Travel To Tennessee…

Hey y’all! It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’m back!

Things are going well. It’s summer and the ol’ wanderlust has kicked in. I recently returned from a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee….in particular, the Great Smoky Mountains and had an amazing time. 

As crazy as this will sound, I think the most exciting part of the trip was the night a bear ran across the highway in front of my car. We were heading to the ice cream parlor and as it turns out, so was he…in particular the dumpster behind the shop. Both the bear and the customers at the ice cream parlor are all ok and the folks that were there have a great story to tell!

Our first day there we took a drive through the park and just enjoyed the scenery. It’s absolutely beautiful! I’ve been there several times over the years and never tire of it!

On day two, we took another drive…this time to Cade’s Cove where we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, took in the history of the area, and enjoyed a picnic in the the picnic area by a mountain stream. We were fortunate enough to see two bears playing in a field as we drove through. They frolicked in the field for about ten minutes before running off. I got photos but they are of poor quality because we were so far away. Here are a few from Cades Cove for your viewing pleasure.

After spending several hours in Cades Cove, we decided to drive over the mountain to Cherokee, North Carolina. It’s about an hours drive. The Cherokee Indian Reservation is located there and the scenery is beautiful in this area as well! We were able to get some delicious Indian fry bread while we were there, browse souvenir shops, hike to a waterfall, and we even saw an elk on the side of the road. I had no idea how huge they are!

In the summer they have an outdoor drama…Unto These Hills and the performance is acted out in an amphitheater built into the side of a mountain. It’s depicts the life of the Cherokee in the region and their forced removal…the Trail of Tears. We missed opening day by one week, but I’ve seen it before and highly recommend it!

On site is The Eternal Flame. The Eternal Flame burns at the entrance to the Mountainside Theater. It was carried on the Trail Of Tears to Oklahoma and brought back to Cherokee from Oklahoma in 1951…it still burns.

Day three we attended the Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It’s a Dolly Parton venture and there are many. She grew up in the area and has a very big presence there. We love Dolly and we loved the show! Included with the show is a four course meal and it was absolutely perfect…tasted great and the service is excellent! However, utensils not included. You eat everything with your hands. The show is a way to look back over the area for the last three hundred years or so and is very patriotic. Again, we loved it and highly recommend it. Definitely worth the money!

Since we were leaving the next morning, we decided to take one last drive through the mountains on a driveable trail called the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It can be reached by turning at traffic light six in Gatlinburg and follow the signs. In my opinion it has some of the best scenery in the National Park. There are some old, mountain homes to visit that were lived in by the early settlers to the area and there’s even a nice waterfall by the side of the road. No hiking required. Just park in the pull off area and walk right up to it. Again, some of the best scenery the park has to offer AND some of the best hiking trails…many with spectacular waterfalls at the end.

The ending of this post brings us back to the beginning…after exiting the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which brings you out on to the highway in Gatlinburg, we encountered the bear about five minutes later. He was leaving the same area we had just left…and had ice cream on his mind, too!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our little adventure and if you ever have the opportunity to visit the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg/Great Smoky Mountains area, you won’t be disappointed! 

Stay tuned for our next adventure later this month and hope y’all have a great summer and safe travels!

K❤️

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To My Daughter…

Sixteen years ago next month after almost 16 hours of labor, I cradled my little bundle of joy in my arms and to me she was perfect. I remember thinking as we left the hospital…”they can’t let me take this baby home. I don’t know what to do with her”! That feeling didn’t last long and we’ve done just fine since then, but I still have moments when I think…I don’t know what to do with her. Teenagers! I sent her off to school a few days ago to her sophomore year in high school and I can’t help but see her as the same little girl on her first day of kindergarten.

Raising a teenager in today’s world is scary. We teach them right from wrong knowing all the while they’re going to make mistakes…that’s how they learn. You have to trust them, but at the same time keep a watchful eye on them in case you need to gently guide them in another direction. Sometimes you have to drag them kicking and screaming to put them on the right path! 

I haven’t encountered any serious problems with her so far, but she’s strong willed and stubborn just like me. My mom got her wish! I have a daughter just like me.

This is for her….

Dear Daughter,

First and foremost I want you to know I love you more than life itself and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. Having said that, there are certain things I won’t be able to do for you. I’ve taught you right from wrong. You’ll have to make decisions in life and please remember, you’re free to choose, but you won’t be free from the consequences of those choices. Choose wisely.

Establish moral boundaries and never compromise them for anyone or anything. Not for your friends, your spouse, your job, for money or pleasure. You determine your self respect and worth. People will respect you more if you’re true and not fake.

It’s okay to have a different opinion than others…including me. Listen and respect the views of others. You don’t have to make them the enemy because you don’t agree. You can disagree and still be respectful because I’ve taught you there’s value in a differing opinion.

Don’t forget to live in the moment. It’s okay to plan ahead, but don’t be so busy wishing your life away that you forget to live for today.

It’s okay to walk away. From friendships that aren’t good for you. From people who want you to make choices that go against your values. Walk away from bad influences and walk towards your family and God.

Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. Don’t seek approval from everyone. Love yourself.

Some people will say all the right things and not mean a single one of them. Watch what they do not what they say.

You know how you felt about that boy you liked last year and he didn’t like you in the same way? I hate to tell you this, but that’s gonna happen quite a few more times. You’re going to to break a few hearts yourself. Remember how you felt and be kind when the time comes to deal with it.

Be grateful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. Set goals and work towards them. The world doesn’t owe you anything. If you want it you have to work for it!

Life isn’t always about you. You aren’t better than anyone, but you should strive to be the best you that you can be.

Always lend a helping hand or help someone in need. You never know when it could be you that needs someone’s help.

Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat.

Finish what you start, even when you don’t feel like it.

Anyone who will accept you for exactly who you are, are the best friends you will ever have.

Never apologize for saying no. You’re allowed to say it.

Never drink and drive. If you do choose to drink, call me to come get you. We’ll talk about it later.

It’s okay to take pride in your appearance and want to look pretty. Just remember that true beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you’re ugly on the inside, you’re ugly. Period.

Don’t judge people, but know that people will judge you. 

Don’t compare yourself to others. Someone will always be prettier, more talented, etc….life isn’t a competition. Be yourself. There’s no one else in the world like you!

Speak up for yourself and stand your ground if you aren’t being treated fairly.

Don’t lose yourself in a guy. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not to please them. You are enough. There are lots of boys out there who will like all the quirky little things about you. It’s okay to wait for one of them.

Listen to the little voice inside you. It’s never wrong.

Be careful what you post on social media. The Internet is forever. 

Read your Bible. It has all the answers. 

You will make mistakes. Forgive yourself when you do.

You can talk to me about anything. There’s nothing you can do that will make me not love you.I may not always agree with your decisions, but I’ve always got your back.  I will always be here for you no matter what. I love you.

Love, Mom

Beach Memories…

I’ll be going to the beach for my annual vacation in less than a month. I’ll be taking my teenage daughter and some of her friends. It’s gonna be a blast!

I’ll get tons of eye rolls and get ignored most of the time. We’ll eat wherever they want to go most nights, but I WILL get crab legs and take forever to eat them. I hate seafood, but love crab legs…weird I know! When you only eat them once a year, those things are hard to break open. They’ll complain it’s taking me too long to eat, but I won’t care. That’s why I choose a place that has interactive activities for them so they won’t get too bored waiting on me to finish.

They won’t want me to hang out in the water with them…I’ll be floating with them only to turn and see that they’ve drifted away from me…on purpose. It’s ok though. I’ll find another mom to bond with like I did last year.

I can remember a few years ago, when they still wanted me around. We’d be jumping waves in the ocean and while we waited for the next wave, we would sing. 🎶Under The Sea 🎶 from The Little Mermaid. 🎶Let It Go🎶 from Frozen..songs they enjoyed at the time.

I think I’ll give it a try this year and see what happens! Anything they want to sing will make me happy. I’ll just make up words if I don’t know them! That’s a sure fire way to annoy them!

There was also the year my daughter went to the beach for the first time and gave me a five minute long public service announcement about why people leaving trash on the beach was bad and how it affected ocean life….and how I caught her several times dancing her heart out alongside the surf. Thankfully, I filmed both of these events! Something that mortifies her now, but I cherish those videos.

We’ll spend our days at the beach and nights exploring the city and searching for crabs in the sand with our flashlights. We’ll find little jellyfish that have washed up on shore and marvel at the way they change colors. We’ll enjoy our view of the beach from the balcony, watch for dolphins, shop at souvenir stores, have pizza delivered, eat at new restaurants, and soak up not only the sun, but every glorious moment in beach paradise.

It may sound like I’m complaining a bit in the beginning of this post, but I don’t mean to. They’re teenagers! Of course they don’t want me “hanging out” with them the whole time. I understand that. I’ll give them their space and they’ll include me from time to time. I’ll annoy them or embarrass them and I will capture every moment I can with a photograph. For some reason that annoys them, too. The irony is that they will ask me hours later to send them the pics so they can post them on Instagram. I should tell them no since they didn’t want to pose in the first place, but I won’t! 

I’ll enjoy every moment of this vacation with my teenage daughter and her friends because I know my days are numbered with them. I ask them on occasion if they will come visit when I’m old and in a nursing home. I ask if they will remind me of all the fun things we did when I’m not able to remember them anymore. Of course they laugh at me and say yes, because they can’t see that far into the future. 

What they don’t know is that all the things I’ve mentioned in this post will be memories for them later on. If I’m lucky they will come visit me, remind me of all the fun we had when they were young, and decorate my room with all the photos that they didn’t want to take.