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It is that time of year again when our family wakes from hibernation, and we begin planning our next outdoor adventure. As I sit in my home office, I can see buds on the trees, blooming daffodils, and can hear the birds chirping. The first signs of spring are upon us….hallelujah!

We are a family full of energy who enjoys being outside, so it is natural for us to begin planning a trip to the smoky mountains. I am reminded of a wonderful experience that I had last November when I joined the Titanic crew in Pigeon Forge, Tn. When you first drive up the Parkway in Pigeon Forge and you see the GIANT SHIP, it simply takes your breath away. You forget about the traffic – which does pile up on the Parkway- you forget about that moment in the car when little Johnnie spilled his chocolate milk all over the seat, you even forget about the fact that you forgot your tooth brush and need to find a Walgreens. It draws you in and you thirst to go inside.

Well, I got to go inside the museum and so did my new friends, the wonderful influential Mommy Bloggers in the area who wanted a chance to experience our museum with their families, so that they could share our Titanic tribute opportunity with other local families. Not only did I have the priviledge of meeting some amazing families, I also got to tour the museum!

Inside our museum, you discover this magnificent ship that was designed to be unsinkable. You learn of the passengers who were coming to America to start a new life and maybe to visit the Smoky Mountains. I tried to put myself in their shoes. Would I be coming here to start a career, to give my family better opportunities, or to experience freedom? How fortunate we are as Americans to already have these very opportunities and we don’t even have to uproot our families! The Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge is HIGHLY interactive. All I could think about when I toured is, I can’t wait to bring my family back to experience this. Not only is it an education in history, geared towards children and adults, but there are physical things for kids to do. They can steer the ship, take a virtual dive to the wreckage, shovel coal, touch an iceberg, meet Polar the bear, and other kid friendly activities. I could go on and on….

Not only did I get to experience our museum attraction, but I also had the priviledge of touring the area. My “tour guide” took me down the Parkway in Pigeon Forge where I could see many opportunities for my family to have FUN! First of all, Dollywood is 12 minutes away. I am pretty sure the boys would enjoy a theme park with the best of them. Pigeon Forge also offers zip lines, river rafting, shopping and tons of shows and attractions. I also noticed that the Wilderness indoor/outdoor waterpark Resort was just a few miles away in Sevierville. We went to the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells a few years ago and made memories that will last a lifetime!

When we arrived in Gatlinburg, Tn. I felt like I was in my element. The streets are filled with quaint shops, bakeries, and warm smiles. Rivers and streams run through the area and wildlife is prevalent. In fact, at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side of Gatlinburg, park rangers educate campers and visitors about bears and NOT FEEDING THEM! The views are endless. We took a lift up to the top of one of the mountains in the downtown area and the views were incredible. I dreamed of sharing that experience with my family. The mountains seemed to go on forever.

We stopped in at Ripley’s Aquarium for a tour. They have a wonderful shark tunnel that you get to “ride” through on a moving sidewalk and they have pinguins which happen to be one of my favorite animals. They also have a large room filled with interactive activities for kids. You can touch different sea creatures and learn about them. Again, I thought about the boys and how they needed to come back and experience this with me.

The Food. Well, I like to eat and I was anxious to experience something different in the Smokies. My guide took me to a restaurant built on the site of an Old Mill, naturally named The Old Mill. True southern cooking at it’s finest. And, did I mention more shopping? Local artists displayed their works in shops that lined the streets around the Mill.  Eating and Shopping at the Old Mill was the perfect end to a perfect day.

This June, my family plans to take our FAMILY VACATION to the Great Smoky Mountains and I can’t wait! We are going to re-live my adventures back in November, possibly adding a river rafting trip, Dollywood, and some water parks, but of course our first stop will be…the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tn. Making memories and having fun is what this family vacation will be ALL ABOUT!