Kerri Banyas Photography bio picture
  • Hello Lovely!

    I am a creative mama with 3 crazy-adorable kids, One amazing hubby, 2 wrinkle-faced dogs,
    a passion for Christ, Uplifting and Empowering Others, and finding the Beauty in LIFE.

    In the midst of breaking up food fights and wading through a sea of Legos and Barbie dolls,
    I'm also dedicated to finding new ways to keep my family healthy & happy
    with fun DIY projects, delicious & healthy meals, an active lifestyle,
    lots of love and lasting memories with family and a little bit of photography in the mix.

    I adore this life I have been given and hope my struggles, my triumphs,
    and my story can inspire and encourage others to know that
    God's Grace is Unending.

    Thanks for stopping by my friend....I can't wait to share my life and my heart with you!

    xoxo,
    Kerri

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 6 – Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park

We said goodbye to Florida after one final swim on the pool….then we made our way through Georgia and stopped for some amazing BBQ at Pit Stop BBQ …..so yummy! Once we had full bellies and some time to stretch, we headed to our final adventure in Kentucky…exploring Mammoth Cave National Park. On the way we drove through Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville….I wish we could’ve stopped in all of those places to soak in everything each city had to offer, but we will have to save them for another trip….I’m definitely going to be heading back as soon as I can!

Our Road Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1 : Leave our home in Michigan at 5:30am and head to Gatlinburg Tennessee
  • Day 2: Spend the morning and afternoon exploring Gatlinburg, and some of the Smoky Mountains, then head to Florida
  • Day 3: Easter Sunday!!! Spend the day resting with family & soaking up some sun by the pool
  • Day 4: Visit my Dad and family south of Sarasota, Fl
  • Day 5: Relax by the pool, Shopping, Watch the Sunset on Siesta Key
  • Day 6: Visit Grandma Shorty in Winterhaven
  • Day 7: Visit Mote Aquarium & Big Banyas Family Bash on Anna Marie Island
  • Day 8: One last swim in the pool then Leave Florida and head to Kentucky
  • Day 9: Explore Mammoth Cave National Park, Hike the trails, Take a Cave Tour, Earn Junior Ranger Badge #1
  • Head home
  • Day 10: SLEEP!!!

We arrived at our hotel at 3am (more construction)…and we were exhausted! I’m not gonna lie….driving through the night isn’t my fave anymore now that I am older….how do those truckers do it??!! It didn’t take long to unload into the hotel room….thank goodness we packed that over-night duffel bag that I told you about! Total lifesaver! We stayed at the Mammoth Cave Hotel right in the park, attached to the visitors center, so we were close to everything. The hotel offers very basic accommodations, but very clean and so nice to be so close to everything. Next time we might try to stay in there adorable WigWams…aren’t they a dream! I want to live in one!

We were able to schedule our tour in advance (they sell out quickly so be sure to book your tour well before you visit or you might miss out) but we had to wait until 2:45, so we spent most of the day exploring and having a small picnic in the beautiful Kentucky countryside as we waited to see the caves. It was perfect.

Just look at this gorgeousness ya’ll!

We are so very small in this big big world….

We also spent some time helping the kids earn their very first Junior Ranger Badges! Love this program! What a wonderful way to keep kids engaged while learning about our National Parks!

Time to explore the caves! We were waiting for our bus to take us to the Domes and Dripstones Tour that starts at a back entrance to Mammoth Cave. Harrison was very prepared with his miner’s helmet that he bought at the gift shop….so cute right?!

Love my little Explorers! Look how excited they are!

Discussing the possibility of seeing Bats…we didn’t end up seeing any by the way…thank goodness.

Our tour took us almost 300ft deep into the Earth! How beautiful!

I didn’t get to take very many pictures inside the caves…no flash photography is permitted by the way…so I was thankful to have my professional camera. The tour is more fast paced than you realize, and trying to be sure our kids were not tumbling over a railing and into the abyss prevented me from taking too much time for photos. I hope you will forgive me just this once (;

We LOVED the caves…but we were all tired out after exploring for 2 hours…and ready to make the long trip home to Michigan…and more driving through the night! Can you guess what time we got home? 3 a.m. again…must be our lucky number!

Things to Remember When Exploring Mammoth Cave National Park

  • Wear Tennis Shoes – the caves are slippery in some area, and with all of those steps, rugged terrain and tight spaces, its not a place for flip flops!
  • Dress in Layers – The caves are a bit damp and a bit chilly. Be sure to at least bring a sweatshirt or jacket in case you get chilly…even in the Summer months. Most tours last a few hours or more so its better to be prepared!
  • Bring a Water Bottle – Cave Tours are so much fun, but they are about 2 or more hours depending on the tour you choose, you cannot bring any drinks other than water into the cave, so this is the perfect place to bring your refillable water bottle…there’s even a special bottle filling station in the welcome center.
  • “Go” before Go – There are no restrooms in the cave….which means no potty breaks for hours. If you have little ones then it might be a good time to put them in a pull-up just in case.
  • Lots of Tight Spaces – if you fear being trapped in tight spaces, I would highly recommend chatting with the park rangers about which tour would be best for you. There are a few tours with more open space that you would likely enjoy more than the ones with paths called “fat man’s misery” etc…
  • Schedule Your Tour in Advance – The cave tours book up fast and you may be out of luck if you try to show up that day and take the tour of your choice…especially at peak travel times. You can reserve your spot by visiting their website here.
  • Pack a Lunch - Once you get to the cave, there is nowhere around to eat except for one restaurant attached to the hotel. In my opinion its not that cost-effective and not very good food. We ate breakfast there, and its served buffet style…it didn’t seem freshly prepared, the service was really not great, and it cost over $65 for our family for food that we barely liked. You’d be better off to bring a blanket and have a picnic while enjoying the great outdoors…which is thankfully what we did for lunch. After all, you are visiting a National Park…you might as well soak up as much nature as you can…and its beautiful here so I know you won’t be sorry!
  • Plan to Stay All Day or Longer- There is so much more to enjoy here than the just exploring the caves…there are plenty of trails to explore, camping, horseback riding, boating, canoeing & kayaking and so much more… Check out the Things to Do sections of their website packed with tons of info so you can prepare.

 I’m so thankful to have a family full of adventurers!

I hope you enjoyed following along on our road trip…It was such a blast for us and we can’t wait to plan another one in the near future! There are just too many places to explore…perhaps we will return to the Smoky Mountains and go camping, or head out West toward the Rockies…no matter I’m sure we will LOVE it every step of the way!

 

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 5 – Mote Aquarium

Our time in Florida was drawing to a close…so far we have been able to squeeze in so much into our few days in the area. Thankfully we planned ahead to make the most of our time. We chose to spend our very last day there meeting up with some extended family near Sarasota to explore Mote Aquarium, then head to Anna Marie Island for a cookout at Aunt Cheryl’s place…and eventually end the night with a little more beach time.

Here’s a look at our schedule so far…

Our Road Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1 : Leave our home in Michigan at 5:30am and head to Gatlinburg Tennessee
  • Day 2: Spend the morning and afternoon exploring Gatlinburg, and some of the Smoky Mountains, then head to Florida
  • Day 3: Easter Sunday!!! Spend the day resting with family & soaking up some sun by the pool
  • Day 4: Visit my Dad and family south of Sarasota, Fl
  • Day 5: Relax by the pool, Shopping, Watch the Sunset on Siesta Key
  • Day 6: Visit Grandma Shorty in Winterhaven
  • Day 7: Visit Mote Aquarium & Big Banyas Family Bash on Anna Marie Island
  • Day 8: One last swim in the pool then Leave Florida and head to Kentucky
  • Day 9: Explore Mammoth Cave National Park, Hike the trails, Take a Cave Tour, Earn Junior Ranger Badge #1
  • Head home
  • Day 10: SLEEP!!!

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

We met up with our Banyas family and spent the day checking out all that Mote Aquarium had to offer. It was such a blast! Anytime we can sneak something educational into our family’s vacations then we are all for it! My kiddos are like sponges and not only want to have fun but they want to learn….they are so curious about the world around them and I want to keep taking full advantage of these years and giving them as many opportunities to explore everything they can. They will carry these moments with them for a lifetime.

I could’ve easily watched these jellyfish all day…they were so mesmerizing.

Lionfish & Jellyfish…oh my!

This Seaturtle loved Madyson…he even came over to say hi….or to high five her…we are still not sure which.

I am IN LOVE with these manatees! Aren’t they the cutest??!! I swear they are holding hands! or Fins! Clearly I need to study Manatee Anatomy a bit more.
Uncle Mike didn’t get a high five….
Our family especially loved the hands-on exhibits….here is Aunt Diane hanging with Eden getting ready to touch some sea creatures….
Out of everything we saw that day, these 3 sea creatures were the coolest of them all…
They also have Sharks at Mote Aquarium!!!!!

This particular Shark was a bit too excited to be in our pictures!

We are so thankful for the friendly staff who volunteered to take a BIG group picture of all of us! Yay for that!

What a fun day! It was very low key, with lots of things that kept the kids busy…but not so fast paced that we were worn out at the end. If you are ever in the Sarasota area, you must check it out!

Anna Marie Island

We spent our very last night in Florida with our extended Banyas crew enjoying a cookout, Aunt Cheryl’s yummy margaritas, and lots of great conversation…We are so thankful that we were able to connect with so much family!

Aunt Diane and Uncle Mike had fun hanging out with “Chicken Little” cousin Jessica’s pet rooster.

Our Last Bit of Beach Time

After all of the family festivities, we headed to the beach on Anna Marie Island right before sunset…thankfully Aunt Cheryl’s place is within walking distance of the beach! Close to sunset is absolutely our favorite time to head to the beach. In the evening you can enjoy less crowds, less threat of sunburn, a bit cooler temperatures, and gorgeous gorgeous light! We spent our last night in Florida playing in the sand, searching for seashells, and enjoying the ocean….all of us absolutely loved it! What makes this even more special is that The Hubs used to come to this exact same place when he visited his grandparents as a child…don’t you just love passing down traditions like this to future generations?

Next time we come to Florida, I vote we spend 90% of our time by the ocean….oh how I LOVE it so…

Oh my stars! The Hubs found a mermaid!

She’s a beauty! I think we’ll keep her!

Eden spent most of her time exploring the sand and digging up little sea creatures….while the other 2 kiddos enjoyed the water and dove into the waves….it was so good for our souls to unwind like this before packing up and starting our long journey home.

I Want to Be Wild, Beautiful and Free Just like the Sea

Coming Up Next : Banyas Family Road Trip Part 6 – Mammoth Cave National Park

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 4 – Siesta Key

So far our road trip was packed with places to go and people to see…

We made time to spend with The Banyas’, The Carter’s, and even Grandma Shorty…and we also hit up Gatlinburg Tennessee on the way down where we connected with my dear friend Jenny and her girls. So far we had made so many pretty amazing memories and we still had more to come…

Our Very First Family Road Trip was already shaping up to be a HUGE success!

Our Map

 

Our Road Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1 : Leave our home in Michigan at 5:30am and head to Gatlinburg Tennessee
  • Day 2: Spend the morning and afternoon exploring Gatlinburg, and some of the Smoky Mountains, then head to Florida
  • Day 3: Easter Sunday!!! Spend the day resting with family & soaking up some sun by the pool
  • Day 4: Visit my Dad and family south of Sarasota, Fl
  • Day 5: Relax by the pool, Shopping, Watch the Sunset on Siesta Key
  • Day 6: Visit Grandma Shorty in Winterhaven
  • Day 7: Visit Mote Aquarium & Big Banyas Family Bash on Anna Marie Island
  • Day 8: One last swim in the pool then Leave Florida and head to Kentucky
  • Day 9: Explore Mammoth Cave National Park, Hike the trails, Take a Cave Tour, Earn Junior Ranger Badge #1
  • Then head home
  • Day 10: SLEEP!!!

There’s Always Time for a Siesta Key Sunset

We were thrilled to make lots of time for family and friends….those moments are such a blessing…but we felt our time in Florida quickly passing us by without enough time to reset, recharge, and to unplug again from devices and even people and just BE STILL as a family. We needed to head to the ocean…where the salty air fills your lungs while you gaze upon the water crashing into the shore and instantly feel calm wash over your soul. We needed this like we needed air to breath…

We quickly realized this would be our ONLY NIGHT we could make this happen…

We couldn’t leave the area without at least spending a little time at Siesta Key Beach...after all it was voted The Most Beautiful Beach in America because of its gorgeous blue waters, and snow white sand. Its breathtaking! I used to visit my Grandma Dorothy every year not far from here during spring break or on my holiday breaks in college…and she would bring me to Siesta Key to soak up the sun. She LOVED showing off how white the sand was…I’m so glad she shared this treasure with me and now I had the chance to share this with my kiddos too.

Just as the mountains have always felt like home and awakened something in me that needed to be stirred…the ocean always helps me to put to rest some things that weigh me down. Here I can quiet my mind. Its the perfect place to find stillness and to reflect on the blessings we have as a family….to let go of the things that haven’t gone as planned….and truly enjoy being in the moment.

Thank you Lord for providing places as beautiful as this to quiet my soul

Live in the sunshine. swim in the sea. drink the wild air. -emerson

We headed from Palmetto to Siesta Key with only a few hours until sunset…and we got there just in time to enjoy the beach, and watch the sun dip beneath the ocean right as a storm started rolling in….it made the most beautiful light for pictures! So naturally I forced my kiddos to pose for my camera….this is what they came up with all on their own….

such goofballs! I LOVE them so much more than they will ever know!

the ocean is not much different from Lake Michigan where we spend our summers….the kids are used to small waves, but they weren’t too sure about salt water….

these 4 souls are my whole entire world….
I decided that this light was too gorgeous to not get more pictures with me in them too…so we handed off my camera to Harrison who took this shot of me and The Hubs….can you tell I was slightly nervous that he’d drop it in the sand? ha! He did a great job right? We have many future photographers in my little crew!

Then we took a selfie…I might have to invest in one of those awful yet amazing selfie sticks because of my short arms!

We spent the rest of that evening watching the kiddos play in the water while we snuggled on a blanket, with our toes in the sand, waiting for the last bit of light to disappear…

I could’ve stayed there forever….

The sunset was so gorgeous, but then the big storm we were watching from afar came rolling in fast, and we knew it was time to go. We almost made it all the way back before it started pouring on us right before we got to our car. It wasn’t so bad to get caught in the downpour…the fresh rain helped us to wash away some of the ocean’s salt that had been stinging our sunburned skin…it reminded me so much of that song that says:

What if your blessings come through raindrops

More days like this please….

Coming up Next : Part 5 Mote Aquarium & Anna Marie Island

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 3 – Make Time for Family

Roadtrippin’ to Sunny Florida

This year our little family set our sights on an Epic Family Road Trip for Spring Break…we wanted to escape the cold in Michigan and head to beautiful sunny Florida. It was our very first road trip as a family, and we weren’t sure how everything would go…but we were up for the challenge. Day 1 had only a few minor bumps in the road, but we made it Gatlinburg Tennessee and spent a very short day exploring….

Now it was time to make our way to the Sunshine State!

Our Road Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1 : Leave our home in Michigan at 5:30am and head to Gatlinburg Tennessee
  • Day 2: Spend the morning and afternoon exploring Gatlinburg, and some of the Smoky Mountains, then head to Florida
  • Day 3: Easter Sunday!!! Spend the day resting with family & soaking up some sun by the pool
  • Day 4: Visit my Dad and family south of Sarasota, Fl
  • Day 5: Relax by the pool, Shopping, Watch the Sunset on Siesta Key
  • Day 6: Visit Grandma Shorty in Winterhaven
  • Day 7: Visit Mote Aquarium & Big Banyas Family Bash on Anna Marie Island
  • Day 8: One last swim in the pool then Leave Florida and head to Kentucky
  • Day 9: Explore Mammoth Cave National Park, Hike the trails, Take a Cave Tour, Earn Junior Ranger Badge #1
  • Then head home
  • Day 10: SLEEP!!!

Our Map

Besides the obvious perks of enjoying some Florida sunshine…we wanted to make our trip about Family as much as possible.

Before we left on our trip, we tried to loosely plan out each day so we could make the most of our time…afterall once we arrived it Florida, we only had 5 full days to cram everything in. We kept FAMILY at the forefront of our minds as we created a schedule that allowed us to see as much family as possible without completely wearing ourselves out. Our goal was to create more lasting memories with some pretty amazing people…some of which we rarely get to see. Life is too short and too precious not to make more time for days like these! So for the next few days we spent our time having great conversations, taking tons of pictures, soaking up each others’ presence…and of course giving and getting lots of hugs and kisses…..it was exactly what we were hoping for.

Its not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters

Once we arrived in Florida, it was 4am….yay for construction season! We spent almost all of Easter Sunday relaxing with The Hubs’ parents at their adorable place in Palmetto, Florida. They are the cutest snowbirds ever right?! We are so thankful they let us crash with them for the week! <3

the kiddos had a blast swimming for hours…and riding in golf carts….livin’ the dream!

Visiting The Carter Family

The next day, were so thankful to also get to spend time with my dad and family south of Sarasota. Living so far from family isn’t easy, so getting to spend time with them was such a treat! I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, because its so much better for me to be in the moment and soak it all in than to be stuck behind a camera…that’s literally how I used to spend far too much of my time. This year has been so much more amazing since I’ve committed to living life more and more “unplugged”.

There were some must have photos that I wanted….and one of those was a picture with my daddy

I probably only have a few of these over my whole lifetime. Somehow the two of us seem to avoid the camera…or we are the ones taking pictures. Good thing The Hubs knows how to use my real camera! This picture needs to be printed out and displayed somewhere in my home for sure!

It was also so very special to be able to see my beautiful sisters…Nicki and Aleia! We are rarely in the same place all at the same time!

and I finally got to meet my little sister Aleia’s boyfriend…they’ve been dating for a few years already…they met in High School and have been together ever since. Aren’t they adorable together? ….even with that creeper behind them

…luckily he even fits right in with all of us (:

Then it was time for a picture of just us ladies…my Step-Mom and my sisters and adorable niece Brooke who just turned 18…how did that happen??!! I am dying to go back and visit them again ASAP!
while we were posing for these…this is what was going on behind us….
and this….
then some of this…

which is why we forgot to get a really good group shot of all of us…and why Madyson, Harrison, Logan and Eden are barely in any pictures from this day…we just couldn’t get them out of the pool! That’s ok…how can you blame them right?

 

Visiting Grandma Shorty

We are so lucky that so much family only lives about and hour or so away from each other! This made it so much easier to make time to visit everyone that we could without being stuck in the car forever. We woke up bright and early to head to Winterhaven to spend the day with my tiny little Grandma.  She’s insanely adorable, about 4’9″ and has a HUGE personality….

more time with her is always a blast!

 Grandma Shorty wasn’t always called Grandma Shorty

….when I was growing up she was “Grandma Cahours”, then after my grandpa passed away and she remarried she was known as  “Grandma Rutherford”

….then after I became an adult with my own kiddos, she gifted the ladies in our family an adorable cookbook of her favorite recipes that were passed down over the years….and on the cover was the title “Grandma Shorty’s Cookbook”. I’m not certain if she came up with the name, or if one of my younger cousins started calling her that for obvious reasons….but it stuck with me….and I love it! She’s completely adorable and sassy and totally where I get so many of my traits. It was such a delight to spend the day with her in her new place in Florida where she spends the Winter.

While we were there she took us to visit her brother Dave….my great uncle…and his wife Aunt Elaine. I have so many fun memories of him from my childhood….its so great to see how much he’s loving Florida life! See that fish above our heads? This is a replica of one that he caught during one of his many deep sea fishing trips….how cool is that??!!

We spent the rest of the day eating wonderful food, swimming in the pool and feeding turtles off the docks….so glad we didn’t run into any alligators! We were warned to watch out for them and I was a bit nervous.

Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Grandma and head back to home base in Palmetto. We made some really great memories over the past few days and we were so thankful! See you back in The Mitten Grandma!

Stay Tuned for Part 4 ….Siesta Key!!!

 

April 28, 2015 - 9:28 am

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 2 – Gatlinburg Tennessee & The Smoky Mountains » Kerri Banyas Photography - [...] « Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 1 – Road Trip Anyone? Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 3 – Make Time for Family » [...]

April 29, 2015 - 8:45 am

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 4 – Siesta Key » Kerri Banyas Photography - [...] made time to spend with The Banyas’, The Carter’s, and even Grandma Shorty…and we also hit up Gatlinburg Tennessee on the way down where we connected with my dear [...]

Banyas Family Road Trip 2015 – Part 2 – Gatlinburg Tennessee & The Smoky Mountains

Gatlinburg, Tennessee & The Great Smoky Mountains

This year our little party of 5 decided to take an EPIC ROAD TRIP to Florida for Spring Break….we planned like crazy, packed up the car and away we went…

Our Map

Our Road Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1 : Leave our home in Michigan at 5:30am and head to Gatlinburg Tennessee
  • Day 2: Spend the morning and afternoon exploring Gatlinburg, and some of the Smoky Mountains, then head to Florida
  • Day 3: Easter Sunday!!! Spend the day resting with family & soaking up some sun by the pool
  • Day 4: Visit my Dad and family south of Sarasota, Fl
  • Day 5: Relax by the pool, Shopping, Watch the Sunset on Siesta Key
  • Day 6: Visit Grandma Shorty in Winterhaven
  • Day 7: Visit Mote Aquarium & Big Banyas Family Bash on Anna Marie Island
  • Day 8: One last swim in the pool then Leave Florida and head to Kentucky
  • Day 9: Explore Mammoth Cave National Park, Hike the trails, Take a Cave Tour, Earn Junior Ranger Badge #1
  • Then head home
  • Day 10: SLEEP!!!

Our first day of our epic Road trip started out as planned….

We left home before the sun came up on Good Friday…wearing our comfy clothes and packed tightly into the car full of suitcases, snacks, and activities to make all of the hours on the road more fun. Everyone else must have had the same idea to head South at the same time….so instead of a 10 hour drive, we ended up getting stuck in traffic and road construction on I-75…and made it to Gatlinburg within 13 hours…much later than expected….I blame the blurry no-makeup selfies on going insane from all of those traffic jams. It seemed like a great idea at the time.

Thankfully we made it to our hotel safe and sound…and just in time to avoid a giant storm heading through the area! yay! Driving through hurricane force winds, lightning and hail storms in the mountains is NOT my idea of fun. We were hoping to have time that evening to swim in the hotel pool and explore the city a little, but after getting in so late at night, we opted to do everything the next morning and afternoon.

This meant we had LESS than 24 hours to explore!

In Gatlinburg, we stayed at the Edgewater Hotel right in town and within walking distance of everything. It was a wonderful little place that had an indoor/outdoor heated pool that our kiddos LOVED. and a free continental Southern Style breakfast that definitely saved us some time and some cash. When you are feeding 5 people on a road trip, every little bit helps. We barely got to use our room, because we were too excited to explore, but it was worth coming back and staying there again. Our room came equipped with a mini-fridge, a fireplace, and a beautiful balcony overlooking the pool and the mountains where The Hubs and I had our early morning coffee. So peaceful! If you’re looking for a place to stay in that area, I highly recommend it!

While we were checking out what Gatlinburg had to offer for our less than 24 hour pit stop, we walked around town and checked out the shops, then decided to ride the Mountain Coaster, and it was awesome! All 5 of us had a blast and honestly I would’ve rode it again if it was in our budget. Can you tell that Eden LOVED it??!! This kid loves thrill rides! If you ever visit Gatlinburg, this is a must!

Make Time for Friends whenever you can

Later that day we connected with my sweet friend Jenny and her girls who drove in from Asheville…we hadn’t seen each other in almost 10 years! Jenny and I have been BFF’s since I met her in 11th grade while living in North Carolina. I had hopped around a bit from school to school and my family moved houses almost every year, and it was hard to feel like I fit in anywhere sometimes….meeting her was exactly what I needed. She was the kind of friend who didn’t care if I was a bit quirky, or that I talked too much…or that I was far too obsessed with boys….she loved me unconditionally and always made me feel like family.  She’s basically like a sister to me (: I LOVE this girl with my WHOLE HEART!

It was a very short visit, but we were blessed to be able to get a little bit of time together before we headed out of town….and to get a picture of us with our kiddos…LOVE!

On the way out of Gatlinburg, we headed through the Smoky Mountains and stopped a few times to soak up some fresh mountain air and fabulous scenery. I was so happy that we had the chance to spend some time there….

When I moved away from Asheville, I left part of my heart in those mountains and being back there made me feel like I was HOME.

I cannot wait to go back and spend more time exploring with my little crew! I’m already dreaming up an amazing camping trip for the near future!

Our oldest two kiddos were LOVING these breathtaking views and rushing mountains streams….and climbing all of the giant rocks! Harrison is definitely part mountain goat! Poor Eden slept through this part of the trip, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to explore a bit while driving through.

We recruited Madyson to take a few pics of me and The Hubs…iphone pics are not as nice as my real camera, but they will do! Its nice to actually be IN some vacation pictures…am I right mommas?

Yes, we are a goofy bunch!

I seriously LOVE this man…even after being trapped in the car with 3 kiddos for days upon days….I couldn’t do life without him.

I’m pretty sure we all fell in major love with these mountains

For me and The Hubs, our short visit simply rekindled something we’ve already had for this magical place…but it was amazing to see the kids feel the same way too! Oh how my heart is already yearning to come back to this….

Stay tuned for part 3….next stop Florida!!!

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