I took the first two weeks of July off. The first week we prepared to camp, finding sights, making sure we had equipment, planning our route. We sprinkled in a day at Universal and a day at Monkey Joes (for my nephews 3rd birthday).
We packed the van full on Monday night and got up at 4am on Tuesday. After a quick stop to get a fuse (I had fixed the utility plug up front but blew a fuse doing so) we were on our way. I used the GPS on my blackberry to map us to Cherokee, NC. We stopped in Gainesville to swictch drivers, I had gotten bitten by a spider in the van and I wasn't feeling so hot. We drove up to Atlanta and I missed the off ramp to I75 and ended up on I85. I pulled off and we decided to have lunch. We convinced the kids to sit down instead of eating fast food, and stopped at www.tinroofcantina.com/ for lunch. They had 2 tacos for $2, so Carrie and I got tacos, my kids got tater tots and mozerella sticks. The tater tots were a great deal, as it was about a pound of tots. I had fish tacos, and they were the best I've had on the east coast. We ate and watched the Michael Jackson memorial. We packed back in and headed on the road. We made it to Cherokee NC, however my cell reception was a little spotty. Unfortunately, Cherokee NC is not where the Cherokee reservation is, so we were a little lost. We took scenic back roads through the mountains, awesome views and scary semi trucks rounding corners. We pulled into Smokemont around 7pm and setup our camp. We had a campsite across from the river. I grabbed some wood around 9pm and started a fire. We had hot dogs and smores.
The next morning we got up and made breakfast. Camping is much slower than my hectic life. We had to wash and pack up everything before we could head out, as we did not want bears and/or bugs to invade our camp life. We piled into the van with no destination so we started up the mountains to Gatlinburg. It started raining and my daughter had to use the restroom, so without knowing where we were, I did a 3 point turn in the mountains. Our stomachs dropped as we approached the edge of the road. We went back down, and went to a little park. We took a hike in the park and had lunch there. We went back to camp and it started to rain. We holed up in the tent for a little while and watched a movie on our laptop. Unfortunately, we didn't put the laptop to sleep, so we only had an hour of playtime. We took the kids back out, and went to the Smoky Mounatains welcome station. The kids got to make an old timey toy, and we bought them bug catchers with built in magnafying lenses. We went back to camp and made hot dogs and s'mores again. It rained again that night.
In the morning we made the decision to pack up the tent, as I had sealed the outside seams instead of the inside seams, it was a little damp inside and it was calling for another evening of rain. We at breakfast and played in the stream by the camp. While skipping stones, my son managed to beam me in the head pretty hard, giving me a nice headache. We didn't have the right fishing tackle, so we just cast our lines in a couple of times. We headed out and went to the old gristmill on the way to Columbia SC. We stayed in a Comfort Inn, using a coupon procurred at a rest stop. We charged our electronics and got a nights sleep. In the morning, the kids loved having a continental breakfast. We looked for things to do in Columbia, and ended up buying discoutn zoo tickets at the hotel.
The Columbia zoo is nice. We got there in time to watch the penguins being fed. Unfortunately, the giraffes didn't want to be fed while we were waiting. After a couple of hours we left and got some Schlotzsky's. We drove home down I95, stopping off at Sonny's before we got home.
The next weekend we went to Ocala to my grandfather's 90th birthday party... the transmission on the van went out when we got off of I75...
more to come on that.