Camp Grandma’s – 7/26/09 to 8/2/09

By Sandi Hannig


Sunday, July 26: We went (as usual) to Scott and Tammy’s for Will’s 13th and Julia’s 7th birthday celebrations but this year was different because we also gathered to have family pictures taken by Zak’s friend, Alex, (who is going to take Katie and Chris’s wedding pictures). We met them at the Cox Arboretum and Gardens. They had located some settings so we all followed them, posed, smiled and got our pictures taken. We then headed back for a fine birthday party. We left around 4:00 and headed home. This year’s camp was quite different as Julia joined us for the first time; we were going to the Smoky Mountains for four days; and Joe, Daniel, Will and Julia were going as Wes stayed home to play hockey in the in the State Wars in Cincinnati. However, Wes did join us at the beginning and end of camp. Wes did come home with us for the first night of camp.


On the ride home, I told Julia that it was going to be a long ride to the Smokies and she said, “It will be worth it!” Hank drove past our house as a joke just to see what the kids would say.


They came in, got their goody bags, and then we enjoyed a picnic on the deck of hamburgers and fixings. Around 7:30, we hopped in the car, filled the gas tank at Kroger’s, got on the shuttle at McNicholas High School (where I went to school) and caught the shuttle to Beech Acres (where I worked) for the Anderson Days/Fireman’s Festival. Will and Julia mostly ate (fries, cotton candy and Slushies). Jill and Mike were playing cards so we chatted with them for a moment. The kids saw the Rat Race for the first time. The fireworks started at 10:00 and were awesome! We headed home and stopped at Kroger’s for donuts and Dramamine for Joe.


Monday, July 27: Most of us were up by 7:30 and when I woke Julia up, she said, “Thank you for inviting me to Camp Grandma’s!” Kindra came down to pick Wes up. Very sad and we will miss him. We hit the road before 8:30 and were on our way to the Smoky Mountains!


We had an uneventful but pleasant trip. We stopped for lunch at Wendy’s and we arrived at our motel (Best Western Crossroads) by 2:30 and checked in. I had printed off a coupon for one free night if you stay two nights and they did honor it. The boys carried up some luggage and came back to get some more. I asked Daniel and Joe how the motel rooms were and they both said OK, which worried me. When I got up there, I was astonished! They had only seen the living room, kitchen, and one bedroom. I had previously asked if there were two bathrooms and he said he thought there was only one. Well, not only were there two bathrooms, there was even a Jacuzzi! The place was huge and VERY NICE!


We got settled and Hank and Julia and I ran to the grocery store for some lunch meat, milk, etc. We had brought snacks and drinks and paper products. Then all but Hank and Joe went to the pool for over an hour. After getting cleaned up, we walked downtown and enjoyed Gatlinburg. At one store, the fellow (after I asked) recommended a Chinese Restaurant. Julia wasn’t very happy but once she tried the rice and sweet and sour chicken, she loved it! The waitress even took a picture of all of us. It was raining (it actually rained every evening) but we went to the Guinness World Records Museum. Hank waited for us while listening to some street musicians.


When we got out, Hank wanted the kids to have their picture taken at one of those old time photo places. As you can see by the picture, the kids cooperated and the picture was awesome. I told them not to tell their parents because I wanted to make copies and frame them for them.


Our next stop was a taffy shop where they made the taffy on the premises. We stopped in some shops. Julia bought a T-shirt and Will bought some fake blood capsules. We were back at the motel by 9:00 and Daniel got into the Jacuzzi, and later, Will took a turn.


Tuesday, July 28: Ate breakfast at the motel and left for the Smoky Mountains by 10:00. Breathtaking! We went to Clingman’s Dome, which is over 6,600 feet and the highest point in Tennessee. We straddled Tennessee and North Carolina, took many pictures, set foot on the Appalachian Trail and just enjoyed being in the mountains!


We stopped again at a grocery store and headed back to the motel and ate lunch. I took Julia and Will swimming and gave them a beach ball and diving sticks. Got out of the pool around 4:30 and got cleaned up to go downtown and to dinner. We decided to ride the trolley and actually got on the wrong trolley before it left on its route. Never did get back on one! Hank had seen a Shoney’s and was dying for their cabbage soup. He was disappointed in the buffet food but the rest of us had very good food. Again, it rained while we were eating dinner. Hank waited outside the restaurant while the rest of us went to the Hollywood Wax Museum. It was fabulous because the kids got to pose with all the wax figures and some ended up quite funny! We went through the entire museum and then went back through it. After many pictures and much fun, we found Grandpa. Joe and Daniel decided to hang in town for a while. Will, Julia and I got Grandpa and we went to a candy store and then enjoyed some ice cream at Baskins-Robbins. When we got home, Joe and Daniel were already there. Daniel and I left and walked to a few stores looking for a gift for Wes. Then we walked past our motel to check out Hillbilly Golf. It looked like big fun. When we got back to the motel, I talked with Scott and Tammy, chilled out and went to bed.


Wednesday, July 29: We ate breakfast at the Atrium Pancake House which was part of the motel and oh, so yummy! Then we headed out for more adventures. Joe, Daniel, Julia and I rode the Sky Lift and Hank stayed with Will, who didn’t want to ride. This was Julia’s favorite part of the trip. At the top, there was one of those machines where you press a penny into a shape and logo. They each made one for themselves and for Will and Wes. When we got done, it started to rain again. We had intended to take the Motor Nature Trail and then up to see Ober. But we passed the street so we continued to Cades Cove. It was a 24 mile drive and loop around Cades Cove was 11 miles. The drive was fairly uneventful even though we saw wild turkeys, deer, and many historic places. I’m sure the kids were fairly bored but they did enjoy seeing the old churches and gravestones. The best stop was a series of building, like a small town. One cabin actually had a bird’s nest plastered to the wall with two baby birds in it. There was also a grist mill making flour. At the barn, they were making wooden toys. Daniel and Will tried walking on stilts without much success. A man was demonstrating other old time games which were very interesting.


We decided we wouldn’t make any more stops because it was getting late for lunch. Just then, while still in Cades Cove, traffic came to a stop. I was very upset because we really weren’t prepared for being gone for so long. We had some drinks but only the candy the kids had brought. Thinking an accident would never get cleared up on this one-lane, one-way road. I was getting very frustrated. People were getting out of their cars and walking towards the ‘accident.’ Finally, someone came back and before he could even tell us what had happened, we saw the bear! Our mountain quest was complete as far as I was concerned. He was quite close, perhaps about 20 yards away. I couldn’t stop smiling! Traffic moved again and we headed out. We stopped for a quick rest stop and then made one more stop and that was so the kids could get their feet wet in the creek. Daniel and Will did it but it was very cold. By this time it was after 4:00. Thank goodness we had eaten such a huge breakfast. On the way back, Hank drove over a live snake!


Hank wanted Wendy’s Chili but there was no place to park. He pulled into a private lot so I could take Will’s, Julia’s and his orders. He took the two kids home and Joe and I went to Wendy’s while Daniel went to the Candle Shop to buy Wes a Pittsburgh Steeler’s ‘goblet’ which turned out to be a candle holder. He also got a ‘Wesley’ nameplate. It was pouring down rain and Daniel was soaked when he got to Wendy’s. As we left Wendy’s with our take out orders, the sun came out!


We all chowed down at the motel and then Will headed for the pool. Hank took Julia to the pool and Joe, Daniel and I played Hillbilly Golf which was a blast! You had to ride up (backwards) in an open tram on tracks that go straight up a steep hill. Daniel beat us but I was proud when I got a hole-in-one. We chilled and watched Wipeout. Hank went to bed, Joe headed to Wendy’s for some Frosties and Julia enjoyed the Jacuzzi. We semi-packed and cleaned up at bit. It was Will’s last day to be 12!


Thursday, July 30: Will’s 13th Birthday! We rallied the troops and were out the door and on the road by 8:00. We got on 75 and stopped for gas and breakfast at Cracker Barrel. The waitresses sang Happy Birthday to Will.


We got home by 2:30, unpacked, and downloaded two cameras (over 300 pictures). Scott and Tammy came from a Reds game for Will’s birthday dinner and to take Joe back home as he had to work the next day. Will’s dinner consisted of chicken fingers, fries, and fixings. Tammy had baked him a cake and we put fake candles on the cake that he had bought in Gatlinburg. The kids did some fireworks but mostly they were smoke bombs, sparklers, and snakes. Scott, Tammy, and Joe left at 9:00 and the three of them went to watch Wes play in his State Championship hockey game.


Friday, July 31: I had to wake up the kids at 10:30. We ate some cereal and banana bread that Tammy had baked and we headed to the basement to tie-die T-shirts. Daniel made one for Wes and Will made one for Joe. It was Julia’s first time and she loved it. We ate a bite of lunch and went to Adventure Golf. Will and Daniel rode the Go-Karts while Julia and I took pictures and videos. They played a few games in the arcade and then the three kids played miniature golf while I kept score. Julia did rather well for her first time. Daniel was leading but then we stopped keeping score. He was still the winner. They fed the ducks and fish and then we left. It was too late to go to the 3:00 o’clock movie so we went to the Dollar Store. We headed for the batting cages but they were closed for vacation. Our next stop was Cappel’s, Will’s favorite. Julia bought a red tiara and wand and a Julia pen. When we got home, Kindra had called to see if Wes could come back to camp since his tournament was over. So she brought him over around 5:30. I mowed the lawn while we were waiting for him.


She and Wes watched the slide shows of our pictures and then Kindra went home. We had Skyline and Coneys for dinner and talked about tomorrow’s activities. We were debating whether to go swimming at Coney or go to the movies. Hank said, “Why don’t you just go to the movies tonight” so we immediately left (and he cleaned up). Julia and I saw “Imagine That” and Wes, Daniel and Will saw “Year One.”


We stopped at Kroger’s on the way home so they could pick out the donuts they wanted. We just chilled for the rest of the evening.


Saturday, August 1: I woke the kids up around 9:00 after I had taken the rubber bands off of their tie-dyed shirts and washed them. We at donuts and headed for Coney’s Sunlite Pool. Jill and Mike had saved lounge chairs for us. Daniel blew up the raft and we bought arm floaties for Julia since I had sent her home Thursday. She absolutely loved the pool. She and I played with the raft for a while then the boys seemed to take it over. Julia went down the slide but was upset when she landed and went under water for a second. Later, though, she did say she would go down with Wes. It was quite cloudy so Jill decided to leave so she and Katie could go to a bridal show at Anderson Town Center. She asked Julia if she would like to go too and of course, she said,” Yes!” Jill took her home with her around 12:00 to get a shower and get dressed. I even got to lie in the sun for a while. Wes and Daniel wanted to leave around 1:00 but Will wanted to stay until 1:30. We ended up going down the Twister (a water slide with four chutes) and we didn’t leave until after 2:00. I actually went down the chutes six times myself.


We came home, got showered and did laundry. Hank had gotten fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes and we had burgers and fries. Jill had taken Julia out to dinner. We played card Bingo for candy and during the game, Jill brought Julia home. She had two jars of candy and other items from the bridal show, items from the Dollar Store, and a happy Meal toy from McDonalds. She had worn her Cincinnati Reds skirt and top plus her red tiara and was quite the star at the show. They had tasted wedding cakes and her favorite was chocolate raspberry. We played card Bingo until all the candy prizes were gone. Jill even joined us. Daniel won $2.00 for winning the most games.


We showed Jill the vacation pictures and then we watched some of the Reds game because Katie and Chris were there and her name had been chosen for the Toyota Truck promotion. If any Reds player hit the truck or the sign, Katie would have won a new Toyota truck. We even saw her name on the scoreboard but sadly, she didn’t win. After Jill left around 8:30, we watched Paul Blart, Mall Cop.


Sunday, August 2: Wes was happy that we waited to have our ‘mancake’ breakfast until he was there. We had bacon, sausage, blueberry pancakes and eggs. The four kids got ready, we packed up the car, and Hank headed out to take them to their homes. He dropped off Wes and Daniel first and before he left there to take Will and Julia home, Joe arrived to take them home.


Camp Grandma’s was officially over but it was again, a very enjoyable one for Hank and I. I do apologize for forgetting to take pictures once we got home from Gatlinburg. Tammy took some the night of Will’s birthday dinner and fireworks but none were taken on our last two days of camp. Therefore, I have no pictures of Wes and camp. Sorry Wes! I did include one of you and Joe at your hockey game. Also, the date on my camera was set wrong so please ignore the dates.


Hope you enjoy your journal and pictures. We are so proud of all our grandchildren and love them so dearly. Thanks, kids, for being such good campers!