Vacation 2018 Part 1: Bandits in the Smokies

This year’s family vacation brought an entirely new adventure.  We not only had our immediate family of 6 (my parents, Katie, Aaron, Mike and I), but we had a multigenerational extended family vacation that included grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, too.  We made it a family vacation and a celebration of PopPop’s 80th birthday.  Some of us flew, some drove, but we all managed to get to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for several days of family, fun, and food.   


Mike and I started our trip early to the airport in Austin, where we would be flying to St. Louis and meeting up with Aunt Sallie and Bryan.  From there, we would all fly to Nashville and drive to Gatlinburg.  Our plans got delayed a bit by weather all over the country and both of our flights ended up being delayed.  This allowed us plenty of time to lunch in Austin and later have a toasted ravioli snack at the St. Louis airport Pasta House.  We got a much later start on the road than we had originally expected.  We loaded up our luggage and headed for Gatlinburg with Sallie as our captain. 


Normally, the drive would have been beautiful, but the sun did not shine and it rained or tried to rain nearly the entire trip, starting with our road trip to Gatlinburg.  We enjoyed DJ Bryan introducing us to new music, rocking out to 90’s hits, and several car games.  No road trip would be complete without a misturn at some point (in our case, heading to Chic Fil-a) and taking much longer than originally anticipated.  Every time we checked, it seemed like we were still pretty far from our destination.  We may have forgotten that there was a time change between Nashville and Gatlinburg, but that car ride lasted forever.  As it got darker, our driver got a bit restless and very slap happy.  It’s a rare thing, but our driver kept asking if we “were there yet?”  We finally got to the “strip” area that connects Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg, stopping for a much needed donut treat before making our way to more mountainous area.   


We managed to get to the property management office for our rental home, but got a little twisted around before reaching our destination of “Eight is Enough.”  It was dark and we were tired when we finally arrived.  As we pulled in, we were greeted by PopPop, Teresa, Mom, Dad, Dan, Sue, Dave and Tammy, who all stayed up to see us.  We went to our assigned rooms and were ready to hit the sheets, so we would be well rested for the next day’s adventures.