Saturday, September 20, 2014


Over Labor Day weekend, we went camping in Cades Cove with Mark & Sarah's family and my friend Brianna and her kids. It was the first time we've gone camping with other people, and it was just SO much fun. The kids especially had an amazing time. Altogether there was a 6-year-old, four 4-year-olds, a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old, and a 5-month-old. The big kids all played together SO well the whole time. Patrick and Lillie fit right in! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Mark and Sarah and their girls were driving up from Atlanta and planned to meet us at the campsite in the afternoon. Those of us in Knoxville decided to go earlier in the day and go hiking before we headed to the campground. We went on a fun but very long hike to Abrams Falls. The kids did great on the way to the waterfall, but on the way back Jamie especially got whiny and wanted to be held. He also kept tripping over and over, poor guy. The waterfall itself was beautiful and putting our feet (or in some cases, more than our feet) in the icy water felt amazingly good on that hot, humid day. Jamie just loved playing in that water! Unfortunately, the hike took longer than we anticipated and then there was a lot of very slow traffic on the Cades Cove loop road, meaning we got to the campground a few hours later than we had planned on. I felt awful because we had no cell reception and consequently no way to contact Mark and Sarah to let them know! When we got stuck in the traffic, Thomas actually got out and biked to the campsite to try and let them know as soon as possible that we were okay and on our way, but he only got there a few minutes before we did.

Once we finally made it there, we got the tents set up, and it was already time to get the fire going so we could make dinner. That night we had tin foil dinners that Sarah made and s'mores afterwards. We also tried making Pillsbury breadsticks and crescent rolls over the fire (a big hit!) and roasting Starbursts (sounds weird but turned out to be delicious). We had brought some games but it took a long time to get all the kids settled into bed, and then the bugs and impending rainstorm sent the adults to bed not long afterwards.
Thomas showing everyone the first of many weird little caterpillars we found. They turned out to be a big hit with the kids.
camping baby! Jacob did all right. He slept about like at home (and this was before the crazy teething insomnia hit).
Christine's favorite activity turned out to be filling her shorts with rocks. It was so funny and cute.
That night there was a crazy storm. The downpour was so intense that poor Brianna and her kids, whose tent had no tarp and who were sleeping just on blankets on the ground, got flooded out of their tent in the middle of the night. We saw the headlights and heard their car drive off in the middle of the night and just felt awful for them! They spent the rest of the night at home and were happily able to rejoin us in the morning.

That morning we had hot chocolate, chocolate chip pancakes, and fruit for breakfast. Thomas went on a bike ride, and the kids spent forever playing on and around this big rock in our campsite; then Sarah, Brianna, and I took them on a nature hike, leaving the men and Jacob back at the campsite to rest.
This rock was THE place to be for the big kids.
Jamie prepared these scavenger hunt bags for everyone for the nature hike.
I was so impressed with how well he wrote everyone's names!
sleepy Christine

After the hike, it was time for lunch. Later in the afternoon, we went to a nearby creek to play in the water. I didn't stay that long because I had Jacob in the Ergo, but I wish I could have! The water felt great and it was a beautiful area.

Afterwards there was more playing on the rock, more playing with caterpillars, more fire building, and a dinner of hot dogs followed by more s'mores. It started raining again while we were making dinner but fortunately most of it held off until the night again. Brianna's family left that evening while the rest of stayed one more night. The worst part of that night was that Thomas misplaced our car keys just as it was getting dark. We searched and searched but it was very difficult with nothing but flashlights; fortunately Thomas finally found them. . . in the trunk key hole. It was very frustrating during the short time they were lost, but we are so thankful it turned out all right in the end.
Elena had a caterpillar on her head!
everyone wants to see the caterpillars!
the smoke made it hard to get good pictures near the fire
In the morning we got everything packed up while the kids continued playing on the rock! Jamie was NOT happy when it was time to leave and kept whining about wanting more time at that rock. Unfortunately the camping trip ended with him having a meltdown as we left, but he quickly recovered with some snacks in the car.
camping brothers :)

And just in case this post didn't already have enough pictures.... One of the perks of being friends with Brianna is that she is a fantastic photographer. She took our family pictures a year and a half ago and also did Jacob's newborn pictures, and she thoughtfully shared her camping pictures with the rest of us. She took MANY wonderful photos but I'll just put a few of my favorites.
Abrams Falls
They loved playing in the tents! Especially this one :)
Jacob with Aunt Sarah
These crazy caterpillars were all over the place!
I LOVE this one!
love these toes :)
We had such a wonderful weekend!!

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