Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Vacation in the Smoky Mountains

We took off last Friday for a quick trip down to our favorite spot in Tennessee -- The Smoky Mountains. We took a planned detour through Nashville on the way so that we could meet our niece for supper and hang out briefly while we were in the area. Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures on my computer at the moment but am hoping to round some up that dear hubby took.

Some highlights of the Nashville loop of the trip:
  • Emily got to eat at The Aquarium, a restaurant at the Opry Mills mall in Nashville, while sitting beside swimming sharks, stingrays, a bunch of smaller fish, and a diver.
  • Emily got to eat ice cream with her new best friend, Anna-Vija.
  • Emily told me she had to go potty while at the restaurant, but made a QUICK u-turn as soon as she discovered they were scary (read: automatic flushing) toilets.
  • Emily got to ride on the carousel about 5 or 6 times in the Opry Mills mall in Nashville.
  • Emily got to pet stingrays in the same mall.
  • Emily got to spend the night with us in our king-size bed at the hotel and repeatedly told us, "I love this room!"
  • Emily got to eat continental breakfast at the hotel -- including a mommy-made waffle (ok, so I just poured the waffle mix from the cup into the waffle iron, flipped it over and waited for it to beep... but you theoretically you could mess that up, right?)
  • Emily got to ride up to the top/3rd floor of the hotel in a glass elevator and I stopped to let her run a lap around the inner square hallway on each floor before we got back in the car to head to our next destination. I think she actually ran 2 laps on the second floor... but whose counting.

We spent the week in our favorite rental cabin in Townsend, TN. We enjoyed rainstorms from the front porch nearly every day and experienced some torrential downpours toward the end of the week that we heard dumped 8 inches on us in a 24-hour period.

Prior to the trip, I gathered up some materials so I could spend some time learning a little more about my Nikon D50 camera. I'm ready to start learning to do a little more with my camera so we can get away from using the automatic setting the majority of the time. I didn't get a lot of time to read up but spent part of a morning playing with the aperature and shutter speed settings. I still have a LONG way to go.

We did Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in one day and took in the aquarium there. We like it because after you walk partway through the exhibits you can hop into a slowly moving sidewalk and it takes you under and beside the huge tank that houses a bunch of sharks, sea turtles, and a wide variety of fish. I couldn't think of the best settings to use on my camera and recommended that Tom use a nightime setting because it was fairly dark in there... bad choice. Most of the pictures came out blurry and I should have had him set it back on Auto.

This kind of shows the size of part of the exhibit. That's a shark in the center of the picture and the bottom-left shows people on the moving sidewalk going around one of the bends.

A closer look at one of the sharks in the tank around us.

Emily is NOT camera-shy like some of her cousins. As soon as she sees you holding a camera, she immediately whips around with her "C-H-E-E-E-E-E-S-E!" pose. As soon as the picture is snapped, you get bombarded with an excited, "I Wanna See! I Wanna See!" Hmmm... seems my generation missed that aspect of photography.

Our cabin comes with a hot tub on the wrap around porch. Emily and I took advantage of it nearly every day. There were a couple of times when a shower came up on us all of a sudden and much to Emily's chagrin we had to head inside. On one such occasion, I just deposited her directly from the hot tub into the bath tub and let her keep playing in the water. This was her first chance to play with her special bathtub crayons that she picked out. Yeah, we vandalized our rental cabin's shower... we're just mean like that. No, actually, these are pretty cool and similar to some I remember playing with as a kid. Emily had a blast taking the bathtub through the "carwash" when it was time to clean it all up.

Check out the hair! When she first came home she had NO hair. Then it came in blonde and straight. It's VERY slowly getting longer and is still very fine but she's got little ringlets when it gets wet. (And weird frizzies when it doesn't have mousse or gel on it.)

Late in the week, we had the really have rainstorm come through. Somehow, we managed to leave an outdoor light on at the back of the porch and in the morning the outside cabin wall near the light was speckled with over 3 dozen different moths. Only 2 of them had similar coloring and shape! There was a pink and yellow one not pictured below and two looked like rolled up dead leaves until I looked more closely and discovered they were moths. Here are few of the specimens that I found really interesting. The green one is worth clicking on the pictures to see a larger version! I'm sure they were drying their wings or whatever it is that moths do, but these things were on the wall at about 7am and they were still over 8 hours later and didn't look like they had moved the tiniest bit. They were gone by dark and none were there the next day.

I love watching sunsets but the view from our cabin has never revealed any cool colors or anything like we see at home or when we travel to Michigan's U.P. I did set my camera and tripod up one evening though and over the course of an hour took about 10 photos of the changing evening sky. They don't call them The Great Smoky Mountains for nothin'! Be sure to click on the triangle/play button to view them. Enjoy.

Vacation is over and it's back to the grindstone this week for me. Stay healthy and be blessed y'all!


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