This year, for our homeschool, we started a new curriculum; My Father’s World: Exploring Countries and Cultures. I chose this curriculum, which focuses on world geography and learning about different cultures and ecosystems, after realizing that my children had a “gap” in their knowledge of geography.
My Father’s World: Exploring Countries and Cultures spends a year going through the seven continents and several different countries therein, in order (starting with North America). At the same time, it explores several different ecosystems, such as forest, desert, grasslands, etc.
The study of the United States coincides with the study of forests, and one of the assignments was to start a leaf collection. While Florida does have lots of forest land, there are no pretty leaves (meaning fall colors), so I used this assignment as an excuse to visit with some friends in the mountains of Tennessee at the peak fall color season!
It was a short trip, we (eight of us, the three high schoolers couldn’t make it) left on a Saturday and returned on a Wednesday, traveling 10+ hours each way — but we had fun! The weather was PERFECT. A bit “crispy”, but not too cold. And the rain that was in the forecast never materialized. (Thank you, Jesus.)
The Weekend: Coker Creek, TN
We arrived in Tennessee on Saturday evening around supper time, and spent the remainder of the evening and Sunday catching up with friends in Coker Creek, Tennessee.
Smoky Mountains Day 1: Gatlinburg, TN
On Monday we headed into Gatlinburg, where we splurged on delicious pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. (Orange Walnut, Chocolate Chip, Sugar & Spice, “Bears in the Snow”…Mmmm!)
The rest of the day was spent browsing through the little touristy shops…
In the evening we checked into our rented cabin, The Sugar Bear, where we grilled turkey hotdogs and s’mores for supper and enjoyed a warm, toasty fire in the fireplace.
Smoky Mountains Day 2: Mountain Trail, Apple Fritters, & Christmas Shops
On our second day in the Smoky Mountains, we woke up to a cool crisp morning (in the 40s), and enjoyed Apple Pie Oatmeal in the cabin before heading out to explore nature and look for the vibrant autumn leaves that we’d traveled so far a distance to see.
We headed again to Gatlinburg, where we took the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to the Trillium Gap Trail for a serene mountain hike to a small waterfall and back. (Dee described the hike as “awesome”).
Our long walk helped us all work up hearty appetites so we headed back to Pigeon Forge for “lupper” (our word for a lunch/supper combined meal) at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. I love this restaurant/series of gift shops! It’s been years since we’ve gone there.
A word of caution, there is always a long wait, even at the least busy times of the day (we arrived at about 2:30 in the afternoon and still had a 45 minute wait), so don’t arrive too hungry! The weather outside was PERFECT during our wait (plus complimentary apple cider was served), so we certainly didn’t mind. It gave the shoppers among us a chance to browse in the shops/apple cider barn, while the non-shoppers enjoyed the nice fall breeze while relaxing in a big white gazebo until it was time to be seated.
Worth the wait. While the food is somewhat expensive (I know I mention that a lot, but as a mom of many, I feel it’s an important detail), the portions are large, and the best part — the thing that makes me want to keep coming back — is the complimentary apple fritters and julep. I have never seen apple fritters served anywhere else. Soooo good! (Did I mentioned I gained five pounds during our five day vacation?)
After eating, we stopped by another of my old favorites, Christmas Place, a year round Christmas themed shopping village, also in Pigeon Forge.
And at last we headed back to our rented cabin for our last night, where we drank hot chocolate and sorted and laminated our collected leaves.
Although it’s always great to be home, the trip was much too short. I had a lot more I wanted to do and see, but there wasn’t enough time. (Maybe next year we can plan for a week.) There was this, however, on our last morning at the cabin, bidding us goodbye (the morning sunrise view from the deck):