Monday, October 24, 2011

Pigeon Forge, TN Week 2

Week 2 in Pigeon Forge started with a fun Saturday, going to the Coleman camping store and Smoky Mountain Knifeworks.  Knifeworks is a HUGE store full of (approx. 200,000) KNIVES!  I had no idea that there are so many makes, models, purposes, and accessories in the knife world!  After walking around for awhile, I was beginning to feel woozy.  :)  

The sword in the stone.... 3 stories high in the middle of the store!

Above the store was the National Knife Museum.  Being home educators, we toured the museum…

Knives through history...

Ever wanted to make a's how!
More knife making techniques...
Jolie having some fun....

We finished the day with watching The Ohio State University Buckeyes.  Great game, but it came with a sad, hard loss to Nebraska :(

Assuming the position...

Sunday started out awesome as we attended another church in Sevierville… Pathways Church.  You can check them out here:  The praise and worship was good and very interesting… you can tell that we’re very close to Nashville and definitely in the heart of blue grass music country!  The pastor’s message was about the Christian Atheist.  So, so good!  You can listen to the podcast series at the link above.  I highly recommend Session 6.  The series foundation is Titus 1:16 "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him."  If we claim Christianity, our walk needs to reflect the Savior we proclaim.

DT and I then had a date afternoon at the Walmart.  Even though my fridge is only approx 10 cubic feet and my “pantry” is 3 small cabinets, it STILL takes me an hour to grocery shop!  What’s up with that???  I think most of my time is spent w-a-l-k-i-n-g through the store to find the few items I do get.  We did 97% of my grocery shopping at the base commissary, so I don’t know Walmart’s layout very well!

Monday found us in the big city of Knoxville.  We were having computer issues since we left Panama City, so we took our Macbook to the “Genius Bar” for a little TLC.  We were hoping to get the work done while we waiting, but no such luck… they had to keep it for the week (which is why I’m doing weekly catch-ups now!)  On the way home we made two stops… one at Camping World and the second… Bass Pro Shop!  We were able to score a much needed new table set up for the school room, on sale for $40 off!!  Whoop!!  And we also found a few other little things to help the quality of life in the RV.

Then… Bass Pro Shops….WOW!  I’ve never been in one!  Again, another HUGE store!  It was truly an experience.  Just walking up to the store front, I loved the landscaping and the animal tracks in the sidewalk.  Inside there is an amazing fish tank.  They also have a shooting range on the second floor that the kids thoroughly enjoyed!   (I didn't take the camera on this trip, but I did get a cell phone shot of the kids at the shooting range.  Jolie was beyond precious shooting the rifle, as it weighed as much as she did.)  It was multiple floors of things I never knew I needed :)  After spending about two hours checking out all the hunting, fishing, archery, and camping items, we left the store with only a tick remover!  I’m so proud of us!!!  

Tuesday was a wonderful day of staying “home” in the cottage.  With all the running around we’ve been doing, it was so nice to have a down day.  We schooled, did laundry (which we do at the central laundry room), and getting ready for a visit from friends!!!

Yay for Wednesday… we spent the morning schooling and getting ready to head out to Cades Cove in the GSMNP.  We got there before our friends, so we decided to go ahead and drive “The 11 Mile Loop”.  It didn’t take us long before we realized this may have been a big mistake…

Brake lights, lots and lots of brake lights...
It took us an HOUR to drive ONE MILE!  Even though it was beautiful, we didn’t want to be on the loop until midnight… but finally we came upon what the hold up was… our first bear sighting!!!!

If you squint your eyes, the bear is the black dot in the middle of the picture!

There were many people there that made me have camera envy!  I think their pictures actually captured the bear.  I have LOTS of photos with black dots :)  

Luckily though, there were lots of animals that didn't mind being close to the road for their photo shoot:

Love mamas with their babies! 
Wild turkeys!

Once we got past the bear, traffic flowed and we decided to start a hike to Abrams Falls.

Another beautiful trail in the park:

Abrams Falls Trail

Can you see the tree's reflection in the creek?  Breathtaking...

 We didn’t have time to finish this hike, as dusk was upon us and we had to find our friends in the campground to make plans for the next day, as we were going on a bear hunt!

Thursday was here!!!  Bear hunting with 3 amazing, godly couples!!!  We LOVE Gary and Inga Evans, Tom and Donna Chapman, and Ralph and Ellen Stedding.  I will have to share the fun through pictures… so here we go!  Weather was touch and go, but it didn’t damp our enthusiasm!  It was raining when we started our hunt, but it stopped by the first time we got out of the trucks.  And didn’t start raining again until dinner!

First trip through the loop:

Um, Mrs. Inga...there is a gate across this "trail"....doesn't that mean that we're not supposed to go in there????

Well, Mrs. Kellie...If you want to find bear, you need to look for their signs... see this tree here???    Daniel, why don't you check it for a bear claw??

We found the bear's lair!  Go ahead Daniel, check it out....  Any bears in there????

Well, we didn't have any bear sightings on the first trip of the day on the loop, but we did spot a....

Squint... and look in the middle of the photo---it's a coyote!

And since we home educate... a stop at Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church:

What a GEM--looky at these dates!!  A REVOLUTIONARY War soldier!

Well, time to head back to the campsites and refuel our bellies:

Oh yummy, yummy, yummy---warm chocolate chip cookies!!!  :)  Nan ROCKS!
And play some games:

And learn new survival skills:

Mrs. Chapman teaching us how to use an acorn shell as a whistle  :)

Time for our second trip of the day around the loop, but first:

No bears yet, but I did spot these three little critters enjoying Cade Coves.

Oh, what is that we see?  A ranger parked along the loop?  We have learned what that means---look up, there's a bear near!

Can you spot the two black dots in the middle of the trees???  They are 2 baby bears!!!

The sweet 2 bears climbing down the trees to join their mama :)  (They are the 2 black dots in the "Y" of the tree.)

We enjoyed watching them for quite awhile.  They were in the trees eating acorns.  We actually saw one reach around and pull a branch to him!  I really wish I had better pictures to share.

Daniel enjoyed the bears, but decided to check out the park ranger.  He discovered multiple weapons in his vehicle and on his utility belt.  He struck up a conversation with him and asked him all sorts of questions about them.  When he found out that the ranger had a taser... and asked him to tase him!  What a silly boy!  I'm so glad the ranger wasn't bored that day and so did not grant his request!

Daniel and his new buddy 

As we were walking back to the truck after the bear sighting, after having lost sight of them...we came across a lady just staring into the trees.  We asked her what she was looking at and she just pointed---THE MAMA BEAR AND HER TWO CUBS WERE JUST A FEW YARDS AWAY FROM US!!!!!
We eagerly followed them through the underbrush for about 15 minutes.  Unfortunately, I had already put my camera in the truck and didn't have it on me :(  This was THE MOST amazing experience!!!  The cubs were so cute and playful.  There was just a very small crowd and we all watched quietly.  (Our friend had her camera and if she got any pictures of this, I'll be sure to post them.)  As much as we wanted to get really close, we were keenly aware that this was a MAMA bear we were watching.  We wanted to make very sure we didn't agitate her.  We were so grateful that God allowed us success on our "bear hunt"!    

We wrapped up an adventurous days with a great BBQ chicken dinner in the RAIN.  Our mighty men of valor went above and beyond to ensure dinner was a success… Ralph stood next to the fire holding an umbrella over it to keep it going!!  Yay, Ralph!

We had a great night of fellowship, laughs, and a few rounds of some very silly songs.  We’re so thankful that we have such amazing brothers and sisters in Christ.  They brought such love, encouragement, and joy with them and it was very hard to say good-bye.

Dear friends:  Tom & Donna Chapman, Ralph & Ellen Stedding, Team Monty, G and Nan Evans

We wrapped up the week with a trip to Knoxville to pickup our repaired laptop…only to discover it was iPhone 4 release day….  Boy, oh boy!  People sure do like their gadgets!!  It was c-r-a-z-y in the store!  I suppose by the time we get one, it'll be iPhone 77 :)

The one thing that we have not enjoyed here is the traffic.  Hwy 66 south to Pigeon Forge off of I-40 at exit 407, is a NIGHTMARE…. All those darn out of state vistors!!!  They sure clog the roadways around here… hee hee.

Anyway, we have learned that that stretch of the road is awful, so we decided to try a “back road”.  And we were delightfully surprised with a great road trip.  We stumbled upon the Bush Beans original store! 
This is one thing I was hoping to find on this journey….surprise, unique Americana places…off the beaten path.  We came around the corner and found this:

Bush Co. General Merchandise, the original!  

Great old store, that also sold "old time" candies.

Jon got to share a gum from his childhood:  Teaberry Gum!  
Another fun week, ending with Dad getting to share memories from his childhood.  It was such a treat bringing a by-gone era into today.  Is there anything you can share from your childhood with your kids today?

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