Every year, Hubby’s Nana rents the same cabin in Maggie Valley, North Carolina and just about the whole family (14 of us this year!) shows up for a family reunion. Every year it’s awesome. (Here’s the recap from last year, if you’re interested!) We went on this vacation an entire month ago, but I am just now getting around to posting about it. Whoopsies. Story of my life.
This year, Hubby & I opted to drive up rather than fly. Now that Buggy is 2, he’s not free anymore. No thank you to $900 to fly. In comparison (and in Casey math), driving seemed almost free. You can see pictures from our adventure up here. Yay for Instagram. Anywho, we arrived around lunch time on a Wednesday and within an hour or so we were on the golf course. We play this fantastic little course that used to be super crappy. The “clubhouse” is still a total shack, but the course was actually in really good shape this year. They even added sand traps. Huge ones. They let us play a sixsome and don’t care what Scary Uncle Adam wears. We love this place. Hubby, Adam and I got to play again Thursday morning, as well.
After golf & lunch on Thursday, we went on the Death Hike. Really, it was a hike of the unknown to go see some elk. We’ve wanted to do this hike for a couple of years now and just never got it together. It’s a 7 mile stretch through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that ends in the Cataloochee Valley. It was one of those hikes that we brought extra food & water just in case the trails were so crappy that we got lost. Turns out, the trails were fantastic and it only took us about 3 and a half hours. One lady told us it was going to take 8… she obviously underestimated our athletic abilities. The hike was seriously beautiful and ended in the valley, which is where the elk in the area graze each evening. Pretty incredible.
On Friday, we took our annual tubing trip down Deep Creek. This is my favorite part of the trip. White water tubing is SO. MUCH. FUN. Plus, the little kiddos can play in the river while us big kiddos go down the rapids. This year was especially awesome, though, because Bug is big enough to go down the little rapids. So, after the big kids went down the larger section, Hubby, Scary Uncle Adam and Cousin Kelly took Bug down a short little section. He loved it, obvi. Plus, since he isn’t napping twice a day like he was last year, we were able to stay and have a picnic lunch. Bug thought it was super cool to eat lunch in a tube. It took cookies to lure him out.
On last year’s Maggie Valley, Bug got to meet his second cousin Joshua, who is the son of one of Hubby’s cousins and is three months younger than Bug. This year, Joshua and his family couldn’t make it. However, another of Hubby’s cousins has a son who is three weeks older than Bug… and they DID get to come this year. Bug had a blast playing with his second cousin Cohen. There was a lot of monkeys jumping on beds with these two goofballs.
A highlight of this year’s trip that was a new adventure for all of us was Santa’s Land. This fantastic theme park opened in 1966 and I am pretty darn sure that it hasn’t changed. There are all of these old rides that look like they belong in an antique state fair museum. Like, way cooler and sturdier than any state fair ride that you see today. Cohen & Bug had so much fun riding the boat ride and the race cars and the helicopter and the carousel. Santa’s Land also has a mini-zoo with baby bears and a couple of monkeys and some other random animals, like kangaroos. And, of course, Santa is there. Bug was oddly enthusiastic about Santa. He actually wanted to sit on his lap and had a pretty good little conversation with the man. Cohen = notsomuch. Sadly, I have no pictures of that. **Side note – apparently this Santa was the Santa at Sarasota Square Mall for 6 years. This is our mall. He’s like a snowbird Santa. North Carolina in the summers at Santa’s Land and Florida in the winter at shopping malls. Who knew there were jobs for Santa in the summer.**
The true gem of Santa’s Land is the Rudicoaster. Get it? The Rudolph Roller Coaster? Ha. As you can see, Hubby, Scary Uncle Adam and Graham (Cohen’s momma) had a hell of a time on the creakiest, bounciest roller coaster ever. They rode it to see if the little ones would be okay on it. The little ones decidedly would not have been ok.
Ahhh, the time the babies almost died. A certain family member who shall remain nameless on the internets (and no, surprisingly, it wasn’t Scary Uncle Adam) backed the car that was holding BOTH babies into a small trench, causing the tires to get stuck and spin out. All of a sudden the car jolts, slides and pops onto three wheels. The fathers of the babies bolt out of their vehicles as fast as I have ever seen humans move and got the babies out while Uncle Adam jumped on the back of the trench car to get the wheel back on the ground. I should mention that those trees? Yeah, they are rooted quite a ways down a mountain. Meaning if the car rolled, it would have rolled down a mountain. To get the car out of the small trench, we hooked up a tow strap, which Scary Uncle Adam brought along “just in case,” to our Element, which we lovingly call the Toaster. The Toaster has all-wheel drive, which has come in handy more than once in the 6 years that we’ve owned it. Anywho, kind of humorous that the 4-cylinder Honda saved the GMC SUV. Go Toaster!
The last night of our trip was spent at Smokey Shadows Lodge eating a delicious family-style dinner (tomato pie & all) and playing guitar and just hanging out. One of my mother-in-law’s family members used to own the lodge back in the day, so the family has been going there for a very long time. Great Nana loves that we can all be somewhere and experience something that our parents did as children. You know, that whole generational thing. Truth be told, we think it’s pretty amazing as well. Four generations in that picture up there!
So, that was our second vacation this summer. All I can really say is that I can’t wait to go back next year!