Sunday, January 31, 2016

weekend in gatlinburg

drive to gatlinburg
We planned a last minute trip to Gatlinburg for Martin Luther King Jr weekend.  We stopped at Fuddrucker's in Asheville for lunch and the kids (especially Nick) made good use of the toppings bar. After we checked into our hotel, we enjoyed all of the Christmas lights decorating the streets and stopped in for the most delicious pizza at Best Italian Pizzeria.  Then it was back to the room so everyone could get some sleep (or "guggle" for a bit like Ellie wanted).

ben and the jellies
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies was our first stop the next morning.  While we did drive through Gatlinburg on our big road trip last summer, we didn't have a lot of time to explore, so we made sure to hit some of the big touristy stops on this trip.

The sawfish, which are related to rays and very similar to sharks, are one of the most interesting looking species at the aquarium.

all the kids
-the Albaeck five-

thru the tunnel
Ellie loved the moving walkway through the aquarium tunnels and laughed excitedly as the creatures would swim over her head.

tunnel fun
The big kids checking out the sea life.

lovin' it
Miss Ellie LOVED the aquarium!

fish all around
Checking out the fish from every angle.

loving the lion fish
Ellie was completely enamored with the lion fish and tried to get it to move by making faces and pretending to poke it.

fish and crabs
So many interesting things to see!


The kids loved watching the rays glide effortlessly around their tank.

Playful penguins!

with the penguins
The kids all crawled through a tube and into the penguin exhibit.

touch tank
Our last stop at the aquarium was the giant stingray touch tank.  Nick, Ben, and Lexie all tried to touch the rays and Christopher entertained Ellie-- he wanted no part of touching!

aerial tram to ober gatlinburg
After lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, we made our way to Ober Gatlinburg and took the aerial tram up to the top of the mountain.

When we got to the top and the kids saw the skating rink, they convinced us that we just HAD to go ice skating.

ready for fun!
Excited to get on the ice (although Ellie definitely looks unsure!).

ellie on the ice
Ellie made one lap around the rink before wanting out of her skates!

ice skating
The big kids, on the other hand, had a blast!

more ice skating
Skating fun :)

ice in the smokies
After checking out of our hotel the next morning, we drove through Great Smoky Mountain National Park on our way home.  The icicles along the side of the road were impressive!

We stopped to check out some icicles-- Nick stayed in the car to keep Ellie company.

newfound gap
The view from Newfound Gap is one of my favorite views of the Smokies.  We crossed into North Carolina and had an uneventful drive home.  While I love planning our trips out in detail well in advance, I also love the spontaneity of a last-minute weekend getaway.

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