Our "wilderness" trip entailed both a stay at the "Wilderness in the Smokies" waterpark lodge and an actual trek through the "wilderness" in the Smokey Mountains National Park.
Our first stop was the water park. We got there a little after noon and immediately went to the outdoor park first. Finn and Sam both warmed up on one of the smaller slides. Then I took Sam up to do the big double float slide. He was a nervous wreck and almost "lost it" when I put him into the float. I had to lace my feet under his armpits and squeeze so that he wouldn't jump out. The lifeguard gave us a push and off we went down the tube slide. When we hit the bottom, Sam immediately yelled "THAT WAS AWESOME! I want to do it again."
His second time down the tube slide was with Papa. From that moment on, Sam rode every slide that he was physically big enough to ride and loved every second.
Finn did great too. His first slide was a fast, solo slide, with no inter-tube. But, like Sam, he came out euphoric and looking for more.
I didn't have any swimming trunks for Will, so he took the "European" approach to swimwear.
For mid-April it was surprisingly warm. I didn't realize that there would be outdoor slides, so I didn't bring sunscreen. Emily let me use hers, but after a couple of hours we decided to give their shoulders a break from the sun and bring the boys to the inside portion.
The slides were easily better inside, but the humidity was gross. The boys' first stop was the to wave pool.
The boys spent most of their time on the big multi-rider raft slides. The "Green Slide", as Sam calls it, was his absolute favorite. He rode it with me, Michael, and Finn; then with Uncle Zac; then with Nana (and two other kids because Sam and Nana didn't make the weight limit); then with Me, Finn, Nana and Papa. Finn's favorite ride was the "Orange Slide." This slide had a height requirement and was pretty terrifying. At one point you go down (what appears to be an almost vertical drop) into a huge funnel. I wish that I had been able to capture the look of sheer terror on Finn's face as we dropped down into the funnel. But once we got in the funnel, Finn was yelling with pure joy. He loved it and rode it again with Michael, Zac and Papa.
When I wasn't sliding, I sat and held Will. By around four o'clock he was exhausted and couldn't keep his eyes open.
We decided to go to the rooms around 5:30. We were all starving and needed to get showered for dinner. The rooms were so neat - especially the bunk beds. The five older boys bunked with Nana and Papa, while M.J., Zac, Michael, Will and I stayed in the other room.
After getting cleaned up, we went into Pigeon Forge to eat at Mellow Mushroom. On our way out of the hotel, Finn offered "curb side" service to his cousins.
The boys at Mellow Mushroom - they really enjoy each other's company.
Will didn't have quite as much fun. He mostly sat and fed himself leftover black beans and corn from my earlier lunch.
Next we walked over to the Christmas Village Hotel for the 8:00 p.m. milk and cookies. On the way over, we saw Finn and Hank take off together. Emily looked a little nervous and I told her not to worry, and specifically stated that Finn was "really responsible." Well, the second those words left my mouth we lost sight of them and couldn't find them. As I was hurrying around the building, an SUV stopped and the driver told me that the boys were around front swinging on poles. I finally caught up with them as they darting across the street. So much for "really responsible."
All the boys enjoyed the Christmas hotel. Which is a good thing because they were probably the only ones in the building who were. Within just a few moments, we managed to run everyone out of the serene sitting area.
Will liked sticking his finger in the reindeer's nostril. He would do this and then laugh. He also took a liking to a drum covered in glitter and a Christmas bow. This was easily Will's favorite event.
The next morning, Nana presented Sam with his "First Trip to Disney" book. She has made one for each of the boys, but gave Sam and Quinn their books first, because it was their first trip. Sam loves his book. He is so proud of it. (He took it to school today.)
Our next big event was the hike to the two sister's cabin.
Our "starting" picture. I carried Will the whole time. He did pretty good.
We accidentally parked in the wrong place, so we had about a half mile walk uphill to the school house.
The first building was the old school house. Nana tried her best to evoke excitement. But, alas she was not successful.
What did evoke excitement or, at least laughter, was Michael's "short cut." This took him a pretty long time to navigate out of. He also had faced multiple thorn bushes.
This is me taking a picture of Finn with his generic GoPro. He brought his camera and took pictures of flowers, salamanders and snakes. He was so precious.
Yet, another "so-called" shortcut.
Here we are at the two sister's cabin.
In all, it took us a couple of hours to cover two miles. The boys were pretty slow, but overall did well. I think that Finn really enjoyed it. Sam was pretty lethargic - and as we learned later, was sick.
On our way out, we "all" crawled into Nana's van and went back down to get the other cars.
Last we had a picnic lunch. It was a great trip - and I hated to see it end.