Mike let me know about a deal on a chest freezer at the local Sears. I’ve been wanting one for a while and with all the brewing that I’ve got to do for the wedding reception, it was needed. It’s an 8.8 cubic foot model, which will comfortably hold two carboys, meaning I’ll be able to get all the reception beers done. Now I’ve got to pick up the temperature controller and other parts and ingredients for the first beers and then get started.
Reese, Heather, and I went in to Pigeon Forge to ride some go-carts. Thanks to Aunt Sandy, we had some free passes to use up, enough for two races for each of us. Reese smoked us totally on the first one, which he really enjoyed. He then wanted to do one of the other rides, a trampoline like thing where he was hooked up to rubber bands to help him jump even higher. He caught some really good air, but didn’t quite have the concept of flips down. He could do them, but couldn’t quite get himself straightened out before landing. The guy running the ride was great, he really worked with Reese and kept him up there for a lot longer than I expected. We both shot some video of him, and I’ll get around to posting it at some point. After that, we did our second race on the go-carts and then went inside to enjoy some air conditioning and play some skee ball. Between the three of us we got enough tickets for Reese to bring home a hackey sack.
We then headed back to the lake, had some great food for dinner, set off the last of our fireworks, and packed up to head out in the morning.
We went in to Maryville with Heather and the aunts to get some steamed sandwiches and run some errands before heading over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to do the Roaring Fork trail with Reese. We were hoping that there was going to be some water flowing thanks to the storms last night. It wasn’t as much as I was hoping, but it was still good. Reese is getting comfortable with the new camera and got some good pictures. We hiked over a bunch of rocks to get to some good picture taking spots as well as some of the easier stopping points.
After we got back we had some dinner and then sang happy birthday and had some birthday cake and ice cream.
Reese and I headed back in to Pigeon Forge to play some putt-putt before running some other errands. We got two rounds in before the heat made us give up and seek some air conditioning and lunch. After that we stopped off to pick up a birthday gift for Heather and some birthday cake for Reese. Then it was back to the lake to hang out and enjoy some steak. We had some excitement before dinner was ready. One of the worst wind storms hit the area. There’s apparently lots of damage in town with lots of trees down and power outages all over the place. We lost a few pieces of skirting around the trailer and the jet skis and floats drifted away, but other than that it was just really windy here.
We went in to town to pick Heather up from the airport and meet up with her mom for lunch. On the way out we picked up some more mortar shells for tonight’s fireworks fun. After doing a little work around her house, cutting trees and picking up brush, we came back to the lake and had a little dinner before getting the launcher tubes set up. The fireworks were great, those shells really looked good. Reese was really safe, paying attention to what was going on around him and letting us know when he was lighting stuff off. We set off over 60 shells, about evenly divided between the two of us, and a bunch of stick rockets. After the last shell was set off we cleaned up as best we could in the dark and turned in for the night.
Today’s Reese’s 10th birthday. Where did the time go?
We got up early because we needed to be at the museum by 9:00 so that we could be sure to have a spot on the Y12 bus tour. Once we were awake I gave Reese his birthday present, a Nintendo 3DS. He’s been wanting one for a while and has really done a good job with his reading and school work, so there was no reason not to. He was pretty excited, which was good because we had a long drive to get out to Oak Ridge.
Once we got out there, we bought our admission tickets to the American Museum of Science and Energy and got signed up for the Oak Ridge/Y12 bus tour. We were the third and fourth people on the list, so our cunning plan worked out. Since we had some time to burn, we grabbed some breakfast then went back to the museum to do some exploring. About the time we finished up, the bus tour was ready to leave, so we hopped on and headed over to the labs. The tour was great, with lots of stops at historically significant sites. We even got to go in to the original Graphite Reactor that was used during the Manhattan Project (that was definitely the highlight of the tour for both of us).
Once we finished the tour, we headed back to the lake, stopping at Calhoun’s again for dinner where Reese polished off a 1/2 pound burger in no time flat. Something tells me he’s getting ready for a growth spurt. We then did a round of putt-putt, where I got soundly trounced. Then headed back to the lake and set off some of the fireworks, including a few mortar shells.
Today was a getting settled in day. We went in to town to run some errands and get some lunch with Aunt Sandy. After lunch we took Reese on a tour of some of the twisty roads that East Tennessee is famous for and then spent some time at Aunt Sandy’s house meeting her cats and dogs as well as checking out the countryside. Aunt Sandy gave him some arrowheads and books about them for his birthday. On the way back we stopped at one of the fireworks stands and picked up a trunk load of big kid fireworks including some mortar shells. We’ll set some of them off tomorrow, because tonight is going to be an early night. Tomorrow is Reese’s birthday an we’ve got to be on the road early to get out to Oak Ridge for the science museum and lab tours.
We got up, got showered, got dressed, then went over to the restaurant to have some breakfast. After that we packed up the car, got our cameras ready (Joi gave Reese a PowerShot A1300 for his birthday), and queued up for our tour. We decided on the Historic Tour, a two hour long, two mile hike through some of the more historic parts of the cave. This was Reese’s first trip underground, and he really loved it. We got some good shots throughout the route we hiked. I think he wants to come back to do the Trog tour, a ranger led, no parents tour that gets them down and dirty in the cave. I’m really hoping that taking him to these parks will instill a love of the outdoors (and yes, I rewrote that line a few times and it still sounds cheesy). Time will tell, but he’s still getting dragged to as many National Parks as possible.
After we got done with the cave tour we hopped in the car and started for Tennessee. Thanks to construction just over the border, we didn’t get in until late. But when we did get in we met up with Heather’s Aunt Sandy for dinner at Calhoun’s over in Pigeon Forge. Good burgers, great beer, and wonderful company makes for a nice end to a day of driving. From there we headed up to Douglas Lake and got settled in to our home away from home for the next week.