#MYadventure: Bushbaby's Sonya + family head to Smoky Mountain National Park

Let's start a new feature on our journal! Today we welcome Sonya {part-time employee at Bushbaby} as she shares a bit about her family's adventures in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

It was March when we realized that there was only ONE long weekend that every member of the family was available for a family vacation. Our kids are 19, 17, 16, 11, + 9 years old. We know they are growing up + moving out. We have accepted it. But we want to keep the adventures going as long as we can!

So, even though the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a long drive from Central IL, we booked a couple of nights at a cabin that we located through Homeaway. We searched by date + location, number of beds + price, finally locating the perfect little hideaway for the July 4th weekend.

This beautiful park should ideally be discovered over 4-5 days, or even more... but we packed all we could into the 2 days we had. Our family prefers the out-of-the-way places, so we drove through Pigeon Forge, gawking in amazement, but spent our time hiking away from the crowds + in our cabin, tucked next to a little creek.

The first day we took advantage of where we entered the park, and walked up to the highest point in the park for a long view of the landscape. The mountains were truly smoky! As we walked, mist turned wetter + rain fell til we were soaked, and the view was cloaked in clouds. Our kids laughed about the irony of the situation + most of us stayed cheery :) We smiled through the rain at more folks heading up, determined like us to keep exploring through the weather. As we drove through the mountains to our cabin, we stopped for the kids to snap pictures + gaze at the views once again unveiled.

We all loved the longer trail that the men of the family picked out for our main hike the following day. The Little Creek wove near the trail, with lots of little paths leading to the edge at spots of beauty. We dipped our feet, stood + took in the sounds of the waterfalls + tossed rocks into pools. The trail was rocky but our kids were enthusiastic about the views + didn't complain. We packed in our lunch and enjoyed it on rocks near the creek.

My favorite moments of the trip were glimpsing my kids still + quiet in nature. They laugh + run + explore, of course, but the precious moments to me were the quieter ones. I could see their brains taking it all in + their hearts falling in love with this grand beauty + the adventure of experiencing it.

Hope your summer is full of the quiet + the loud moments of exploring our big world! Please let us know if you are willing to be a part of the #MYadventure series on the blog!