Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday at the (Mini) Golf Course

I had my hands full (of kids!) today. I took Kel and some buddies to the mini golf course and then out for lunch. We lasted about 4 hours and then I, um, I mean, the kids, were tired and ready to pack it in. Besides, we still had our Sunday afternoon swim to come!

I only got a few photos -- in between carrying golf clubs and retrieving balls and refereeing tricky shots. It was a super day out.

Group shot: Elsa, Elizabeth, Rowan, and Kel.

The only other time that I got Kel to stand still enough for a photo!

Elizabeth and Elsa. Super sweet.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Break in the Smokies

We spent this year's spring break on a gorgeous trip to the Smoky Mountains and eastern Tennessee. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and it was just the relaxing break that we all needed. There was so much to do, so much to see, and we can't wait to get back again soon.

First stop on the trip was neither beautiful, nor scenic, but we hit the Children's Museum in Indianapolis to break up the driving on our first day. Kellan loves this place. Unfortunately, it was spring break for the kids of Indy, as well as being an absolutely freezing cold wet day, so it seemed that the entire city had the same idea. Still, Kel had a great time. I just didn't get many photos...

Here is Kel working on the paleontology dig down in the dinosaur exhibit.

First night in our cabin was freezing! Kel had to sleep in his winter hat. I am happy to report that we were warm and toasty in our sleeping bags, but the hat prevented chilly ears. And after that night, all was well with the weather gods and we had gorgeous temperatures for the rest of the trip. Thank goodness.

Here are some snaps of Kel and Mickey waking up in the top bunk on our first morning. Kel loved the cabin experience.

Swinging on the patio. We spent a lot of lovely evenings here on the swing.

Our cabin was right next door to Patriot Park, literally, beyond our cabin was park. This sign was at the far side, the street entrance.

On our second day in Tennessee, we hit Dollywood! Oh yes, it was awesome! When you grow up down the street from Disney, these southern parks are a real treat. Such a family friendly and country feel. And without the insanity of the crowds and tourists. The sign says, "We're glad you're here" and you know, during the course of our visit, we really felt that they were!

And there is a full size (huge!) steam engine here. Pulls you right up the mountin in a beautiful five mile loop ride.

Kel got to drive his own car! Many times. No Autopia impossible to push pedal here. Much better idea. He could steer, but the car moved on its own.

Where they put water in the steam engine.

The engine is behind him. Glum face is due to being tired. Mid-afternoon, super hot day, and so much fun stuff to do!

We had one rainy day on the trip and went to Wonder Works, otherwise known as the "uskidown house" to Kel. Fabulous and huge cross between a science and a children's museum. Super. Didn't get many photos because it was quite busy, as was Kel!

There was an afternoon break in the rain, so after Wonder Works we hit the mini golf course. Kel's first time. And something which has now become a bit of an obsession.

It got hot at some point. The shirt came off. Briefly.

The course was called "Fire House Golf" and there was an old firetruck out front. The boys are posing, sort of.

In the evening we decided to head for the Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg. This place was incredible. We spent hours admiring the wonderful exhibits. Definitely a must see if you're in the area.

You're supposed to be able to see the "Aquarium of the Smokies" sign behind him. Yeah, well, it was raining and I just took a quick snap, ok?

I found this saw tooth guy amazing. There were quite a few of them in the shark tunnels. They would just sit on top of you.

There were cute fish tanks that kids could "get inside", climb up through the middle and be surrounded by the aquarium world.

This one's for you, Uncle Patrick!

Aren't they the cutest fish ever? Love these.

Seriously never seen anything more horrifying. Had to photograph it for historic preservation.

At Kel's insistence -- Dory!

Ok, sorry, indulge me. The jellyfish were gorgeous!

The next day, we went back to Dollywood. Can't get too much of a good thing, right?

The boys on the bumper cars.

We waited for a nice day to head into the mountains, but even on a nice day, this is what the mountains were like when you got any distance into the National Park. I guess that's why they call them the Smoky Mountains, eh?!

Another day, another round (or eight) of mini golf.

He says that he is going to be a "golf man" when he grows up. This is a serious obsession.

On Easter Sunday, it was time to begin the trek home. We started in Knoxville, at the Tennessee River, where we rode the Three Rivers Rambler steam train. It was the Easter Bunny Express on this day and we had so much fun.

The riverfront is beautiful, an immense park and river walk. Not sure how far it goes. We exhausetd ourselves and didn't see much of it!

The whistle was loud!

My cheeky boys. I do so love them.

The train stopped at a park and the kids were greeted by the Easter Bunny! What excitement. The stop ended with an easter egg hunt in the park. And then even more candy was delivered by the conductor when we were back on the train.

We ended our trip in Nashville, then drove home to Springfield. We arrived in Nashville late on a rainy night, and departed first thing next morning, so the last of our photos are from this hot sunny beautiful Easter Sunday in Knoxville. And that seems just about right to me. It was perfect, start to finish.