Our weekend began like any other. Andrew and I were both working on Friday and wanted to have a night out with the children. What began as a mini-golf trip and dinner idea snowballed into a two-night cabin stay in the Smoky Mountains.
After some last minute preparations we were able to book our impromptu trip. We boarded our dog, wrangled our mewling calico cat and headed three hours to our home away from home. (On top of everything else we had to leave our house spotless for two Open Houses over the weekend in the hopes of selling.)
The children were excited, my husband was giddy, and I was ready to be with my family. As we made our way through the winding mountainside, I white knuckled the steering wheel and said a silent prayer, slowly driving my SUV up a very steep and narrow incline. This was the part I always dreaded. Our cabins are always at the very top of the mountain and I imagined my car flipping over like a small matchbox. My stomach turned, my heart raced, and no one was allowed to talk.
With baited breath we were at our small cabin. The boys hurriedly rushed inside and explored their new space. They had never been to a cabin before and eagerly claimed their room. After the long trip the view from the back porch was well worth every second. We unpacked and changed into our swimsuits so we could check out the hot tub…also a first for the boys.
Once in the hot tub the boys quickly realized that the water was, well…hot! They expected it to be like a swimming pool and were more fascinated by the lights inside the tub. After “relaxing” for a few minutes everyone was ready to get out, myself included. This was a new experience for all of us. Whenever we stay at a cabin it’s only my husband and myself. The hot tub always seems bigger with just two of us but this time it was a bit crowded.
We knew that going into this that it was a family trip and we also know that with our current plan we will have to be creative in finding “adult” time. Anyways that wasn’t the focus (my husband will touch on that subject later, I’m sure.) Back to our trip…
We enjoyed the evening of grilling, playing Monopoly, making S’mores, and being together. We hit the hay early in preparation for our day of tubing.
The next day we dived into a box of donuts, had an early lunch, and drove down the mountain to Deep Creek Tubing Center. After renting our tubes, life jacket, and making a second trip for creek shoes we were ready for fun in the sun.
In Ohio, where we are from, we have places that shuttle you to the tubing entrance of the river. In Bryson City you rent tubes from a company and they tie them on the top of your car with twine. A teenage boy tied on our four tubes and sent us on our way. The tubes didn’t budge an inch, which was beyond impressive.
We untied our tubes and Andrew and I carried two tubes each up a one-mile trail. We were in the Smoky Mountain National Park and the place was busy. Many people were already enjoying the creek. We looked down at them as we kept hiking higher and higher up the trail. The kids complained of being tired and we had to reassure them that it was going to be worth it as we tubed down the river.
We finally got to a spot that we felt satisfied with and we slowly made our way down large rocks and into the water. The water was freezing! I tied my tube with one of the children’s tubes. As I went to get my youngest son, Owen I heard a scream. Before we even began, Owen fell and scraped his leg. I could only shake my head. If anyone were to get hurt it would be Owen. Despite being told numerous times to sit and wait because there were sharp slippery rocks, he didn’t listen. We calmed him down, checked out his scrape (which wasn’t bleeding), and placed him in his tube.
I got in my tube and waited for my husband, Andrew and oldest son, Ethan to get in their tube. We each had a child’s tube attached to our tube. We were told that Deep Creek was a fun family time for children five and up. Owen was wearing a life vest and the water wasn’t too deep. As we floated on the river I hit every large rock. No matter how much I tried to avoid the rocks I still ended up getting stuck on everyone of them. At first it was funny and would rock my tube back and forth. After the tenth time I was ready to just walk the tube to the side and hike back down.
On the other hand my husband makes the most out of any situation. He and Ethan were having fun while Owen and I were trapped by a large fallen tree and were bumped into by every person tubing by. Not too far down I noticed a waterfall – it wasn’t a big drop but for a 5 year old and an overprotective mom I thought it best to get to the side and prep my son.
I pulled our tubes over to a rock next to the waterfall. A young boy was floating there, already; I had helped him earlier and he politely said, “hi.” We talked for a second before I turned to Owen. I was getting ready to get out of my tube so I would go down first but the young boy by the rock thought I needed help and pushed my tube down the waterfall. I was knocked back down into the tube as we headed over the fall.
Owen’s tube flipped over and so did mine. As I came to the surface I saw that Owen was fine but upset he got wet. Definitely a proud mommy moment as my youngest son kept his wits about him. A few seconds ago he was howling over a small scrape and now he was taking a small waterfall like a champ. We quickly regained our bearings, hopped back into the tube and proceeded to get stuck on every rock again.
Halfway through the river we stopped and swam, even Owen decided to get out and swim too. The water was so clear and pretty. After two hours on Deep Creek we saw our exit and hopped out. We were tired, wet, and hungry. Andrew worked on tying the tubes back on top of the car as I changed the boys. We had survived a very intense tubing experience with several waterfalls, small rapids, and countless rocks. In the end I was the only one to get bruised. After wiping out on the first waterfall I stood up and slipped on a rock, which caused a nasty bruise on my outer thigh. I’m achy and sore but we all agreed that it was a good time!
If you are ever in Bryson City, NC, check out Deep Creek tubing in the Smoky Mountains. We also took some time exploring the city and ate at Nate & Nick’s Pizza, got coffee at La Dolce Vita, and learned that the city offers Polar Express train rides during the Christmas season. We plan to be back for a train ride.
It was hard to leave on Monday; everyone wanted to stay another night. We hope to keep exploring different cities. We are working hard on making a lifetime of memories together. Thanks for coming along with us on our journeys; we hope to have many more!