Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Summer Fun

I returned home from Amy's wedding to unpack, wash clothes, pay bills, catch up on household chores, and finally...repack all within a week's time. Rachel was headed to North Carolina for a month-long summer dance intensive. My sister, Nancy, joined Rachel and I for this road trip. After all the wedding planning and festivities, I think she was due for a "sister's trip"!

Nancy, Rachel and I headed out of town about 4:30 a.m. on July 1, hoping to arrive in Charlotte by dark. I think this was the easiest road trip we have ever taken to Charlotte. After weeks of sweltering heat, we enjoyed awesome cool weather on the day of our trip. We stopped for a picnic lunch in TN and it was actually quite cool in the shade! We had no traffic delays and pulled into Wendy's (baby sister) driveway 961 miles after leaving home and just before 9:00 p.m. EST.

Sister's Pic

July 2 we just enjoyed visiting and playing with Emily & Brooke. Friday, Wendy took us shopping at the Metrolina Expo. It's a large expo of booths selling everything from antiques to artwork to gifts. Then, Nancy treated us to pedicures and what a treat it was! What a fun day we had. Saturday we celebrated Independence Day! Wendy & Brad live in a great neighborhood and every year they have a parade on July 4. The kids decorate their bikes, scooters, power wheels, and some parents even decorate floats and cars. Emily rode her bike and Brooke rode her scooter all decked out in red, white, and blue. What fun to watch all the kids having such a great time, making great memories! Brad fired up the grill for a cookout that night with some of his family and a neighbor family.
Fun on the 4th
Brad, Brooke, Wendy & Bentley

Sunday, July 5, was check-in day for Rachel. After lunch, Nancy and I drove her to University of North Carolina at Charlotte and moved her into the dorm. We got to meet her roommate and suitemates and their parents before we left. If I didn't already know my "little" girl was growing up - she let me know that day. She had us help her take everything out of the suitcases, assemble the drying rack, etc. and then she said, "Emily and I will get our room organized how we want it after you leave." I took that as my cue that it was time to say our goodbyes. What a difference a year makes. She asked me not to cry because she knew it would make her cry so I tried my best to hold up my end of the deal. I did okay but, I did feel a few tears fall on my cheeks as I turned to leave. She had lots to do to get settled in that night and to be ready to start classes Monday morning."Roomies" - Rachel & Emily P.

Monday was spent shopping at Southpark Mall after lunch at Cheesecake Factory. My girlie called that night to say she LOVED her classes and had a great day. A great report for this mom's heart! Rachel's dorm room was really cold so we borrowed an extra blanket from Aunt Wendy and delivered it to her after classes on Wednesday. I said goodbye again knowing that I was headed toward home the next day and wouldn't see her again for at least 3 weeks.

Before leaving on our trip, Nancy and I had decided to spend a couple of nights in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN on the way home. We were delighted when it worked out for Wendy to join us for those two nights. We set out Thursday morning, headed for a lunch stop in Ashville, NC. We had a great lunch at a Greek cafe and walked around downtown Ashville before heading on to the mountains. We ran into a bit of rain after leaving Ashville but it wasn't bad until my windshield wiper blade started coming the middle of nowhere!! Wendy's following me and I'm driving as best I can when it's finally evident I'm going to have to pull over and try to fix the wiper or wait until the rain stops (and it doesn't look like it's stopping anytime soon). I found an abandoned gas station with a cover to stop under. I get out to tell Wendy why we are stopped and I'm trying to fix my wiper and realize it's NOT going to go back together and the blade is separating from the wiper. Wendy came to the rescue with a ponytail holder!! So, picture me wrapping a ponytail holder around my wiper blade on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Hey, it worked!! As we drove into Gatlinburg, I spotted a Napa store so I stopped and bought a blade and was so thankful for the saleman putting it on the van for me!! Note to self: learn how to replace a wiper blade. We arrived at our condo, unpacked the car and headed to dinner at Joses. Awesome Mexican restaurant!! We did a little shopping around the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge after dinner and then headed back to the condo to map out a plan for Friday. Friday morning we started with an awesome breakfast at The Old Mill to fuel our bodies for the shopping and sightseeing we had planned for the day. After breakfast we drove in to Gatlinburg shopped in the downtown area. Lots of neat little shops there, especially at The Village. Next, we decided a drive in the mountains was a great way to rest our feet. We drove through some of Smoky Mountain National Park and took lots of pictures - it was gorgeous!! Back from our mountain drive, we decided to take a lunch break but couldn't decide what to have so we did what all good mom's do when they are on a trip with no kids - we had Baskin Robbins ice cream for lunch. We drove back to Pigeon Forge and hit the outlet mall and the Incredible Christmas Place. There's nothing like shopping in a multi-building Christmas store when it's about 90 outside. We finished the shopping we had planned to do for the day and we weren't really ready for dinner so we pondered what to do. Finally, we decided to drive back to Gatlinburg and drive the 5 mile loop we had skipped earlier in the day. So, we start down this loop road and it's just like a regular road for a while. Pretty scenery along the way. Then, we see a sign that the "loop" is beginning and it becomes a one way road. Well, can you say "sweaty palms"? I was driving but I could not look out my side window for some of the drive - it was straight down...a...long...way...down! It was a beautiful drive but it was a little scary at times. My family would never believe I drove on that road. We finally finished the loop drive and decided on a late dinner at Red Lobster. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying our last hours together, knowing it might be next summer before we are all together again.

Smoky Mountain National Park
A picture from the "loop" drive : )
The Old Mill - Pigeon Forge, TN
Fun at the Incredible Christmas Place, Pigeon Forge, TN

Gatlinburg, TN
The Village

The Village Fountain

Saturday morning we packed our cars and headed our separate ways - Wendy back home to Charlotte; Nancy and I back to Fort Smith. Nancy and I had a good drive home and were glad we had shaved a few hours off of our trip by not driving straight from Charlotte. I was thankful to have spent a week with my sisters and so happy that the three of us were able to spend a couple of nights together in the mountains with no kids and no hubby's - just us girls!!