Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We're baaack!

The Hypes' family has just returned from a week of family vacation in Townsend, Tennessee. Ryan and Emily hung out in the backseat for the 7 1/2 hour road trip. To help pass the time, Ryan watched a few movies and Emily watched Ryan. ;-) They both handled the long time in the car very well. We stopped pretty much our normal amount of times on the way there and it seemed to work out great for diaper changes, stretching the legs and kept us from going nuts. Fortunately, Emily has always liked riding in her carseat and is still very good at keeping herself entertained.

Ryan and Emily have been bonding a little more each weekend that he comes up to visit since we've come home from Kazakhstan, but seeing the bonding process over a solid week has been amazing! There were several times in the car or in the cabin that Ryan had Emily cracking up. She's a very smiley baby but doesn't do the gut-busting laughs very often. Ryan has become very proficient at producing those almost any time he wants now. It's obvious that she loves him very much and was thrilled when he played with her or made faces at her across the table or the backseat. I think watching the 2 of them playing together was the highlight of my trip and I certainly had sore cheeks several times from smiling and laughing at them so much.

And, yes, a few weeks later, she's still enjoying playing with socks (and chewing on them)!

While we were in Townsend we visited our favorite places and added in couple new places that might become favorites in the years to come. Tom's must see's include a stop at "Deadbeat Pete's", a local restaurant that serves mostly burgers and Mexican food and "The Back Porch", which is another local restaurant that features breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, etc. He also likes to stop at the Townsend Visitors center to look at the gifts, artwork and souvenirs as it helps him switch into vacation mode a little easier. Our family also takes several trips through Cades Cove every year. This year, we took 2 trips as a family and I got up at sunrise another morning and took a solo trip through the cove. There is quite a bit of wildlife to be seen each trip... mostly deer, a few turkeys and this year we saw our first bear family in the the cove. There are also some old log cabins that you can walk through and about 3 or 4 one-room churches.

Our vacation overlapped for a few days with our friends Scott and Carrie, who were in Townsend celebrating their 1st anniversary. We met up on Tuesday for lunch at a BBQ place and then toured each others' cabins. We hung out at ours for a while so Emily could catch a nap and then drove to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for some supper at Huck Finn's and a go-cart ride. It was nice to spend a few days with friends in such a relaxed environment!

We drove back to Gatlinburg a few days later for lunch at the new Bubba Gump's restaurant and a trip to the "Aquarium in the Smokies" and really enjoyed it. This will probably become something we do each year or at least every other. I took Emily in the backpack carrier and she was able to see everything and it made walking the streets and the aquarium really easy. I would not have wanted to try walking around all those people with a stroller, it would have been very frustrating and we wouldn't have had as much fun.

Later in the week, we picked a nice rainy day to visit the local Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend. We loaded Emily up in the backpack carrier again and hiked down in the caves for a tour. Aside from Ryan smacking his noggin on the rocks on his way
down into the cavern we had a great time. The guide said there were 87 steps down... which meant 87 steps back up... and 4 days later my knees are still angry with me.

On Sunday, we visit Church of the Cove which is also a family standard for any time we happen to be in the area. We enjoy their worship service and this Sunday, the youth group did the service as they had just gotten back from a mission trip the night before and were excited to share their trip with the congregation.

Oh, and our cabin had a hot tub with it and Ryan and I were in it nearly every day. Tom and Emily joined in a couple of days (after we turned the temperature WAY down!)

And, to our fans reading the blog... the after we got home, Emily and I had some errands to run to return some movies to the library and get some groceries and such. We ran across a lot of family and friends... some new friends at our store (The Shepherd's Nook) that have been following our blog, Joyce (Laura's mom) at Hobby Lobby, our friends, Jeanie, Susie, Betsy and Lizzie at the library, and Karen and Aunt Kris at the grocery store. It was so good to meet/see everyone after our trip and just as I'm winding down my summer vacation before going back to work.

I will try to post some cute videos soon of the kids playing together in the backseat but at the moment all the videos are on Tom's laptop which is with him at work!

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