Most. Beautiful. Scenery. Ever.

We’re exhausted! And you would be too if you haven’t had much rest after 7 days on a vacation with 15 members of your extended family. It’s cliche, but we need a vacation from our vacation. We did a lot on our family trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and we will chronicle it all for you here!

The whole gang! From 7 to 82.

First off, we got to check another state off our list, since we have the goal of traveling to all 50 states. That was pretty awesome right off the bat. Our cabin had amazing views. The Smoky Mountains are just breathtaking. The first night we could see fireworks from Dollywood and most of us crowded onto the front porch to watch. We were actually close enough to Dollywood we could hear the train whistle.

We played a lot of of 5 Crowns and a new game (for us), the Mexican Train game.IMG_7043

Often times there were multiple games going, and at times, we could get pretty loud. As usual, trash talking was abundant. It was pretty amusing. If nothing else eventful would have happened, at the very least, the phrase, “a Jessica hand,” would have been coined. Jessica had a really awful hand in 5 Crowns during one game and literally went from first place to last place in a single hand by doubling her points. It was quickly termed “a Jessica hand,” and it stuck the rest of the week.


Our first big adventure was ziplining. And, we couldn’t go small on our first ever ziplining experience as we chose to do the Goliath. Talk about high! In fact, it’s 475 feet high. Big gulp! Chris loves heights. Jessica not as much. Despite that, we both enjoyed it. Chris’s uncle David and one of David’s sons, M, joined us. All the guys did a flip on the last zipline with a lot of encouragement from our guides. Jessica opted out, but said she would do ziplining again.

Ziplining was first on our must do list for this trip, and Dollywood was second. We rode all the roller coasters over two days. We ate some of their famous cinnamon bread and drank tons of water. It was really hot! We managed not to see any shows, but we spent a lot of time watching the artisans make different items. The glass blower was by far our favorite.

Chris wanted his picture with the plane, of course!
Roberta Dollywood car edit
Chris’s Aunt Paula captured the moment his mom, Roberta, rode on the car ride. Priceless!

We spent about 5 hours off the grid when we ventured into Cades Cove with Chris’s mom.

Even Chris got in on the hand on hip action 🙂

We saw some wildlife. There was a bear sighting, but all we managed to see was bear sightseers. We saw a lot of deer, horses, and a snake. Jessica was genuinely freaked out by the snake even though it was no where near us, but she could still function enough to take 20 pictures of single snake.

There was a lot of neat architecture there.

We definitely had many goofy moments on our trip around Cades Cove.

Chris and his mom humoring Jessica with her “group shadow picture.”
Inspired by the Olympics, Jessica (with some encouragement) showed off her (very limited) gymnastics moves. Chris and Roberta both gave her a 10, at least that’s how Jessica recalls it.

We did a lot of smaller activities, like…

  • Shopping. We mostly window shopped and bought Christmas gifts. Stopped in a couple of different places over the week, but the Moon Pie store was the cutest. Chris loves them and tried the strawberry flavor for the first time. He was disappointed they discontinued the orange flavor since he hadn’t tried that one before.


  • Putt Putt. Big thank you to Chris’s Uncle Charlie for treating the whole family. Roberta and I tied the first game, and she got a hole in one on the last hole. Not too shabby! The course was so nice. We all agreed it was probably the nicest one we had played.
  • Rode on an alpine coaster. That thing is fast!!!
  • Fed goats on a roof (and on the ground). Funny story: Chris went inside to inquire about goat food. The clerk asked how many children he had. Chris responded, “None. Just one wife.” Too funny! Jessica is definitely the wife that wants to feed and rescue all the animals.

At the end of the week, we went white water rafting with Chris’s uncle David and his family on the Pigeon River. It’s something we will be doing again for sure. We can’t say enough good things about the experience.


Like we said, it was a packed week, but we made a lot of memories. We aren’t sure when or where our next vacation will be, so we made the most of our time in Tennessee. Chris’s family was very gracious, and we appreciate their effort, time, and planning that went into the week.

We can’t wait to see what our next adventure will be. Maybe parenthood! As always, keep us in mind if you decide to place your child or know of someone who has decided adoption is best for their child. Feel free to share our journey and desire to adopt. You never know when or where our match could come.




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