Smokies Day 1

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Thursday after work we rushed to grab the last few items and toss them on top of the rest of our gear in the van. We changed clothes grabbed drinks and hit the road. We got started at 4:35, only 5 minutes later then I was planning for. Traffic was busy but moving along well.

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I drove the 2 hours to Columbia. We had picked out a big playground and a big play place before we left. It was really hot out so we headed to the playplace. It was a pretty dirty McDonalds but the kids had fun and the food was acceptable.

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We played and ate for a while and tried to tire the kids out then got back on the road. Heath took over driving, I read and the kids watched part of Lion King. At 9 or so we turned off the movie and got ready for bed. Heath drove until 1:30 with a stop for gas somewhere in the middle. I got some sleep and felt pretty good when we switched. She had listened to comedy on Pandora and only woke me up to her laughing a few times. I put on my audio book and started driving. Everyone else slept and my drive went quick. Pumpkin woke up at like 5:30 and looked at all the crazy tourist buildings outside of Gatlinburg but she fell back to sleep after about 40 minutes. Just before 7:30 we got to the parking lot at Clingmans Dome.

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Pumpkin and Bean both woke up when we stopped and Peanut got up as I was getting them out of the car. The girls ran around the empty parking lot and checked out the mountains and fog.

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Peanut joined us and we wondered around some more. We were too excited to wait and after a few gallop races we decided to get Heath up and start our half mile hike to the summit.

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It was a nice paved trail that cut right across the Appellation Trail. It was steep and a little damp but not bad. The dampness prevented us from sitting down to take a rest.

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The peak was really coo. We got to climb  up to a little viewing station that looked like it belonged on Star Wars.

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There was a long curving ramp to get up.

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You may have guessed from the pictures so far the view from the top was no good because the Smokies were smoky… or foggy. We were in the clouds and could see them moving through us.

Everyone was pretty hungry so we hiked down a bit of the way then got off the paved trail onto part of the Appellation trail and found a great spot for breakfast. We boiled water and made oatmeal and coffee.

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We also had some fruit and crackers.  It was a nice little meal.

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Then we hiked down the rest of the way and got back in the van. We drove to the Sugarlands Visitor Center and got there just in time to fill up our water bottles and go on a ranger led hike to cascade waterfall.  We were with a big big group but had a great ranger. Our kids stuck right up front by him and he talked a lot about the trees and plants and animals that were in the area or just off the trail.

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Peanut really liked the plants that had medicinal uses or interesting stories.

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The falls were cool but too crowded to get real excited about.

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Also we were getting hungry. We hiked back to the car and drove over to a pick nick area. It was only like 80F out but really humid. All the tables in the shade we could find were full so we kept going and tried out a group area. It was totally deserted and right by a creek so we took over.

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We cut summer sausage and cheese and put them on crackers. We ate some yogurt and granola and other snacks. After lunch we dipped our feet in the water a bit then moved on.

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We drove on towards our campsite. We had kind of a long drive to the site and the girls rested some. Just before we reached the Cosby Campground I realized somehow I reserved both my campsites for Saturday and none for Friday. The rangers that checked us in said it was no problem we could just pick any unreserved site at no cost. We found the ultimate spot.

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We had no neighbors, a giant wooded spot, a pile of firewood ready and a nice little stream running behind the tent pad. Everyone was excited and pitched in to set up and then start playing.

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We brought the kids bikes and there was no traffic so they rode up and down the road. Peanut put some beers in the creek for us and they cooled down. We got the site set up really nice then packed away anything with a scent that may attract bears and went for a walk.

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We found a few other campers and a trail head. We hiked a little more than ½ a mile and found a cool bridge and a cool swimming hole.

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We thought about swimming but decided we still had to start a fire and cook dinner so decided to hurry back instead.Peanut and I got a bit wet checking things out.

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We took a different way back and then the kids played and Heath and I jumped to work on the fire and our dinner.

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The firewood turned out to be really wet and really green. We made the best of it and actually got a bit of a smoky fire going.

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Dinner was awesome we made sweet and sour chicken on Ramon noodles.

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We had a little burner and cooked it all in 1 pot. It was pretty sweet and the kids gobbled it up. We didn’t want any leftovers so after the kids were full Heath and I stuffed the rest into our bellies somehow. Heath built up the fire and I washed the dishes then we hung out by the fire and cooked up some smores.

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It was a long day and we were all pretty beat but it was still early and light out. We heard some claps of thunder and then it started to rain so we made the easy choice of hopping into bed. We put on the 2nd half of Lion King for the kids and Heath and I passed out right away while the kids watched in bed. The rain stopped right away and the kids watched then woke up Heath when it was over. They put up a little resistance of going to bed but I was out to hard to hear any of it.

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