Tennessee Trip

Earlier this spring, several of my homeschool co-op friends were planning camping trips for the summer. We occasionally go along as well as we all have a great time together. In addition to camping locally, they also mentioned wanting to go to Tennessee. We've talked about going to Tennessee in the past as I have a dear friend who lives there. My kids also had heard about the Titanic Museum down there as well and really wanted to go.

 So we decided to make one big trip and do it all. We planned to spend 2 days visiting with our friend who lives in Tennessee then head east to the other side of the state to camp with our other group of friends.

About a week before we left, the 2 children of my friend in Tennessee were up here visiting their grandparents and rather than them make a special trip to get the kids home, we offered to have the kids ride to Tennessee with us. I knew my kids would enjoy having friends along to help make the drive go faster. I admit I was a little nervous driving so far with a not yet 2 month old and 2 year old. We've driven to Florida before which is a lot longer of a drive but the kids were all older.

We were aiming to be on the road by 4am (Thursday August 1st). I didn't get to sleep till sometime after 11:30 the night before. Sweet Ava decided to wake at 12:30 to nurse, ha, it would figure!! And of course I couldn't get back to sleep then. Around 3am, I started hauling all our stuff out into the driveway. Packing a vehicle is like putting a puzzle together, I have to see everything that needs to go in the van laid out so I can get it all in just right maximizing each inch of space. If it hadn't been dark out and if I wasn't so worried about staying on schedule, I would've snapped a picture. Because we were staying in a cabin for the 2nd half of our trip and wouldn't have a kitchen, I had to pack a ton of extra things. I managed to get everything in and still had room for the 8 kids. haha Oh yeah, don't forget about the bike rack on the back of the van yet too!!

We got on the road by 4:15am. And we drove, and drove some more. In fact, we didn't stop until 5 hours later in Virginia! The kids all were doing well and surprisingly Ava slept that whole time. So it was a gas/diaper change/potty/breakfast stop all at once.

A quick pic taken with my cell of all the kids. Yes Olivia is still rear facing and will be for quite some time!

We made one other stop around 2pm and arrived at our friends house around 4:15pm (and according to them, we made good time even with our stops!) You are probably wondering if Ava nursed only those 2 times we stopped. Nope she ate quite a bit more in fact:

(that's just my arm/hand in the bottom of the pic, no worries ;)

What nursing mom hasn't ever done the whole hovering-over-the-carseat-thing?? On a long road trip it's just one of those things ya need to do because if we stopped everytime she wanted to eat, we never would've gotten to Tennessee!! (and yes, I tried pumping and doing the bottle thing but she didn't like the bottle we tried to give her and I only had that one kind along).

It was so good to be able to finally spend time with Renee, I only wish it had been longer! We often email or talk about food we cook so it was fun to be able to work together in the kitchen. She tried a few new recipes which is something we both enjoy doing (and they came out great!!! Paleo waffles & chunky monkey muffins, yum!) It was nice to also finally share conversation over coffee as we often have said we would love to do. I so wish we lived close by to get together on a daily basis.

On Friday, we walked to their neighborhood pool for the kids to spend some time swimming. After swimming we went to a local park for the kids to play then afterwards we finally got to visit sweet Weston who helped bring our families together. Often when Renee goes to visit Weston, she walks to the gas station nearby to get some cappuccino and takes it with her as she sits with her precious son. So that's what we did, we all walked over and she treated the kids to an ice cream treat, she got her cappuccino and I would've as well but it was hot out & I was wearing Ava in the moby so I turned my cappuccino into an iced coffee. Then we went at sat by Weston's grave chatting about our boys.

Renee & I with our boys! Still amazing how they brought us together even though we live states a part!

That evening, we had a yummy supper cooked over the firepit outside then made s'mores for dessert! I know we both wished for more time to just be able to sit and chat. Even watch our favorite beloved Anne of Green Gables together. 

Saturday morning we packed up and left Renee's family around 10:15 to head east about 3 1/2 hours to meet up with our friends who had just arrived at the campground. 

I miss you already my dear friend and am so thankful we were able to hang out together for a few days!

We arrived at the campground Saturday afternoon and unloaded everything into our 1 room cabin. Yup, all of us in one room with one bathroom (yes at least we had one!). Friends of our friends who live in the area cooked for our group that night so I didn't have to make supper. We had venison burgers over charcoal, yum!

Sunday we just hung around the campground. The kids went swimming, it was a pretty laid back day. I made pork & veggies kabobs over the fire for supper. Ahhh nothing like food over a wood fire!

Because we were in Tennessee for a total of 9 days, I'm going to be breaking up the posts over the next few days. Next up, our visit to Ripley's Aquarium of the SmokiesCade's Cove & the Titanic Museum!

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