12 JulGatlinburg, summer 2020

We did a first this year and went to Gatlinburg in the summer instead of fall. It was amazing the difference the trails looked during the summer with all the leaves and flowers. We also were shocked that it seemed more crowded than at Thanksgiving break. Maybe it only seemed this way since in our planning we had made the decision ahead of time if something looked too crowded we would skip it since this would be more of a  socially distant style vacation. Thankful there are tons of hiking trails and lots to do so we could keep our distance from others even with a more popular summer vacation spot than we first realized. 

Thursday morning we were up loading the car and pulling out to go get the Talley’s at 7:45. The drive up went smooth. The moms and kids road in the can while the dads road in the other car. Max only asked 18 times if we were there yet. We were so excited to tell him yes as we pulled into the “Apple Barn”. 

The apple fritters they served with yummy apple butter did not disappoint. Our girls shared chicken fingers and ivy said the Mac-ñ-cheese was the best. We shared a grilled pork chop since Chris is not crazy about them and he’s on a strict diet. We picked up a few apple butters for the road and let the kids pick something from the candy shop or ice cream parlor before heading up the mountain to the chalet. 

The chalet was fabulous. It ended up being very close to where we stayed the last time we were here for Thanksgiving. We unloaded then the kids enjoyed the hot tub while the adults played a couple rounds of Catan. Wes had a work call that evening so the moms took the kids to town to figure out something to do. 

We ended up at the mining place for the kids to find hidden gems. It was a quick little fun time then we stopped by Publix on the way back to grab supplies for the trip. We grabbed some frozen pizzas and turkey for dinner too since it was later than we normally ate and had a chilled, late night in the chalet. Lisa provided additional entertainment playing Catan she was so tired, early morning and midnight bedtime can make you loopy. 

Sorting their gems while Holly put the pizza in the oven

Yum yum dinner time

Great way to end the travel day 

Friday morning we lounged and enjoyed a few cups of coffee before venturing out to “Pancake Pantry”. Chris broke his strict diet and endiñares in eggs, sausage and a pancake; Lisa got the same but shared most the sausage, half the eggs, and pancakes with the girls even though they had gotten Beary pancakes for themselves and a side of bacon. We all had hearty breakfasts to fuel us for the day. 

So this is how we found Chris after sitting on the porch with coffee … he said Leia was coming back to play she had ran to the restroom

Only thing was mommy found Leia enjoying herself else wear … think she forgot she was playing a game with her daddy

Pancake Pantry was yummy! 

After breakfast we walked around several of the shops and let the girls pick out souvenirs. Then we headed to Anakeesta via chair lift. Ivy was a little nervous on it while Leia did not like the sun beating down on us but we made it to the top with smiles on our faces. 

Once we were atop the mountain we played in the tree top playgrounds/climbing areas. Took a few photo ops. Walked up 86 steps to reach a 60 ft high tower for fabulous views; it had only been opened for two days. Chris and Leia was tired and hot so they headed back to the car while the rest of us went to the sky walk, walking from tree to tree via suspension bridges. We were only able to do half of it since a wind storm had recently knocked down trees and bridges but we had fun. On the ride back down Ivy’s Shewawa hat flew away but we texted daddy to order another one. 

Fun being a kid and climbing thru the playhouses with them

This is the area where Lisa’s phone fell out and we almost lost it

Daddy and Leia got hot and tired so they took a little break in the shade

Always love a few good photo ops and silly ones too

Love is in the air 

Sweet family pictures 

Chris option climbing the stairs to the observation tower but the rest of us started walking

He waved to us though as we called out to him

There were great photo ops up with the gorgeous sky

Chris said Leia was hot and wanted to get away from the bugs so they headed back to the car but per the pictures may not have headed straight there. The rest of us walked on a sky bridge

Fun time walking around and taking in the view

Headed back down to meet up with Chris and Leia 

Our last picture with Ivy’s hat before it flew away

Of course we paused for photo op on the way back to the car; Ivy likes photos more than mommy 😉

We were thankful that the car was cool when we got back to it. We decided instead of heading to the next event we’d go back to the chalet to cool down and rest a little. The kids immediately hopped in the hot tub despite the fact it is burning up outside, Lisa ran to the store, and other adults played Catan where Chris got his second victory in a row. Lisa cooked tacos when she got back and pattied out burgers for tomorrow’s picnic. Once dinner was done we all enjoyed dinner before the evening adventure. 

More fun in the hot tub for the kiddos

Leia and Max had a blast playing pool together 

Max’s pick was putt putt and the girls wanted to ride go-carts. First stop go-carts. Leia and Alex could drove on the elevated track but ivy and Max were not old enough but they could ride in a double with the parents. We each ride twice then let Ivy go drive in the junior track so he’d get a turn driving too. Afterwards we walked a couple doors down to the putt putt place. Chris won of course with his golfing background. Wes was about 10 strokes back followed by Lisa then Holly. Even though the guys were victorious we all had fun and were tired after a long day but the adults still stayed up to play games so bedtime was well after midnight again. 

Love driving go-carts! Leia graduated from driving on the junior track to the elevated track 

It cracked Lisa and Ivy up that Wes accidentally fastened Max in on the drivers side

Mommy and Daddy took turns driving Ivy 

Apparently Chris put Holly/Max into the wall when they drove the littles but he did warn her about it. Lisa just over took Wes/Max and passed Leia. Second time Leia would not let anyone pass her. 

We took Ivy to drive on the Junior Track too. 

Our family traditionally does not normally play mini golf but boy did we have fun! Thanks Max for picking it. There is not many pictures because mommy was tired and not snapping them

Last hole pictures

It was time for bed when we got back! Love their sweet, innocence as they rest 

Saturday morning the Comfort crew were all up before the Talley team. Lisa prepped breakfast then sat on the porch enjoying coffee before finishing it. We all ate eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls, and blueberry biscuits to energize us for a full day. We loaded up as soon as we finished to head to a trail. We hiked up to the chimney remnants half way up the cemetery hike. It’s was almost 4 miles round trip. We enjoyed the leisure stroll thru the woods and took time to climb on the creek rocks on the way up and down. We only saw one other person on the trail but saw people wadding in the water at a distance. 

Of course before we left we ran to the restroom and Ivy found a dog to pet but we did not take long before we were off and on the trail

We played in the creek on the way up and on the way back … we do not normally get to get wet in the fall so we took advantage

Ivy LOVED it! And loved her picture taken

Mother-daughter having fun

Holly and her littles too

Next on our agenda was a picnic in the park while playing in the creek. Chris did a great job grilling burgers as the rest of us walked in the creek. The adults got to visit after cleanup until the kids started needing triage and we decided to head back to the chalet. 

Chris grilled while the rest of  us played in the water

This monkey loves posing and saying momma take my picture

Lunch is served

After lunch the kids played in the creek some more until Max and Leia both slipped and we got the medic kit out


The result of our hiking day and a shirt the kids found when we ventured into a store for a minute 

We showered to wash the stink off us then headed back to Gatlinburg for dinner at Loco Burro, one of the Talley’s favorite Mexican places here. The food and service did not disappoint . The girls split a kids cheese quesadilla then share daddy and mommy’s fajitas with us too. Unfortunately, the mechanical donkey was closed due to COVID but we can do that when the pandemic is over. 

On our trip to the restroom we had to take a picture at the bar

The Talley’s and Comfort girls headed to the SkyBridge to walk across the longest suspension bridge in the US and take in the beautiful views above Gatlinburg at night. Afterwards, we planned to get a pretzel at Auntie Anne’s but they were closed so the kids settled on a scoop of ice cream before we made our way back to the chalet. Chris was sotting in the recliner waiting on us when we got back. He’d been in the hot tub, showered, listened to a podcast, and gotten some time to decompressed. Of course we headed to bed not long after our return since it was close to midnight. 

On our way

On the bridge

Yes we normally wore mask but would slip them off for pics

We made it to the other side for a few photo ops

What a great view

Silly group pic per Max’s request

Heading back over the bridge 

Photo package gave us the view during the day too

At the end of the bridge

The bridge we crossed

Sweet friends!

On the way down

Before heading back to the chalet we did let the kids get treats and enjoy night life in Gatlinburg

These two fell asleep as soon as they sat down in the ca

Sunday morning we were all up early knowing we had to be out by 10 o’clock checkout. Most of the trip the girls have been singing happy songs of “we are on the way to ____”, today it turned into a said version of “we are leaving Gatlinburg”. Lisa was up at 6 to start packing, get dressed, and prep breakfast. Once Chris got his bag packed he finished cooking while she loaded packed and loaded hers, the girls, and all the other supplies we had brought up for the adventure. Everyone had ate and we were ready to pull out shortly after 8 o’clock, earlier than expected.   

The dad’s drove the van on the way home with the kids while the mom’s drove our car back. Apparently, the kids were worn out because the dad’s said it was a quiet trip. Thankful it was quiet for them because we hit traffic and ended up detouring up, over, and around a few mountains to get home. It was a longer drive than we expected but thankful to Waze we were not sitting the interstate.

Girls relaxing before we all got on the road to head home

When we got home the Talley’s stayed to fellowship a little longer even though we had spent several days together since while we were gone Jack and Luke were exposed to COVID. All the Talley’s would be quarantined once they saw their boys until we all knew they were in the clear and COVID tests were all negative. We ordered dinner in and played games while the kids played and rested watching TV. We did call it a early night though since the littles were all exhausted and we still needed to wash clothes and get ready for the work week ahead. 

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