading to The Island (shopping/entertainment complex) to go to the mirror maze.

The mirror maze was great fun as usual.  I always hesitate to spend the money because all these places are the same and it seems so expensive with all 7 of us, but we always have a great time.  We went through the maze many times and still found it difficult.  It was a lot of fun.  At this place they also give you a token for their laser maze when you buy the mirror maze tickets.  This is a small room with laser beams going across it.  You have to try to get to the lit up buttons without touching any of the laser beams.  You're also being timed and ranked based on your score.  This was a lot more fun than I expected.  As the older kids were taking their turns, Zach really wanted to play too, but I figured he was too young to understand the concept.  We let him go in there in between turns and try it out, but he realized it wasn't on and wanted to play it the right way.  So, eventually I let him and he really liked it and did a good job.  It was hilarious watching him crawl under the laser beams and and rush to each light.

After that fun we did some more shopping and then headed to Dollywood for the evening to see their Halloween event - Great Pumpkin Illuminights.  After 6 at night they light up all of these jack-o-lanterns (some real, some not), they have special food items, and a glow maze.  So, the Halloween stuff is fine, but definitely not something to make a special trip for.  The park itself is great on it's own, so definitely go there, but if you've already been there you don't need to make a special trip to see the pumpkins (though there are a LOT of them!)  The glow maze was a joke.  It was just a blacklight walkthru thing that really didn't have anything to it.  They advertised it like it was some special attraction or something, but it was really nothing.  We didn't only tried the fried apple pie (which was good), so I can't really say how good the special food items were.

Before it was dark we went on a few rides.  One of these rides (which I definitely did not go on), was called The Barnstormer.  This is a contraption that basically swings you back and forth until you go nearly vertical upside down.  I don't know exactly why, but this seems like the scariest ride in the park to me (except the tower drop thing - I hate that kind of ride!).  It seems like the barnstormer wouldn't be any scarier than a roller coaster, but it definitely is.  Anyway, I wasn't about to go on that, but Jacob wanted to (he goes on anything) and so did Zoe (6 years old)!  She is a daredevil for sure!  So Kyrie decided to go on there with her (she hadn't seen the ride in action or I think maybe that wouldn't have happened even though Kyrie is brave).  Well, they all survived the ride, but Zoe said she will never go on that ride again and even Jacob agreed that it was the scariest ride he's been on.  After that, Zoe knew she was ready to go on her first upside down roller coaster, so I took her on Tennessee Twister and she loved it.  Even Ella decided to go on that one - she screamed the whole time, but was ready to go on it again when it was over.  Ella goes back and forth about rides, some years she is super brave and other years, not so much.  I guess this is one of her super brave years.  We'll see if she goes on the Mystery Mine ride when we go back tomorrow!

Day 17 - One last day at Dollywood

I've realized that we like camping and we like vacationing, but we have a hard time combining the two.  When we go camping just to go camping we have a lot of fun sitting around the campfire, playing at the campground and doing camping stuff.  When we take our RV on vacations we hardly spend any time in it at all.  Basically we just drag our hotel with us wherever we go.  Since we would require 2 hotel rooms each night it still saves us money to use it (even though we use a lot of gas), but we don't really get the camping experience.  In the future we'll have to plan our RV trips with more down time at each stop, but we're not that good at that.

When we bought our Dollywood tickets online before we left on the trip, it was cheaper to buy 3 days than just to buy 2, so that's why we have been there each day.  Today was our third day, and we were kind of tired of it today.  It was a lot busier today because it's Friday and because they had a Gospel music event going on.

We were still able to go on rides very quickly so we still had a good time.  We didn't get on the wooden coasters last time, so we tried them today.  Thunderhead was fun, but incredibly bumpy.  Lightning Rod is the newest coaster and it's the world's fastest wooden coaster.  I went on it with Jacob and Zoe.  We didn't know what to expect because we didn't see the ride going before we got on it.  It has a very tall, very steep lift hill.  So when we got to that part we figured we'd have a long slow ride to the top - we were wrong!  Basically when we got to the bottom of the hill it launched us straight up and never stopped for us to catch our breath.  Zoe was screaming like crazy.  It doesn't quite go upside down, but it does go quite sideways and super fast.  Jacob said it was scarier than Barnstormer, but I'm not so sure about that (not that I would know).  It was fun, but completely unexpected.

Tomorrow we start heading back home.  If we stop anywhere interesting, I'll write about it, but this might be the last post.  We figure we'll drive home over two days.  It's been a really fun trip and it has flown by.  It feels like just yesterday I was driving the kids to Nashville!  We packed a lot into this trip, as usual, but it actually was kind of a relaxed trip.  Partially because we had the long stop in Hilton Head.  My favorite things were seeing the manatees and dolphins unexpectedly, the food at Miss Wilkes, and definitely the Mystery House in Cave City!  Least favorite was for sure the unexpectedly long drive from Nashville to Atlanta!  Looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again soon...

I'll add pictures when we get back!