Dandridge, Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee.

We have come to Tennessee, our 21st state. We are staying at Anchor Down in
Dandridge, Tennessee. (Dandridge is the Second oldest city in Tennessee settled in 1748.).
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Our RV park is perhaps the fanciest we have stayed at. The sites are nice, many with amazing views of the Douglas Lake. The tree covered mountains roll out in the distance behind the lake. Anchor Down has a pool with a water slide and a spot on the lake with big inflatables- trampoline bounce pad, large slide and a "Saturn". So fun.
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Our first full day we were there my cousin Josh, his wife Amber, and their four kiddos, Gabe, Jonah, Noah and Leah, came to spend the day with us at the lake and the pool. It was tremendous fun to see them! Six kids 11 and under! How fun. The kids had a blast playing and jumping in the water and then later enjoying the water slide. Everyone was very sun kissed by the end of the day and poor Matilda was burnt to a crisp but it was wonderful.
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Exhausted!  Asleep before the Welsh's were even loaded in the car.
Exhausted! Asleep before the Welsh's were even loaded in the car.

My cousin Jami took the kids and I to Applewood Farmhouse Grill in Sevierville with her three kiddos- Jaden, Isabella and Juliana. It was a great place to eat wth kids. The food was yummy and very plentiful. The restaurant even had a huge glass cage full of birds right next to our table. Juliana was entranced with them.

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The seven of us head over to Rainforest Adventures after lunch. It is a fun little exotic animal zoo. There are lemurs and gekos and monkeys. Outside they have goats (tiny babies!) and sheep, a donkey and emu and you can buy food to feed them. The kids loved this part. Especially the donkey. It was a fun place to spend an afternoon. And it was inside which was important for my sunburned littles. (They almost always have groupons. Check) it was great to spend the afternoon with Jami and her kiddos.
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We spent some more days in the pool and the lake and working on perfecting the launching pad.

The "Saturn"
The "Saturn"
Matilda and Erin
Matilda and Erin
Here goes Bob to launch Matilda
Here goes Bob to launch Matilda
Flying Matilda!
Flying Matilda!
Here goes Erin for the launch
Here goes Erin for the launch
Flying Matilda (right into Mommy's head)
Flying Matilda (right into Mommy's head)
Matilda trying desperately to launch Bob
Matilda trying desperately to launch Bob

Pigeon Forge, TN is the home of Miss Dolly Parton. She grew up about 5 miles from downtown up in the mountains. Once she made it big she opened Dollywood Amusement Park in town and the place has been growing ever since. Pigeon Forge is full of tons of entertainment options. There is any manner of go kart, zip line, Tshirt shop and dinner show. You can see the mountains rising in the distance past the shark-faced buildings. When you drive through town it can be overwhelming the number of options there are. But then, the entertainment extravaganzas just end suddenly and the forest begins.
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We drove through town one day to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Driving the Parkway into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park the deciduous trees reach almost into the road, Mimosa trees look like they will tip over they are so full of their feathery pink flowers and a tranquil creek flows between the in bound and out bound roads.

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You veer off the parkway and take the bypass road to the right into the Great Smokey Mountain Park. It is a no fee park.
It is spectacularly beautiful. We only spent a few hours there and did not get to see the famous Cades Cove or overlooks. It left me longing for more time.

This view shows Gatlinburg in the valley and Mt Le Blanc. There is more than one vertical mile difference in their elevations. The greatest contrast in the US.
This view shows Gatlinburg in the valley and Mt Le Blanc. There is more than one vertical mile difference in their elevations. The greatest contrast in the US.

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We parked at Sugerlands Visitor Center. They have a nice visitor center with some lovely displays of local flora and fauna. Matilda got badge #43 there.
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We took a short hike to Cataract Falls from the visitor center. It was nice and flat.

"I love you Tilda. I guess that means we are married."
"I love you Tilda. I guess that means we are married."
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While there we had a bit of excitement and misplaced our keys. We have gone 15 months without locking keys in car or losing them so we've had a good record. The keys were found so it turned out we weren't going to live in Gatlinburg after all.

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In the afternoon we went to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. It was an amazing show. It was expensive but worth it. The show started with a performance from Mountain Ruckus. They are a trio of banjo, upright bass and guitar. The band includes Biscuit, the only 4 time US banjo champion. They played Dolly Parton songs, country, pop and gospel songs.
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Then you enter the auditorium for the real show. The "stage" area is below in a sawdust covered oval. Arranged all around three sides are long tiered tables and benches. Every seat is good. The show is also a competition and one side represents the north and one side the south. That adds a fun bit of rivalry and lots of cheering and stomping. The show is really incredible. It is so well orchestrated and moves like clockwork. There is a woman riding two horses through a ring of fire, covered wagons, dancing pioneers, blacklist Native Americans and birds, trick riding and more. There is also a funny guy "skeeter" who "works out back in the barn" for great comedy relief. You also get a huge meal. (We took enough food home for two more meals). (Bring cash to tip your server.)
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After the show we followed directions we found online to Dolly Parton's mountain childhood home. We drove all through the hollers and up the mountain but didn't find the house. The drive is beautiful tho and it was a fun adventure.
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Tennessee is so beautiful. It's impossible to stop taking pictures of the land and the barns.
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On our last few days we spent in town. Josh met us in Knoxville with his kids. We spent the afternoon at Ijams Nature Center. We took a mile and half long hike, splashed in the creek and explored the nature plays cape. It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
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Exploring cave showing what happens when the plates meet and curve
Exploring cave showing what happens when the plates meet and curve

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We don't the night at Josh and Ambers house. We had movie night in heir backyard. The kids had a blast playing. It was so fun.

Zombies on the train tracks!
Zombies on the train tracks!
Knoxville has the most beautiful water tower
Knoxville has the most beautiful water tower
Happy Bob playing with Josh's bike while Josh flips for joy.
Happy Bob playing with Josh's bike while Josh flips for joy.

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Aunt rylie.
Aunt rylie.
So nice to see Danny and Nora too!
So nice to see Danny and Nora too!

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Milo HAD to sleep with this truck.
Milo HAD to sleep with this truck.

We spent the day playing at Josh and Ambers and had a family BBQ at night with Jami and her family and Uncle Danny and Nora. It was a great time with everyone. 9 kids under 11! And another drive in movie night.

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Silly Jaden
Silly Jaden
Taking down Uncle Danny
Taking down Uncle Danny

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Isabella said "come dance with me" to Matilda and Leah
Isabella said "come dance with me" to Matilda and Leah
Drive in movie
Drive in movie

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Look at Juliana's chunky legs!  So cute.
Look at Juliana's chunky legs! So cute.

It was a nice visit. Thank you so much for having us!

It happened that Mary and her friends Bob and Kathy were coming to Nashville the week after we were in Knoxville so we decided to crash the party. And it happened to be that Nashville has a huge 4th of July festival and the biggest firework show in the country. Bonus. They were so kind to let us join their vacation.
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My cousin Nelly was teaching at a camp in town and came to meet us for a nice southern dinner at Crackle Barrel treat from Mary.
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On the fourth we drove into town to the Hyatt where they were staying which was just blocks from the festivities. Breakfast. (Kathy's first French Toast 😉) It was so perfect. The kids got hotel time which they love. We also did some henna tattoos.

Milo's feet
Milo's feet
HOTELS!!
HOTELS!!
Mary does kathy's feet
Mary does kathy's feet
Mary's delicate feet looking even more beautiful
Mary's delicate feet looking even more beautiful
Milo and Bob bonding over builder game
Milo and Bob bonding over builder game

We went to the kids zone on Broadway, bounced in some bounce houses, listened to music and danced, had no cones and then back to hotel right as the sky opened and the rain started.
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Sharing snow cones with Aunt Mary
Sharing snow cones with Aunt Mary

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Happy Fourth of July!
Happy Fourth of July!

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The afternoon and evening saw many showers. As soon as we thought we could head to the music it rained again.we dried off watching a great guitar player in the hotel.

Sharing an umbrella with Milo is tricky
Sharing an umbrella with Milo is tricky

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We did run over to watch some music and saw the end of Maddie and Tae before it poured again. We watched Sheryl Crow from the hotel. We could see the fireworks from the hotel room which was amazing.

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By the time the excitement was over it was so late and they let us have a sleepover.

Kathy and Mary in their matching pajamas!
Kathy and Mary in their matching pajamas!

It was super fun. Thanks so much for allowing us to crash.

Tennessee is beautiful. I have to say I would be happy to settle there. It looked like sub a nice area.