May 20, 2015

The Dargatz Family Heads South. . . . .Hurry Horsies

Well, the meteorologists were right. The next day of our trip was gloomy. But our positive attitudes and flexibility turned that disappointment into opportunity.  The beginning portion of the day wasn't ideal for hiking, but it was just fine for a trip in the train on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

Just like her daddy, Embry is a "chugga chugga choo choo" enthusiast. We love seeing trains, riding on trains, and even playing with trains. So it was no surprise that Embry lit up and squealed when the train was in sight. Her love of trains was crucial as this ride literally was a three hour tour.

We enjoyed some spectacular sights and learned some impressive historical facts. I could list a bunch of them off right here, but rather than do that, you can borrow the books and DVD set I purchased in the ride whenever you'd like. Just ask. :)

The sights and sounds of a real live steam engine weren't the only sensory wonders we experienced while riding the rails. With Embry's birthday being so near, the bluegrass duo that sung and strummed up through each coach sang a birthday song in her honor.

Now the three hour ride did have a break for lunch. Embry of course was distracted by the nearby waterfall, or freefall. While we ate, the train's engine maneuvered some switches and side tracks and ended up switching around to what used to be the back to send us back into town.

When we arrived, we left the train and headed to the gift shop and railroad museum where we were blown away by an amazing set of model railroad cars. Quite possibly, it was the most impressive model railroad display I've ever witnessed, and I am a self-proclaimed train geek.

By then, we were railroaded out, but the weather had turned for the better and there was plenty of daylight left to explore. We decided on hitting up an area on the south end of Great Smoky National park that a trio of waterfalls tucked fairly close together.

Words can only so so much, so hopefully this brief display of pictures will showcase just a portion of our fun on the trail.

One memory I will cherish is that while hiking, we ran into a group of horses and their riders. Embry was a bit tired at that point but seeing those equines charged her battery and we spent the rest of the hike trying to catch the horses with Embry directing traffic the whole time. "Hurry horsies" was probably repeated a hundred times. While we never did officially catch up, we did see them one last time from a distance, as depicted below.

After a day on the choo choo and the trails, it was time for some relaxation AKA alcohol. This leads me to

TRIP TAKEAWAY #6 - In the South, liquor store means liquor. No beer. 

Our plan wasn't thwarted as we did find a local grocery store with a limited but delicious selection. 

Back to the cabin it was, with some more birthday gifts to unwrap, some lounging in the hot tub, and some imbibing. Before we could get going, Embry spent time with a game provided by the cabin. Apparently, she is a lover of words and letters, following in her father's footsteps. 

Embry enjoyed her new toys and bubbles and mom and dad enjoyed some beverages.

All in a good day's work.

What would the next day bring? Here's a sneak peek.

High elevation. Appalachian Trail. Animal friendly bar.

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