July was a busy month for us, as we traveled with each of our four grandchildren. The first week was spent in Gatlinburg with Cameron, then we drove up to Ron’s brother Gary’s cabin in the hills of Kentucky for our
“Christmas in July”

The view from his cabin almost makes you feel as if you’re still in the Smokies.

Seventeen family members were able to attend.

Gary had planned the event well, right down to a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree and animated Santa.

Everyone spent the night, then we, along with granddaughters Chelsey and Alyssa, returned to Gatlinburg.


“Our Time with the Kids”

The two weeks in the Smokies with the kids followed the same pattern with the exception of the first day with Cameron, when we took a side trip through the Cumberland Gap area. We spent some time there hiking up to the original gap through the mountains that Daniel Boone used when first crossing the Appalachians.

Our pictures here on the blog page and in the slideshow (accessible at end of this post) are a combination of both weeks, the first with Cameron, and the second with the girls. Our first day each week in the Smokies was spent driving over the mountains from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC.

Cameron’s week held lots of rain showers, and the views really pointed out how the mountains earned their name.

However during the next week, the views were much different.

Of course, the highlight of a drive in the mountains is the hike up to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the Smokies.

Although the dome was partially enshrouded in clouds both times, the clouds still parted enough for us to get some great photo opportunities.

Everyone enjoyed the stops along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, but perhaps Cameron most of all, as we spotted a mother bear and two cubs.

A seven mile road winds through the Artisan community. We stopped to watch a potter “throw” a dish, and really enjoyed the demonstration by a dulcimer builder.

The day we hiked to Laurel Falls was the exciting day for the girls when they had their chance to spot bears. A mother and her triplets crossed the trail while we were at the falls.

One of the little ones became alarmed and scampered up a tree. We got lots of photos before Mama decided to return for him.

Ron and I made a trip to the Smokies around 1980. One of the few attractions in Gatlinburg that looks familiar still is the Ober Gatlinburg Tram and chairlift, so we wanted the grandchildren to experience it with us again.

The tram travels about halfway up the mountain…

Then the chairlift takes you to the top…

Where a trio performs mountain music all day.

After the trip to the Smokies, we picked up our oldest granddaughter, Cassandra. Her choice of destination was much different from the others. Last year, one of her college classes was in anthropology. After reading of the Cahokia Indian Mounds in western Illinois, she wanted to see them.

We spent two mornings exploring the large area.

We were intrigued by a large “sundial” that has been recreated. It is believed that the Indians used this as their annual calendar, marking the seasons by the shadows cast from the poles.

A scenic drive along the Mississippi River

Took us to Grafton. We found the portions at a local fish market to be almost overwhelming. The catfish (one of Grandpa’s favorite choices) and the buffalo fish, lower left in picture, (Cassie and I were brave enough to try it) are caught from the river each morning, and served for lunch that day.

Along the drive a painting on the bluff caught our eye. We learned the painting is of Piasa, a legendary creature . In 1673, when Marquette and Joliet explored the area, they found such a painting, and were told by the Indians it was a “bird that devours men”. The Indians were very superstitious of the area.

We stopped for a tour atop a lock and dam on the river, although we were not fortunate enough to catch a barge making it’s way through the locks.

Our last stop of the trip was New Harmony, IN.

After viewing the exhibits and film in the Interpretive center, we walked the streets of the village. Cassie was intrigued by the two labyrinths, one of stone, and one of hedge.

It’s been a great month, traveling with the kids, and we’re glad we had the opportunity.

We are now back at McCormick’s Creek, and as soon as I can get Grandpa to wake up, we’ll be back on the job camp-hosting.

For a slide show of more photos from the trips, click here.



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