After our adventure at Mammoth Cave, we drove to Knoxville, Tennessee. The next day we weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do except to drive to Pigeon Forge. That morning was Sunday, and my husband surprised all of us by saying we were going to church! I had tried to pack lightly for the trip, so none of us had “church” clothes. Even all of our jeans were dirty (from the cave adventure)! My daughters had brought a play dress each, but they were definitely for play (a little stained, etc.) I know it’s a little silly, but my only hesitation about going to church was whether we’d be dressed appropriately.
Through a search from the website The National Center for Family Integrated Churches (see here), we found one only 15 minutes away. You never know exactly what you’ll get with family-integrated. Some are wonderful, and some are extremely legalistic. Also, we were in the south now, where people do tend to dress up for church more. But we decided to just do it. If we didn’t “fit in” wearing shorts and (and me wearing pants), too bad. We wanted to worship the Lord anyway!
Well, we were so pleasantly surprised! It was a wonderful church with some of the most friendly people I had ever met! The preaching and music were both great. We were invited to stay for lunch at least 20 times, so we decided to stay. Even the lunch was laid back and comfortable. During the lunch fellowship I told one of the ladies we were planning on going to Dollywood the next day. (Everyone I had told that we were going to the Smoky Mountains said we HAD to go to Dollywood!) I expressed my disappointment about the cost and that through my thorough searching I could find no discounts. Well, she had connections and got us tickets for 30% off, saving us almost $90!
The next day we spent at Dollywood, and yes, it was definitely worth it! Our family, being so young, is not an amusement park family, but Dollywood worked out great for us.
Below are some of the things we did:
My older son really wanted to ride this roller coaster. After doing it, he decided roller coasters weren’t for him!
We spent a lot of time at this mini-ropes course.
The carousel–always big hit with the kids.
On the big steam engine that took us up into the mountains:
All the kids on the kiddie rides. I love how even my 9 yo son got into it!
The big ropes course. My husband and oldest four kids went. It was so high off the ground!
We went to 3 shows and saw some master craftsmen at work (glass blowing, woodworking, sand-casting, and candle-making). A very fun day!
Tomorrow–In the Smoky Mountains