The Ricks Family

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vacation Day 3

September 12, 2012

Today our day started very similar to yesterday. We woke, ate breakfast, got dressed, then packed our lunch boxes for the day. We loaded in the car and made our way to Pigeon Forge, TN.

We made it to Wonderworks around 11:00am. We spent several hours inside playing. We shot hoops at the basketball game and hit balls at the baseball virtual field. We had the best time! We played on a large Google Earth's map and found our house. Mike and I went on this bicycle that you pedal and it makes you go upside down. The faster you pedal the faster you go. It was awesome. :)

We felt what is was like to go through an earthquake and tornado. Then we had a competition to see who could keep their hand in the water that was the same temperature of the water that the Titanic went down in. Wesley went first, he kept his hand in for 48 seconds. Jon next, he held out for about 10. Renee racked up a whole 3 seconds. Mike pretty much stuck his hand in and pulled it right back out. I think he might have made a second. I went next, when I stuck my hand in it was freezing, nothing like I have ever felt before. As I left it in trying to win, it started stinging like thousands of bees and didn't stop. About the 8 second mark I had to pull my hand out. Then Mike and I were wondering how Wesley could do it for so long and it not bother him. Then we thought maybe we should take him to the doctor and have them look at that, because that can't be normal. :)

In one of the rooms, they have a 4 story ropes course. You strap into a harness and walk 4 stories in a dark room lit with neon lights. You walk on metal grating so you can see through the holes. Mike wanted to go, but none of the kids did. It bummed me out because I really wanted to do it, but didn't want to go alone. Then we were able to talk the kids in to it. YAY! So we strapped up, took a picture, and started upward. The line was Wesley, Mike, Jon, Renee, and me. We got about 10 feet in the air and Renee gave up. She wanted to turn around. Jon, Mike and Wesley had made it to the first platform where you had to walk across this plank to the next platform. Jon made it across and it was Wesley's turn. He wanted none of it and turned around and came to me. At this point, I am trying to balance on a step 10 feet in the air and help 2 scared kids find their way as they cling onto me. Jon quit and came back across the plank to get down. I help him, too. Mike continued on the course without us. We finally stepped down on level ground and were relieved. I was kinda glad the kids backed out, I guess I forgot that I am scared of heights, but I am sure glad the kids reminded me. So while Mike wound his way through the course above our heads, we played games and looked at some of the space equipment.

After about 2 1/2 hours we called it quits and went to the car. We found our lunch boxes and ate lunch as we were driving the strip looking for places to shop for souvenirs. After we were full we went to a few shops. Everyone wanted a black bear because of yesterday. :) And backscratchers (okay??? not sure what we will do with these). After each child used their own money that we had already pulled out of their piggy banks and paid, we looked for the taffy shop. You cannot go to TN and not get taffy! It is one of the rules. You should look it up. :) We found this really cool outdoor mall. We parked the car and walked to the closest candy store. The kids found some metal tins that you fill with taffy and pay one set price. So that is what they decided on. They jammed as many pieces in their tin as they could fit. Again, this time, one by one they paid but it was with some money Nana had given them. (Thank you Nana). The next shop was a cooking shop. They had all kinds of spices, jams, batters and cookie mixes. The kids and myself got bored really quick. So we left Mike inside and we and sat on the steps to eat some more taffy. :)

Tonight, we went to the Dixie Stampede. I remember always doing this as a child and I wanted to share that same memory with my family. We changed our outfits and headed inside (without the camera). We bought the souvenir mugs with our tickets to save money. We had them filled and took a seat to watch the pre show. Same as I remember, a 3 person country group who performed all the favorites. I watched as the kids laughed at their jokes, clapped off beat, and sang to the songs they knew. Then it was time for the show. We gathered our things, looked at the tickets to see where to go and headed to the front, yes I said FRONT, row. Of course we bought the picture they had us take in the beginning and the flags too. We have to cheer on our team. GO SOUTH!!! :) It wasn't long after we sat down that I remembered all the times coming here as a child with my parents and siblings- watching the same show, eating the same meal. Then it hit me, and my eyes started to well up. Mike had a little laugh at my expense and we continued on with our evening. :) We watched the show and ate our meal…with our hands. On the first competition the South won. They threw a flower right at Wesley! He caught it. He was given one of only 2 flowers handed out. He was so proud.

It was an incredible day, an emotional evening, and I wouldn't change any of it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vacation Day 2

September 11, 2012

Mike and I woke up to little pitter patter of footsteps upstairs on the hard wood floor. When we went into their room they were in on of the walk in closets. This closet has a door that is only 3 feet tall. Inside is a whole room, it is probably 5 feet wide by about 10 feet long. They called it a hidden room. They loved switching on the light and just playing in there.

We got dressed for the day and started breakfast. It was a nice and cool morning so we ate in the rocking chairs outside on the wrap around porch. While out there soaking in the view of the mountains we had a little school lesson. It was on American History. :) We learned all about 9/11 and what that means. What are military men are fighting for right now. And just how great of a country we have. So easily we take for granted our freedom.

After breakfast we loaded our lunch boxes with lots of yummies and headed out for the day. Todays destination: Cades Cove National Park, located in Tennessee. Our mission: to see a bear. Everyone told us we would not see one. That they have went several times and have never come across one. It is a very rare thing to see. We didn't care. We had a mission. :) Renee kept asking Mike why he bought a knife and he told her in case he came across a bear.

It was going to be a long drive through the mountains. We were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for was all the twist and turns and my car sickness. I felt horrible. I had to keep turning the air on full blast so that I could get over the hot spells. Poor Mike had his jacket in the back of the car and he was freezing…and laughing at how ridiculous it seemed.

A movie, many more  OOOO'ssss and AAAHHH'ssss, and some activity kit fun and we made the 2.5 hour journey. Just in time for a bathroom break. We got back in the car and headed for our first trail. While driving to it with the windows down we opened our lunch boxes and devoured as much as we could. It was going to be a high impact day of walking.

Our first stop was on the way to the trail. Right off the road was a group of horses. We stopped and watched for a minute, took a couple pictures, and headed on. We made it to our first trail. It lead us to a old house. One large room downstairs. And a small room upstairs. Wow, how blessed we are. We hiked back to the car for the next stop. This went on for a couple of hours. Stopping, hiking, looking, and traveling again. On our last trail we decided to go see a waterfall. The trail arrow said it was .8 miles. Ok…we can do that. Along the way we stopped to take some pictures in the open field. We even spotted some deer that were feeding. They walked right past us on the trail. Only about 5 feet away. It was awesome. We made it to another sign that showed us the way to get to the waterfall. Only thing was, it said 3 miles. Huh…the first sign said only .8. Then we figured it out. It was .8 to get to the trail of the waterfall. Yay. Go us. We just walked all this way to see another sign. :) At that point we were determined to see this waterfall. We told the kids to hold on tight we were going on a hunt. We walked as fast as we could to make it to the waterfall. After about an hour and not making a ton of progress we decided to regroup. "If it took us 30 minutes a mile that would be 1.5 hours. Then we have to come back at another 1.5 hours. It is 3:00…Yeah we need to turn around" Although now we are 1.8 miles from the car and it is quicker to walk on the side of the road to the car than going back through the trails. (Thank you Mr. Park Ranger for this brilliance. Where were you an hour ago when we decided to walk to the sign?!?) Jon and I ran a little faster than Mike and the little ones. We made it to the car first and saw them about .2 miles away just waiting for us at the bottom of the incline. :) We picked them up and headed out of the park. Our hiking days are over. :)

As we headed out of the park we got stuck in a traffic jam with cars pulled over and everyone standing on the side of the road. What is going on? They are looking at the tree. What is in it? A BEAR. "Pull the car over a bear. There is a bear in the tree" We parked the car in the line with everyone else and walked to where people were gathered. It was about 100 yards from the bear. We watched him knocking the food out of the tree limb by limb. After just a short amount of time he headed down to gather his earnings. At that point the kids started to panic. Jon asked "Hey dad, where is our car". Mike pointed behind us to our car about 10 feet away. Renee yells "Daddy, do you have your knife? You gonna stab him? You going to stab him in the back? Cut his throat? Daddy you said you were going to stab a bear." I quietly walked away and acted like I belonged to another family that was standing near by. He gets to handle that one on his own. :) Not really. Although he did settle her down and laughed it off. It was funny. I couldn't stop laughing. She will definitely keep you on your toes. We watched for a short time and decided we were bored. And hungry for a snack. And tired. We grabbed our lunch boxes again and started the travel back home…once Mike had zipped up his jacket.

Once arriving back in the little town of Franklin, NC we decided to go out to eat again tonight. (Even though we brought stuff to cook dinner. We were just too tired to do the cooking.) We went to another place we were told about. It was a local steakhouse. It was yummy. The kids almost feel asleep while waiting for their food. Wesley wasn't feeling real good. Turns out he gets car sick too. :) Yay, I'm not alone in this car sick world. ("How could anyone ever wish for their child to be sick". I know that is terrible to say, I only said it for the shock on your face :)

We pulled in to the cabin, showered up, said our prayers for the night, and went fast to sleep for another adventure tomorrow.