My recent posting of photos of Iowa during the summer of 2011 made me think of the week after those photos were taken. It was the every-other-year family reunion, held that year in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
We stayed at the Wilderness at the Smokies.
Family fun at a water park resort (fun for my 25 year old daughter and my younger nieces and nephews … fun for older folks to watch them!) plus trips into the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas made for a very enjoyable time.
My Dad and I drove through part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the trees and streams seemed so familiar to me, similar to places I have lived in the States … yet foreign compared to my surroundings in the Bergen, Norway area.
One day my Dad, youngest daughter and I retraced a remembered vacation moment my Mom and Dad had taken years earlier. My Mom passed away in 2008; she and Dad shared a great marriage and love, and hearing Dad reminisce about their travels keeps her close to all our hearts. Mom particularly enjoyed a specific restaurant they had visited, and Dad was able to find it: The Wild Plum Tea Room. We enjoyed a delicious lunch accompanied by the warm memories. It was a special visit.
After our lunch, we drove into Gatlinburg and took the Aerial Tramway up the mountain. Again … it was familiar to my “I used to live in the U.S.” eyes, but the vegetation and mountain shapes were so foreign compared to the landscape that surrounds Bergen!
Once up there, we discovered … a tourist trap! I’m sure there were things to do that would appeal to many families, but for my daughter and my Dad and me, we just walked around, people-watched, and then found a faster way out of the area, back to the Aerial Tramway, and down the mountain … even if that way DID say “Not an Exit” … my Dad is such a rebel! 🙂 My daughter and I were happy to follow him.
Because there was water park fun, I thought I’d share a photo I took from our room’s balcony of a small part of the outdoor water park area … family is in this photo, enjoying the sun, water and each other!
And then one last photo, taken as we were going into dinner at a local restaurant.
Family times together make this expat happy!