Yesterday we went to a ski resort with an alpine slide. You took a ski lift up the mountain and rode a sled down a track. I was wearing my cast and man, did they ever give me embarrassingly special treatment! Logan and I rode the lift together. Even though I had no trouble whatsoever getting on OR off the lift, they still stopped it completely at both bottom and top. Then, even though there was nothing wrong with my arms and my 7-yr-old was obviously struggling with his large sled, the attendant insisted on carrying my sled to the track for me. Then, before Logan and I could make our sled run (two separate tracks,) they cleared the entire (very long) slide, allowed us to go all by ourselves, and didn't allow anyone else to go until we were safely completely off our sleds and the track at the bottom. And again, I had no problem getting off the sled or carrying it to the sled lift, but they rushed over to help me while Logan once again struggled. I probably held up the sled line for at least 8 minutes even though I couldn't have taken more than a few seconds longer to get off my sled than I would have if I was wearing tennis shoes and no cast! They normally allow MANY people on each track at once. Kaylin was right behind me and was going slow enough that she had three people piled up behind her :)
I felt like a complete jerk, but the ski resort was really fun. They also had an indoor ice rink, a small zoo, kiddie rides and several arcades and stores. The kids both skated for quite a while. It was Logan's first time on ice skates and Kaylin's second. Both loved it. There was a really fun shooting gallery Gene and I played while the kids played two endless games of air hockey. (They were both too bad to score any goals, so playing to 7 points took FOREVER. A good value for 75 cents a game!) We didn't do this, but they even had their snow tubing course open. How they kept it open in 90F heat is beyond me! The slopes that closed a week ago were mostly melted already.
Before the ski resort, we spent the morning at the national park. Finally! We drove to the North Carolina state line (just to say we'd been there) hiked a little at the top of a mountain range and then hiked again at an area beside a stream. It was beautiful and fun. I was surprised at how much the kids enjoyed it! I was also surprised at how little wildlife I saw. I mean, I wasn't expecting the place to be crawling with bears and elk, but I didn't even see a squirrel! I figured I'd see lots of birds, but nope. I saw one pileated woodpecker, but otherwise saw almost no birds, no reptiles or amphibians, and the only mammals were a couple of groundhogs outside of the park borders. Bummer.
We had every intention of going back to the park today and going a different direction, but the road construction idiots chose yesterday to resurface the road between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The Spring Break crowds are HUGE this week! When we left the ski resort we swung back into the nat'l park and took the Gatlinburg bypass, thinking we were geniuses to bypass the horrible, crowded downtown strip. Because of the construction (we knew nothing about) we were stuck on the bypass for miles. It took us over 90 minutes to drive ~7 miles between the traffic backup and our hotel on the strip in Pigeon Forge. Sadly, we will not be heading back to the national park this morning. I think we'll head out of town and stop at the Knoxville Zoo instead. Bummer, but I will NOT get into that traffic again!
The kids both swam yet again last night and both of them look like they have hives or have been bawling their eyes out. Logan's eyes were so irritated from the chorine they were streaming tears all night and he could barely open them or see. Poor kid! I'm sure when it comes time to find a hotel tonight they'll be begging for one with a pool :) I think it's funny that when I was their age I was the same way about swimming, but as an adult I can't stand getting wet. Maybe it's less about the actual swimming and more about how much time I spend wet at work? I think that's probably it because I do enjoy water parks or even pools once I'm actually in them.
I guess we'll start our journey home today and arrive home sometime tomorrow (Thursday.) Overall, it's been a good time, but I can't say I'd come back to this area over Spring Break again. Too many people for my tastes!