We had decided that we wanted this to be more of a relaxing vacation, so we didn't plan much for the week...except for this. White rafting! Tom and I had been once before when we went to Colorado last year and Tom really liked it, so we put the idea out to the group. Although my brother, his girlfriend and my younger sister opted out, the six of us had a great time. We went over one Class III rapid and four Class IV rapids. The best part, though, is what my family affectionately calls the "Instant Mood Booster"...
When going white water rafting, the guide tells you to tuck your feet in to stabilize yourself while rowing and help prevent falling out of the raft in rough waters. Welp, DD was so locked in that when she fell out, she couldn't fall out all the way because her one foot was stuck! And while she's swinging outside the raft by one leg, there's really nothing any of us to do because it's nearly impossible to pull somebody up by one wet, slippery leg. My nephew Andre, sitting in front of her, couldn't turn around to help her because he, too, was so locked in that he couldn't free himself quickly. Luckily, after what felt like 20 minutes to us, swinging round and round watching DD dangle by one leg, the other leg finally came loose and Mr. Miyagi (aka Dad) was able to pull her in.
For us Floridians, it seems like summer brings humid days, hot nights and millions of mosquitoes. But it also brings 85 degree Gulf temps (a lovely temperature to swim and cool off in the summer heat!), festivals every weekend and more daylight to spend with friends and family.
I love sharing information about muscles and skin care, but it seems like my posts get more clicks when I share personal information. It is very interesting to me because being in massage therapy and esthetics, my job is a sweet blend of health care and personal/customer service. We are taught in school that, as therapists, everything is about the client and to refrain from being too personal or sharing too much personal information. However, I have learned over the years, especially since moving here to Panama City, that things in my industry are not always black and white. People and situations are not black and white; instead they come in all shades of beauty. So in response to that beauty, I've decided to blur the lines and share some of my summer fun with you all!
White water rafting day also happend to be my nephew's birthday and he chose to do an Escape Room for his birthday. Nine of us in one room trying to find and figure out clues, you never know how that will work out...but I now have full confidence in my family to pull together if we were ever in a crisis. What a blast that was!
The next day, we took a trip to Pigeon Forge (about 20 minutes away) to go grocery shopping. Apparently, that is hard work because we had to stop at the Hard Rock Cafe to grab some lunch! Oh, and we had to stop at the Christmas store. I thought it was going to be this tiny little shop with some ornaments, but I don't think I could have been more wrong. If you are ever in Pigeon Forge, I highly recommend stopping by the store, it's almost like a little Christmas village!
If I asked you about the funny quirky things about your father, I bet we could laugh together and share funny stories. After my father made it to the cabin, I go into his room to grab a roll of paper towels and this is what I see. Isn't this where everybody keeps their shoes? No? Yeah, me neither. He turned 61 this year, so I guess this is his defense against "out of sight, out of mind". Hahahaha!
Since we got out of Ober Gatlinburg much later than we anticipated, we decided to make another trip to Gatlinburg the next day to see more of the sights. One of the first things we did was go into the Guiness World Records Adventure. The whole place is interactive and it was so much more fun than I could have imagined! After spending a couple of hours there, we headed down the strip to take a look at the other stores and attractions. We stopped by the Pancake Pantry for lunch - delicious! Despite the forecast, it was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed strolling along the strip at our leisure and stopping at all the cute stores.
And like all vacations, it came to an end way too quickly!
We definitely enjoyed the relaxation part of it: sitting on the balcony enjoying the quiet with a cup of coffee, breakfast and dinners at "home", watching the sunsets from the rocking chairs, friendly tournaments of pool and ping pong. Then there's the funny parts: Dad dazzling us with his unpacking methods, DD keeping herself from being swept away in the river by only one foot, hearing the gasps and pants and seeing the red faces of those who decided to get some exercise and go for a walk (we were on a mountain, guys!), retelling our most favorite childhood memories from various points of view and the hundreds of takes for our spontaneous mannequin challenge due to operator malfuncttion of the phone. And everything in between. When you only see your family every other year, each moment together is a precious gift. Actually, whether you see your family every other year or every year or every day, appreciate the time you get to spend with them.
MUSIC: We are Family by Sister Sledge
** I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS MUSIC **
The next day we all got up lazily, had our breakfast and talked about taking one of they gondolas that take you up the mountain. We decided to go to Ober Gatlinburg, which sounded like a great idea...it started off great. We got on the gondola, saw Gatlinburg, saw the area that was destroyed by the fire in November and then were amazed when we got to the end that it was it's own mini amusement park There were stores, kids rides, an ice skating rink, a wildlife/mini zoo area, a mountain coaster and a mountain tobagan. Of course, the first thing we did was grab a snack because eating is kind of our thing. We wanted to do the mountain tobaggan and right when we got to the top, we overheard the worker's radio say that there was weather coming over the mountain. We rode our tobaggan down (pretty cool ride!) and then headed to the wildlife center. We got to see them feed the cute little otters. And then...the storm came. No big deal, right? Right. Unless you're on the top of a mountain, they shut down the gondola and they tell you they will shuttle people down. And by shuttle, they mean one of those small hotel buses that fit about 10 people at a time. So what started off as a fun day ended with a two hour wait to get back down the mountain. Boo!
Although my dad was supposed to arrive on Sunday with the rest of us, an unforeseen airline-induced delay in seeing my stepmother and half-brother on the plane to Korea for their yearly trip, he wasn't able to get to the cabin until Tuesday afternoon. So with the morning free, we decided to go explore. Tom, my older sister and I decided to go for a hike on the Alum Cave Nature Trail while my brother, his girlfriend, my sister, her girlfriend and my nephew went indoor skydiving. Oh, and I know you can't see it since we are sitting in this picture, nor do you have a before picture to compare, but doesn't my sister DD look great?! She has worked incredibly hard and has lost 112 pounds over the last two years!
Every other year, me and my siblings (and our significant others) go on a vacation with our father. This year's destination was Gatlinburg, TN based on the great reviews we've read, the fun things we've heard about it from friends who had gone and the driveability for everyone as we're spread out in four states. We looked at houses on Home Away and VRBO and decided on a beautiful cabin in Sevierville that boasted the greatest view of Wears Valley. I have to say that all the hype about the area is justified!
We picked a great cabin location and the views were definitely the best, especially of the sunsets as you can see in the picture above. It was spacious, it had a balcony on all three levels, a grill on the middle level and a hot tub on the lower level. In between the two bedrooms on the lower level, there was a game room with a pool table and a ping pong table.