So, while my husband and oldest son were driving across the United States and Canada last month, I thought it would be a good time to go on a little adventure of my own. I talked to my mom and told her we should run off for a day. She said, “OK. Where do you want to go?” Of course, I told her the mountains. That’s the thing about my mom. She gets me. We didn’t have to “have a plan,” and nothing had to be set in stone. A vague destination was fine. We just wanted to see what we could get into. My mom and step-dad picked up the kids and I on a Saturday morning and off we went.
Our first stop was in Maggie Valley. We saw a strip mall, so we had to shop, right? We noticed that there were VWs all over the place. The really cool vintage kind, like the little buses from the 60’s that aren’t as big as today’s SUVs. Those and, of course, the punch bugs. We found out from a shop owner that they were having an event called The VW Rally in the Valley.
So, we hit the road again. Our next stop was in a place called Soco. I’d never heard of it before, but my mom wanted to stop there because she recognized the name from the background of some pictures she had found of her parents in the mountains from back in the 1950’s. The store where we stopped had a 9 story observation tower that only cost .50 per person.
After some more shopping, we headed towards Cherokee.
And, of course, we had to listen to some appropriate music on the way, right?
Let me just say that I love Cherokee. I visited for the first time last spring for Mother’s Day and fell in love with the area. We shopped. I know, that’s a thing with me. The kids had their picture taken with a Cherokee Indian. That guy has the best job in the world. How cool would it be to wake up in the morning, play dress up by throwing on some customary ancestral clothes, and get paid to have pictures taken with people? One of my kids wouldn’t get in the picture. I couldn’t blame him. I could see how a strange man wearing feathers could be a little scary to a six year old.
We received directions to Mingo Falls from a shop owner. We drove the short ride, past one of the Reservation schools, to the trail head. I have to remark that it’s obvious the reservation invests a lot of money into their schools. The one we passed was amazing. If you like to gamble, go to Cherokee. If you lose your butt, at least you’ll know that some of your money will be going to something good. Anyway, we hiked up to the waterfall.
It was so peaceful, or it would have been if the kids weren’t fussing about wanting in the water. I know. I know. I would have done the same thing at their age, but it really didn’t look too safe. Especially for the Double Danger Duo. We took them to the Oconaluftee Island Park where we got our feet wet.
We weren’t ready to go home yet. We decided to keep driving. I love that about my parents. They don’t mind exploring. It makes life a little more fun. We drove to Gatlinburg. I wanted to get on the chair lift, but I didn’t really like the idea of my boys being on it with me. They are ….. ummmm…. hyper and one of them is fearless. Not a great combination at times. So, we found something that we could all do. The Mountain Coaster. It was a little pricey for a single ride, but it was fun. You basically get in this cart secured on rails and get pulled to the top. Once up there, the conveyor lets go and gravity takes over. Of course, you have a hand brake, but you are discouraged from using it. At speeds around thirty miles an hour, it could hurt to get hit from behind. I love the whole free falling feel. *Sigh*
We traveled on after our coaster ride. Our last stop was Pigeon Forge. They were having a really big car show. Knowing my step-dad, I’m sure that had something to do with our stop. We ate at a Mexican restaurant and then my step-dad excused himself, while the rest of us were finishing up, to look at some of the cars. With a full belly and a long ride ahead of us, we were finally ready to head home.