Summer Fun With My Family!
By Rachelle Siegrist
My family’s greatly anticipated visit took place this past week, and as always, I can’t believe it’s already come and gone!!! They arrived last Saturday night, and we started having fun right away with enjoying dessert! Sunday we headed into nearby Metcalf Bottoms picnic area inside the Smokies, where our dear, long time family friends, Dallas and his mom, Brenda, met us for lunch and a wonderful visit. There was a lot of catching up to do, while we also enjoyed spending time playing in the river. Much of our time was spent throwing rocks, trying to knock strategically placed rocks off of a log lying across the stream.
It was a beautiful morning, and after a late afternoon rain shower ended, my Brother Marshall, Dad, Nephew Tyler and I jumped onto our bikes and started our ride around the 11-mile bike path here in Townsend. We met the rest of the family at the halfway point which was Pizza Hut, for a yummy supper. We finished the remainder of our relaxing ride afterwards, riding to the single lane bridge at the end of town and back home.
Tyler and I took a walk on the swinging bridge, during one of our sightseeing stops along the way. We finished up that evening with roasting marshmallows over the fire pit in the backyard and making yummy s’mores!
Our van loaded with tubes, Monday morning we headed to the Wye located on the Little River nearby. It was a gorgeous morning as all but two of us mounted up and started our journey tubing downstream. Squeals could be heard miles away as the frigid water hit our backsides and splashed up onto our bellies while going down the rapids! Everyone had a great time, and Tyler did awesome while having a blast floating down with Uncle Wes holding onto his tube! He wasn’t sure about it however, when he heard the sound of rushing water from an upcoming cascade, and bad Uncle Wes told him was a 20-foot waterfall! Wes quickly told him he was joking though, and Tyler went on like a real champ! Most of us had so much fun that we did it all over again!
Tuesday morning we headed over to Sweetwater to visit The Lost Sea. We stopped at Look Rock Tower during our drive through the Foothills Parkway, to take the kids up the spiraling cement walkway, so they could walk to the “top of the mountain!” They absolutely loved being so high up and able to see such a long ways in almost every direction!
The next stop was the Mayfield Dairy, where we all choose our favorite flavors of very fresh and scrumptious ice cream and enjoyed eating it outside. Several members of our group made a mess and ended up wearing almost as much as was eaten . . . kindly, I won’t mention any names! Of course seeing the HUGE Mayfield cow, Maggie, was a highlight as well!
Leaving there we drove the short distance to The Lost Sea. Having spare time while waiting for out tour to begin, everyone enjoyed watching the glass blower and the kids really enjoyed sifting through the bag of dirt which granny had gotten for them, while looking for gemstones. They both found a nice amount of treasured gems, and had a ball doing so!
Then the greatly anticipated time finally arrived and we got in line for our journey into the earth! Tyler and Haydyn were first in line and excitedly ready to enter the cave by walking through the long yellow tunnel.
Everyone really enjoyed the hike through the cave and the entertainingly funny guide made it even better! We saw several really neat cave formations and certain ones that are only found in a few caves in the world. Crystal Falls was very pretty and the kids thought it was really cool to have a waterfall underground! Of course we ended up at the highlight of the cave visit, the Lost Sea. There we loaded boats and enjoyed a ride around the frigid, crystal clear lake while watching the numerous huge trout coming to eat the treats being tossed to them. Before long we had returned to the entrance and the kids decided that was “Awesome” with the rest of us completely agreeing!
Early Wednesday morning, Dad, Marshall, Tyler and I drove the scenic drive into nearby Cades Cove. There we mounted our bikes and started our 11-12 mile ride around the loop road, which is closed to vehicles until 10 AM, Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer months. I absolutely love riding my bike around Cades Cove, and was thrilled to finally have my Dad, Marshall and Tyler all doing it with me for the first time!
Everyone was all smiles and we had a ball, especially going downhill, as we went along taking in the gorgeous scenery, while enjoying the immense peace of it all! We saw numerous White-tailed deer and turkey, as well as the beautiful resident horses.
Unfortunately we missed seeing the mamma Black Bear with her 4 cubs, which we were told about later. Tyler rode it like a champ, but decided by the end that he was ready to just ride down the mountains! It was a great morning and we made it home in time to enjoy lunch with the rest of the family.
After lunch we decided to head back to the river to cool off a bit! Loaded up with tubes, snorkel gear and the inflatable boat, which Wes and I found and patched during one of our many bike rides around town, we drove to our favorite spot on the river, and were delighted to have it all to ourselves! We tubed down the cascades, and even Haydyn went down a few times while riding with her daddy! My Mom took photos of it all, since she isn’t fond of the icy cold water.
Several of us put on our masks and snorkels and looked for fish beneath the cold water while floating on our bellies on the tubes, or did what Wes and I call “hillbilly snorkeling”. It’s great fun and as usual we saw a lot of neat fish and one very big trout! Finally Marshall and I got very brave and went completely in the water and were then really able to see a lot of cool stuff!
The kids had a blast while Uncle Wes and their dad took turns pulling them around in the inflatable boat! Tyler even laid on the upside down boat and snorkeled for awhile with his mask-adorned face in the water, while Wes pulled him around, which he really liked! My Dad even got to see a big crawfish crawling along the bottom of the river! Alicia also enjoyed tagging along while Wes pulled, and occasionally fell into the water! Obviously, Wes didn’t get hot all afternoon!
We ended the wonderful day with pizza on the screen porch and making more s’mores for dessert! The next morning Tyler and Haydyn drew and made new artwork to adorn the front of our fridge, while the rest of us packed and loaded the bikes for our short trip to Abingdon, VA, where we rode bikes on the Virginia Creeper Trail Friday. I’ll be posting photos and stories from that great adventure next time!
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Until next time . . .