A few days shy of Labor Day weekend our friends, the Goodfellows had a last minute brilliant idea and invited us to go to the Smokey Mountains with them and Melissa's Mema. So one terribly rainy Sunday afternoon we drove to the KOA in Cherokee, NC. After an insane drive through terential down pours, fog, and dark, twisty mountain roads, we arrived at our camp site, well cabin site, around 1:00 AM Monday morning. After some quick unloading and setting up of beds we all snuggled in to get some sleep before our adventures began. Little did I know that God had another, different great adventure planned for us that night...
I was having trouble getting Aiden to sleep so I brought him into my bed for a little a bit, while we quietly lay there I heard David start to cry. It had been a long day and we were really excited about our trip there, but we also were disappointed that Daddy wasn't with us, so I thought perhaps he was missing his Daddy and needed some extra loving. I asked him if he was okay and he said, "If you come over here I will tell you why I am crying," so I climbed over to his bunk bed and he, through tears said, "Mommy, I am crying because I know if I died I would go to hell." His response startled me because I had no idea that the Holy Spirit had been working on his heart. The previous several Wednesday nights at church we had been going through a series talking about the realities of both heaven & hell. A few months prior Jim and I had prayerfully decided not to participate in Awana any longer but to sit as a family in the church services, so David had been listening to all the messages and he was understanding. So after he told me his reasoning, I asked him to explain to me what he meant and after he told me that he wanted to be saved and go to heaven one day and be with Jesus forever, he climbed down from his bunk and we read the Scriptures together. After a few more questions and explanations, David prayed out loud to our Heavenly Father and admitted his need for a Savior and accepted God's free gift of His Son, Jesus Christ as his Lord. It was the sweetest, most glorious prayer I have ever heard. We cried and rejoiced that night/morning as David accepted Christ as his Savior and his Lord! We immediately emailed Jim who would be waking up shortly to work across the world. We then texted the Goodfellows to share the good news because we were too excited to wait until morning. They were so excited for him!! That day, September 3, 2012, we all slept a little sounder knowing that David now has a heavenly home awaiting him one day. Praise the Lord!!! The next morning David ran over to the Goodfellows cabin to tell the story. Melissa got it on video and it is the sweetest thing!
What a way to begin an adventurous trip!! We couldn't have started it out any better. The week we spent in the mountains with our dear friends is something we will never forget. Our friendship grew and our love for our Lord grew as we experienced some of his most beautiful creation!
Day 1 and our trip to downtown Cherokee
We visited a little zoo where we were able to feed some grizzly and black bears. They were huge!
Okay, seriously too funny :)
First chance to talk to Daddy on the phone since being saved. He was so excited to share the exciting news with his best friend!
The biggest slug I have EVER seen. We saw a bunch of these guys each night, YUCK! YUCK!!
Stopping for some ice cream and treats in Maggie Valley
Time for some gem mining. Melissa's parents (Nana & Papa) were camping in the trailer at a campsite near by so we were able to hang out with them a bunch too. David has now decided that they are HIS Nana & Papa now too and that Mema is HIS Mema too. We love them!! Gotta love Aiden's face in this picture
Taking a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was really foggy this day so the view from the mountain wasn't as clear, but we still had a great time!
Stopping downtown again for some quick last minute shopping and some romping in the water.
Home Sweet Cabin!
David slept on the top bunk and we used the bottom bunk as our pantry. Aiden got to snuggle in his pack n play next to the food :)
Our cabin & the Goodfellows cabin shared a backyard. We were thankful that we could be so close to each other. Each night Gary started and sustained a fire (underneath an umbrella) through the rain that came every single night. It was crazy, yet we enjoyed every memory making moment, right Gary? :)
One day we loaded up the vans to head on our next adventure. We were getting used to packing up for the day and loading up to take on the curves of the mountains. On this particular day we got around the 7 or 8th curve when Aiden asked for his blankey. David couldn't find it so I pulled over and much to our dismay it wasn't in the van. Now anyone who knows Aiden understands how important his blankey is to him. I mean, he puts Linus to shame! So I had no other choice but to turn around and go searching for blankey. Thankfully we found him, and this is where he was. He hadn't gotten very far. Apparently Aiden threw him out of the van as I was closing his door from the driver's seat so we didn't even notice until we were long gone. Thank you Lord for helping us find blankey once again.
Probably my personal favorite of the trip was our visit to the Oconaluftee Village We learned soooo much about the Cherokee Indians. It really opened my eyes to the amazing people they are. These are just some of the pictures we took on our walk through the village.
Learning about how they made the arrow heads and what they used them for.
You have to click on this picture so you can see better, but this man was an amazing shot with the blow dart!
Our little ones ready to learn more and see a social dance of the Cherokee.
One of our favorites was about the bull. Even the performers couldn't help but get tickled!
David posing one of our favorite social dance moves :)
We brought our picnic lunches to a park where we were able to play in the rocks and water for a bit. My boys LOVED it and I couldn't resist but to join them in the fun!
Fun in the river
On our way back to the cabins that evening we happened to pass by a mother elk and her baby. This picture doesn't give them justice. They are huge!! It was a special, "icing on the cake" type treat for us to see these amazing creatures.
You can't stay at a KOA and not try their gigantic trampoline. This time is was Gary's turn to jump!
Kayla's crazy jumping pose
David & Kristen flying through the air!
The following day we left the KOA in Cherokee for another campground in Boone, NC. We dropped of our stuff and headed straight to Grandfather Mountain. This was another highlight of our trip. At the top of the mountain is the Mile High Swinging Bridge. I don't have any pictures because the battery died on my camera and we didn't get new ones until after we had walked across it. I will say, for me, this was probably a once in a lifetime event. I was literally shaking as I gripped Aiden against me and the wind whistled by us. Wow yikes is all I can say. It was fun, I think...the mountain itself is absolutely gorgeous. There are huge rock formations and beautiful views. Here Gary is checking one of them out.
Our precious children
A quick stop off the mountain near a beautiful waterfall. We crossed over this bridge and carved our names and the dates in it. We can't wait to go back and check them out again next time.
David signing his name
We were able to do so many fun things on our trip. For being planned last minute, Melissa did an incredible job of making sure we were able to experience so much that Cherokee & Boone had to offer. Our 2nd to last day we went to Tweetsie Railroad for a whole day of fun. To sum it up, it was a BLAST!! I think this was the real beginning of David's life as a cowboy, which continues to this day :) Check out my little cowboys and their horses.
When all else fails throw them in a jail cell for a little bit. They are obviously enjoying it :)
Gotta love a train gift shop!
Kristen & David were sure to keep us protected from the local bad guys. Their cap guns were a huge hit all day long and the employees at Tweetsie always played along, it was great!
Keeping law in the wild west!
David & the sheriff, after our first trip on the train ride drama adventure.
Heading out west we go!
Enjoying some of the rides at Tweetsie
One of our favorite "rides" was the chair lift. I think we rode it up and down the mountain at least 4 times
Aiden & Kristen on the chair lift
Hahaha, that's all I can say.
Enjoying the petting zoo part of the park. There were goats, horses, donkeys and deer.
Called up on stage for the "magic show" Do you think David is on to him?
Even Cowboys & Indians can get along sometimes
One of Aiden's favorites
I think David was determined and excited to ride every ride he could with Kristen. This one started off well...
and ended like this :) Kristen was so sweet to keep David's face covered for him while they finished the ride. David didn't feel sick he was just scared of the constant spinning. Let's just say they didn't ride that ride again.
Our second time riding the train and watching the drama unfold.
Look out Mr. Gary here comes trouble.
We LOVE Tweetsie Railroad!!!
This pretty much sums it up. :)
Our 2nd Home Sweet Cabin
Our final adventure was Mystery Hill This place was crazy!
We are standing straight up and flying, somehow...
A David sized bubble!
Aiden's favorite part was the large amount of bubbles.
To say we had fun on this trip just doesn't quite cut it. We had a blast and we were sad to see the week end. God did some amazing things in all of us while we spent time in his created world. He truly is an amazing and creative God. To think that He cares so much for us among all his creation that He sent His Son to take our sin upon Himself so that we could be made right with Him is indescribable. Thank you Goodfellows for the great adventure. We look forward to our return trip. Next time we will bring Daddy!!