The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

When my mom originally booked our three bedroom (2 bedroom with a lock off 1 bedroom) at The Lodges at Great Smokey Mountains, we had thought my sister’s family of 9 would be joining us, but due to a change in departure time for my niece’s semester in Mexico, they were unable to.  So, my mom and I were left with three bedrooms and just the two of us.

We quickly tried to think of anyone who might not have family plans and would be able come with us.  We immediately thought of our Chinese friend from our Spring Break adventure the last time we were in Tennessee.  So, we called Hannah, and she said yes!

So, yesterday (12/20/15), we drove from Ohio to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, by way of Huntsville, Alabama.

10 Seconds til Bread

10 Seconds til Bread!

When we arrived at our resort, we decided to head to Dollywood to be there by 6, so we could finish the night and get Hannah the best value–after 6:00 P.M. one day and the entire next day for the price of one day.  We got to Dollywood in time to make it to the 6:30 production of O Holy Night.  Mom and Hannah staked our claim at the show, while I went to stand in line for cinnamon bread.  The fact that the line stretched out the door lends credence to my claim that this is the best cinnamon bread ever!  I ended up missing the show, since they were done before I got the bread, but it was well worth the wait!!  We devoured it!

We next decided to take the train around to look at the lights.  We quickly realized that, though the lights looked cool, it was not worth freezing over!  The wind was frigid and many places were not clear to see in the dark.


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

We then went to see ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  This play takes a humorous look at the traditional Christmas poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  In the play, a family is trying desperately to be together for the holidays.  The youngest girl in the family makes a Christmas wish for them all to be together for the holidays.  Through a series of interventions from “Nick,” many Christmas miracles abound, and the family is able to be together.  It’s a fun heart warming show, and was a good way to round out our evening.

It was a fun day, and we were able to see a lot in just three hours.  After that, we headed home to finish unpacking, and get ready for a full day at Dollywood in the morning.


The Wild Eagle Ride–with a gigantic drop!

Dollywood opened today (12/21/15) at 11:00 and closed at 9:00.  I think we packed more into those 10 hours than just about anyone else could have.  Because Hannah likes roller coasters, we wanted to expose her to some of the American variety before she returns to China.  We met up with another family who liked big roller coasters (we don’t), and they adopted her to go along with their family for the rides.  She first tried the Tennessee Tornado–a fast coaster which takes you upside down 3 times.  She enjoyed it, but said her heart was racing when she got off.  We then challenged her to go on the Wild Eagle–challenged, because this was the one ride she had said she thought would be too scary for her.  But, she accepted the challenge and did it!  She did, however, also decide she was through with roller coasters for a while.

Eagle Sanctuary

Since the first show we wanted to visit was at 3:00, we decided to use the time to look in all the shops.  It is fun to see so much of American culture through the eyes of someone from another county.  We had a great time sharing our heritage and learning about Chinese culture in return.  From the glass blowers to the wood carvers, to the eagle sanctuary and the old school house, we got to explain so much of life and early America, that, as a teacher and former teacher, we truly loved sharing.

A Christmas Carol

Our first big show was Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  This was perfect for us, since it is an American Classic.  We had explained the story to Hannah earlier, and now she got to see it acted out.  This is the newest show at Dollywood, and truly an excellent opportunity.   I would definitely recommend it!

After the show, we went to see My People again.  Dolly’s brother wasn’t at the show we saw, which was a disappointment.  Since another man was saying the lines he usually says, I wondered if he left the show or just wasn’t there for that particular show.

View of Dollywood from the top of the Ferris Wheel

When the show finished, we headed to the county fair.  Since we were trying to expose Hannah to as much of American culture as possible, we explained the idea of county fairs. The one at Dollywood is a classic example.  I made Hannah ride the Ferris wheel–the county fair standard. Like the Wild Eagle, this ride was a bit stretching for her–especially when the carriage rocks at the very top, but she survived.

We finished the evening off with Christmas in the Smokies, rounding out a very full day.  Tomorrow will be another adventure, I’m sure!