Well, we're back from a wonderful vacation at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I thought over the next several posts that I would share some photos from our trip and some of our experiences. Yes, dear readers, I am going to venture into yet another type of writing: the travelogue. Of course, these posts have nothing to do with Orthodoxy. This would fit into the "life in this crazy 21st century world" category. I hope you enjoy this new series.
Before this year, Jennifer and the kids and I had not been on a real family vacation since the year 2000. Of course, that means that Beth and Christine NEVER had! When we last went on a real vacation, we were living in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and we visited Salzburg, Austria. We hadn't been on vacation in the U.S. since 1998. Since 2000, we either haven't had the time or the money (often neither). This year, thanks be to God, we finally had both.
Because it had been so long since we had been on vacation, we were rusty. We had forgotten a lot about how to prepare for a vacation. This meant that we had to go back to the basics.
In my opinion, the first thing you must do in preparing for a vacation is to decide what exactly you hope to accomplish on the trip. Then you can decide where exactly you will go. Do you want to visit historical sites, visit museums, take in a lot of shows and rides, do a lot of "kidsy" things, spend time in the great outdoors, or a combination of these things? When we first started planning our trip over a year ago, we were going to make it all about the kids. I suggested Disneyworld, but Jennifer never was very interested in this option. Later, we decided upon San Antonio. There are a lot of things to do there, including Sea World, Fiesta Texas (an amusement park kind of like Six Flags), the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and more. This was our working plan for several months.
But when Jennifer was growing up, her parents often took her and her siblings hiking and camping in the woods. On one trip, they had traveled as far as the Smoky Mountains. Jennifer has fond memories of both that trip and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park itself. What's more, Jennifer and I had once passed through the Smokies on a trip from South Carolina to Texas. After taking in the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, we vowed to return one day and to actually spend some time there. These memories, combined with our love for nature (and hiking in it) and our lack of love for the Texas summer heat, made us decide to ditch our plans to visit another big, hot, crowded Texas city and head for the mountains!
Looking at pictures like the following didn't hurt, either:
Of course, we didn't see this EXACT picture, since we took it on the trip. But you get the picture.
So, the Smokies it was! But where would we stay?