Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Summer Vacation - With Pics :)

Well, it wasn't *my* summer vacation, but *our* summer vacation and 3rd annual one with the Gamble family. I had a great time last week on our trip down to the Gatlinburg, TN area and the Great Smoky Mountains and I think the rest of the family did as well.

We had a bizarre happening on the drive down, we're driving along I-75 south in Southern Ohio, about 3 hours into our journey, when this big ole Jethro-stye Dodge extended-super-extended-king-extended cab pickup truck pulls up alongside of us a honkin' and honkin' away with the occupants a hootin' and a hollerin' away at us and makin all kinds of ruckus! I thought we done run over their pet 'possum or sumptin' with all the fuss they was a makin'! I look over at the passenger in the frontof the "I'm a Man's Man pickup truck" and it's no other than our friend Tami Sue Evans and the rest of the Evans clan, big-daddyTroy Boy, Ben Bob, and Brandon Bob!

They were on their way down to Nashville for Ben Bob to go to a Christian *I'm A Rock Star* music camp so he could teach the pros a thing or two on a drum set. We ended up hookin' up with the Evans family, along with our co-vacationing friends, the Gamble family, and stopping at a Sonic in Georgetown, KY cause none of us had ever been to one. We see commercials for them ALL the time and all of us have wanted to go there, but oddly enough, we don't have a one of 'em anywheres near us! So the below pic is of all the giddy Michiganders at their first visit to a Sonic restaurant. Hey, we Michiganders get excited about simple things after a long, cold, snowy, hard winter! I loved the Cherry Limeade and the Black Raspberry Sprite. It was definitely a hit with the whole crew.
Below is a pic of our condo accomodations in Servierville, TN. The 3 bedroom and 2 bath condo was more than comfortable and served our 2 families well for the week.
It didn't take too long into our vacation before Tammy was doing her *Party Boy* dance on the coffee table in the living room of the condo. She was loose and ready for a good time. Editor's note: the editor joined her as well on the table for a rousing dance to Baby Bash featuring T-Pain's *Cyclone*, but the editor regrets he is unable to master the ability to dance on a coffee table with his hot wife and take pictures at the same. Notice the look that 8 year-old Rachel is giving the, *ahem*, mature dancers.
Monday we spent exploring Cade's Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Below is a pic of a grassy meadow and the mountains in the background. I just loved the natural beauty that surrounded us as you'll see more of below.
We were very fortunate to have seen several black bear while in the park that week and below is a pic of the first one that we saw in Cade's Cove. I was about 150 yards away from the bear. It was mulling around a lone, big oak tree in the middle of a grassy meadow when I got the pic. It had just been standing on it's rear legs looking up the tree right before I took the pic below. Not quick enough on the shutter button. The last bear we saw, which I was not able to get a pic of because I was driving, was a sow and her two cubs! How cool!
After exploring Cade's Cove on foot and by car, we went for a horseback ride through the mountains. It was awesome.

The pic below is of $5.00, or... 5 bucks. I know... lame. But hey, that's what they are. I was amazed by the number of deer we saw in the park, especially the number of bucks. Their antlers/horns - I forget which is which - were still in velvet. I bet Elvis would be jealous of the bucks in velvet.
Our second time around Cade's Cove we stopped at the trail to Abram Falls and I suckered everyone, including awesome 8 year-old Rachel, into taking the 5 mile round-trip trek back to the falls. This was no easy hike either as the terrain was tough, some steep, rocky inclines and declines, poor footing - just ask Kim and the flats she was wearing on her feet - and quite a distance. I felt it was well worth it for a view of the falls below.

Tammy, the girls, and I kicked around Gatlinburg for a day enjoying the tram to Ober Gatlinburg, riding the alpine slide, and browsing all the shops in town, and of course dining at Bennett's Barbeque. Below are pics of Tammy and I - sporting the ever-trendy plaid shorts that my loving family got me for Father's Day in the ever vain effort to keep me *hip*, Tammy and the girls, and the girls and I, on a bridge over a mountain stream in town.

Recognize Tammy's shirt below, Zoomy?

Beauties... with the beast.

Below is the lovely view of the mountains we had from our balcony.

What vacation would be complete without total restaurant gluttony? I, of course, speak for myself. The kids had a wonderful dinner at Corky's Barbeque one evening. I say the kids because the parents had eaten too late - and too much - a lunch at the Apple Barn Restaurant earlier that afternoon to eat an actual dinner that evening as well. Though we did have some sides and barbequed shrimp. Below Lindsey is enjoying a taste from her small rack of ribs.

And, how dare I take a pic of Chels while she's eating... or ever for that matter. Getting the evil parent eye from my beautiful daughter below. I love her anyway. She doesn't think so, she thinks I was just put here to ruin her life, but I really do love her... a lot! Even if I am *stupid*
Below is more natural beauty from the National Park. The picture below reminds me of some of the settings in "The Lord of the Rings" movies.

A mountain stream in the Greenbriar area of the park below.

A small mountain-side runoff flowing eventually to a mountain stream in the Roaring Fork trail area below.
I don't know what these flowers are, but found them to be very pretty nestled amongst all the surrounding greenery of the mountain-side.

We even saw some reptilian natural beauty. We were checking out some old homestead cabins and outbuildings along the Twin Creeks Trail when near 11 year-old Emily said she saw a snake move near some rocks. I went over and didn't see the snake she said she saw, but did discover this Copperhead snake on a rock above the area of Emily's spied snake - which I did see when I returned to the site a little later, it was an Eastern Rat snake which slithered quickly back under the rock it had re-emerged from.

We really had a wonderful time on vacation and also spent some great times swimming and hanging out by the pool and in the hot tub, playing ping pong and pool in the game room, riding go-carts, shopping, and eating... and eating, and eating... But, as well all know, all good things must come to an end. One last stunning mountain sunset view from our balcony.


Kirsten said...

What an awesome vacation--fantastic photos, too! I love that snake one...snakies are cool. Did you try to grab it by the tail a la Steve Irwin?


Glad you all had a great time and made it back safely.

Oh, and did Linds manage to eat that entire plate of ribs? Wowsers!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update! so proud that we made the blog! Can I get a copy of the pic at SONIC?
very fun about the jethro extended truck!
tami sue

Sara said...

This post cracks me up!! Love the pictures!! You have such a great family with so much spirit. Glad to hear you all had a great vacation. And Sonic rocks!

Rick said...

K ~ Linds did NOT eat all of the ribs. She was instructed *by her father, cough - cough* to go ahead and order the full rack so she could share with others *cough - her father - cough*.

No, I made no attempt at the snake by the tail ala Steve Irwin gig. While I don't have a phobia of snakes and will handle and touch them, I will not go on the offensive with them to do so... especially when they are venomous.

Did you recognize Tammy's shirt?

Glad you enjoyed the post, Tami Sue. I thought you might find it *ahem*, light-hearted, as it was intended to be. I will most certainly send along that pic, as well as some other good ones from Sonic, to you via e-mail.

So great to hear from you, Sara! How's my FAVORITE attorney? Having a good summer, I hope. ;)
Thanks for the kind comments on the post and the fam... though they don't hear it enough directly from me... I think they're pretty special too.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures and narratives, Rick! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

The last anonymous was me. Couldn't wend it any other way.
Love ya, Mom

Denise said...


I love he pictures. It looks like you guys had a great time.

I want to apologize for not getting back to you about Cassy's surprise package. We both cried and laughed. She was soo excited about the picture and medal, I thought she was going to jump out of her wheelchair. Wish you had of been here to see it. She has something to send you, but I am not blog savvy, and have not figured how to send it to you via your blog, so I will get it to you by regular mail and then you can post it on the blog.

Cassy and I both want you to know how very honored and happy we were about you running the marathon in her honor. It really meant a lot to both of us, and we don't ever want you to feel bad that she has not been able to run on her own. She runs in her heart, and all of ours. And one day Cassy will run with us all in heaven.

She has accomplished and experienced much for someone that has never taken a step on her own in her life. Cassy has no regrets about the cerebral palsey, and as you know, she has never let it stop her from anything she has truly wanted to do. She was very upset when I told her about your stress fracture and all the pain you had to endure.

I need to stop now, as I am getting teary eyed. I will try hard to visit your blog more often. Tell Tammy and Chelsea hello, and all of our love to all of you. Wish we could get together and spend time together more often.

From your favorite aunt, love and kisses. I am very proud of you!

Love, Denise

Denise said...

P.S. I had already sent my love to Lindsey via your mom and dad's blog, that is why I did not mention her. Didn't want you to think I had forgotten about her! Ü