Hiking and waterfalls and yes even bears too.. this summer vacation was a classic. We found a swanky cabin in a pretty remote area close to the Smoky Mountain park and headed out with almost no plans whatsoever... Drove for most of a day in the family Truckster Station Wagon and found our cabin just before dark (good thing because I don't think we'd have found it easily after dark!) After unpacking we pretty much had the week "planned" in no time to include lots of hiking to waterfalls (sorry Jake), white water rafting, bear hunting, mountain biking and of course shopping and eating. NOC provided some excellent river time on the dam controlled Upper Pigeon river. Thanks to John O. for guiding us through the class 4 & 5 rapids. Very exhilarating! Thanks also to "Critter" for guiding us down the French Broad river - a very deceptive river. One moment calm and passive the next quite fun and splashy 😉 We returned to Climbworks to introduce Rachel to some very cool zip line fun. The folks here are extremely safety conscious and Rachel squealed with delight (or fear) to entertain the rest of us! Jake just HAD to try their mountain bike trail and that meant another out of shape dad got to go mountain biking! It was a ton of work panting and peddling and pushing up the hilly trail... but so well rewarded by a superbly designed downhill course. I almost felt like a capable mountain biker coming down. Sorry to Jake for not keeping up but we had a blast anyway. If you've ever been around one of these touristy areas you've surely seen the countless go-cart tracks. That's how we ended our week. Driving fabulously underpowered go-carts around the track and smiling and laughing like we were actually having fun! Why a week in a very tourist saturated Smoky Mountains? Recently I've been watching the calendar pages fall away so very quickly knowing that our high school senior daughter Rachel will be moving away before another blink or two. This time next year we'll be readying Rachel for her freshman year at university. That of course has this old guy trying to pack in as many family memories as humanly possible. Thanks to Jackie and Rachel and Jake for helping me fill my memory with some wonderful times in the Great Smoky Mountains! And yes that's a kind of creepy family photo during a loooong exposure at the Clingman's Dome Tower. This is the snapshot, reader's digest version.... I'll be posting some finished "photographs" over the next few weeks!