Alright, so first off let's clarify that SMOKY is actually a correct spelling of that word. Looks weird, right? According to dictionary.com the word smokey refers specifically to police cars, while smoky describes all things having to do with actual smoke. This is as great a shock to me as it is to you (unless you're Chrysta and you just happen to know these things as a result of your freakish' DNA).
With that out of the way, I'll tell you we had one flippin' good time. Great place to stay, great activities, GREAT FOOD, great company, GREATAMAZINGFABULOUS food. Did I mention that the food was outrageous? It was.
We all arrived Saturday and sat around starving while we waited for Chrysta to arrive with the food. Which she did around, oh, 1 or 2 AM if I'm not correct? Yes? Anyway, we eventually ate and we liked each other a lot more after that.
Sunday we laid around catching up and eating food (this will be a theme). Jerry and Sam - both triathletes (the former getting ready for his 2nd Iron Man), decided a scenic bike ride was in order. They left at approximately 10 AM and returned about 8 hours later. At which point we all went on a lovely waterfall hike. It was described to us as family-friendly. Meaning, if you place your children in a headlock the entire way they will narrowly avoid falling to their deaths over the sheer cliffs that lined the entire trail. In fact, while hiking the trail we happened upon a man who had done just that and was sitting, bloody, in the middle of the trail waiting for the National Park Service Search and Rescue team to, well, Rescue him. Happy Sunday everyone! We stepped gingerly over him and kept trekking. By the top my nerves were utterly shot and I was an anxious mess. Chase, who thinks nothing of risking his life, de-robed, climbed the rocks and held himself in the largest part of the waterfall for a few minutes. On the way back down the mountain we got to stand in line while the Search and Rescue team stabilized the aforementioned bloody man.
Monday began with the first Kilgore 5k run, which was later re-named the Fanny Autrey Memorial 5k (because our finish line was in a cemetery right next to dear Fanny's tombstone). Before setting out we drove around looking for a flat course. In the middle of the Smoky Mountains. So yeah. What we ended up finding was the Great Diablo Course From Hell. My IronMan brother was driving and I was in the backseat. My sisters-in-law Christy and Sara who are half-marathoners and triathletes respectively, were all, "Oh yeah, this looks okay." I was crying and shaking. So let's just cut this description short by saying that what I ran was the Fanny Autrey Memorial 2.5k. And I have zero shame. I nearly died on that course more than once. I will add that I cruised in at 21+ minutes AFTER my IronMan brother who finished the entire thing and then pranced around for a couple minutes before saying he needed to get more miles in and proceeded to run up the Pikes Peak look-alike that our lodge sat atop of.
In order, Triathlete, Army Guy, Half-Marathoner, IronMan, Triathlete, uh, me, Marathoner/Navy guy.
After the FAM5K (wow, that looks like Fam 5K, which is what it was), we gathered the rest of the crew and went tubing on the river. That was so sweet! There were lots of mild areas and lots of areas with rapids. At one point you could paddle over to the side and jump off a rope swing. All told it lasted about 2.5 hours and was a slamming good time. Cameron and Miles were able to go with us, too! Cam even got his own tube and we teamed up while Miles rode on daddy's lap. Cam got so good by the end that he was telling ME when to lift my bum to avoid slamming it into rocks (which I did - OUCH!).
Tuesday was free day #1 and we did some additional laying around before heading back to the Park to find a good swimming hole. We found one with some decent sized rocks and Chase, Jerry and a couple of the kids decided to jump off of them. This, of course, set the scene for Wednesday.
I can't let Tuesday end without including our Iron Chef cook-off. There were so many good dishes I almost became diabetic. Mmmmm...
Wednesday. The boys had their usual golf day in the morning and when they arrived home that afternoon we decided to go jump off some cliffs. I am not usually one to do things like cliff jumping, but I figured why not. When we arrived we saw a sign that detailed exactly how many deaths had occurred at that location and advised us not to "be next." That's always encouraging.
So we hiked up to the spot and jumped in:) My first jump was nearly fatal, I'll admit. I lost my nerve just as I was jumping and ended up kinda falling. My husband and brother were NOT happy, but I resolved to try again. It looked VERY high from the top but once you were at the bottom it looked manageable.
Chase, Jerry and Scott all took turns scaring the daylights out of me by jumping off higher rocks or doing backflips off the cliffs (and asking me to TAPE their almost-deaths! WHO DOES THAT?! "Hey honey. I'm going to try to kill myself. Can you make sure to hit the record button on time?!"). Anyway, it ended up being a freaking good time.
Just FYI, we're meeting with our insurance agent (Bro-in-law) tonight to discuss more life insurance. Not kidding.
Bird Bird and Carl about to launch
My brother, Scott. He can fly planes and go to POW training but jumping off of cliffs is a little scary.
Thursday was Girls Day Out (a much-anticipated day by all the females over the age of 12). We hit Gatlinburg for some window-shopping and people-watching. Good things to do in Gatlinburg - lots to see:) We mostly just enjoyed being together. I'm blessed to have sisters and sisters-in-law who are just rad. I just love being with them.
That evening the real party began with Kilgore Idol. I've already posted some videos of the event but let me tell you it was AAAAAAA-Mazing. Who knew we had so much raw talent in our family? Mom and Dad even joined in the fun! Sara earned some serious UMC bonus points when she appeared looking like this to sing Pat Benatar. Ooohhhhh yeah.
Friday was the last real day of the reunion and a free day. We started by hitting Ober Gatlinburg to do the Alpine slide and some other rides before heading back to the cliffs for some more jumping. After everyone returned for jumping I served Heart Attack Chili for dinner followed by Coronary Cupcakes. Mmmm...
Saturday it was time to pack up and head west. A horrendously sad day. I'm not going to bother giving you the details of our 15 hours in the car. You can probably guess.
But it was totally worth it:) Love my fam.