Friday--We spent the morning running around like a chicken with its head cut off. There was packing to finish, lunches to pack, the rental van to pick up, and the list goes on and on. Anyway, we were able to leave the church by 2:00. The 31/2 hour ride to Pigeon Forge was, how shall I say, "interesting" and loud! At each rest stop, many of the teens raided the vending machines, so the sugar and caffeine made for a lot of giggling. After reaching Pigeon Forge, we stopped at the cabin rental agency to pick up our keys and directions to the hunting lodge where we were to stay. Then we rode for what seemed like an eternity (in actuality it was only about 20 minutes) on roads that couldn't decide which direction they wanted to turn. Right, left, right, left. Thank the Lord for Dramamine! We arrived safely, albeit a few of us were a bit green. The massive lodge was settled on 55-acres of woods. We spend a few minutes settling in and then decided to make use of the volleyball net set up behind the cabin. The gnats made it nearly impossible to play, so after a few minutes of trying, we decided to explore the grounds. We went hiking, and I do mean HIKING! All uphill. At one point, I stopped to wait on a few of the girls that were straggling behind. At that point, I realized just how fast and hard my heart was beating. It was a little scary! We hiked a little farther, then decided to turn back since the light was beginning to fade. The hike downhill was harder than the one uphill. We finished up the evening with dinner, games, wrestling (the guys), and devotions. I stumbled off to bed at 12:30. I could not keep my eyes open any longer. The kids were sent to bed at 1:30 when the other chaperons went to bed, but giggling and talking could still be heard long into the morning.
Saturday--We started the day at 6:30. After showers, breakfast, and devotions, we took off for Dollywood. Wouldn't you know we picked busiest day of the year to go? Not only was it the last weekend before the kids went back to school, but it was also the day that Dolly was there in person. (Yes, we got to see her.) We arrived at the park just a few minutes after opening, and we had to park in Section F (it only goes through Section G). We rode roller coasters and water rides, but the majority of the time was spent standing in line. Nevertheless, we had a great time! We left the park a little after 8:00, made a couple of stops, and then headed back to the cabin. It was around 11:00 when we sat down for dinner. We ate, had devotions, and took a few minutes to sign "Thank You" cards for our church. Everyone was sent to bed at 12:30, but again, laughter was heard for quite a while after that.
Sunday--We started today at 6:30 also. The morning was a rush of getting ready for church, fixing and eating breakfast, packing up our stuff, and readying the cabin for our departure. We attended services at a small church just down the winding road from the lodge. They invited our young people to sing. It was a good service, and by 12:00, we were on the road again. It took a little over five hours to get back home due to stopping for lunch, gas, bathroom breaks, etc. We arrived back at our church around 5:30, leaving us just enough time to change back into our church clothes for evening service. Needless to say, it was very had to pay attention in church last night since all my energies were focused on just staying awake. After church, Jason and a friend drove to Greer to return the rental van, but because the rental place didn't have a drop box, I had to drive out there this morning to drop off the keys.
And, that, in a nutshell, was our trip. As I said earlier, we had a great time, but I think I need a few days (or weeks) to catch up on some sleep and to un-cramp from riding in the van for so long. I appreciate all of you who prayed for us while we were gone. The Lord blessed us with a safe trip and beautiful weather. All in all, the weekend was a success.
Now, if you'll excuse me. I think I'm going to take a nap!