This past week my family and I got to go on a little field trip not to far away from home. We were blessed with tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies located in Gatlinburg, TN and decided to make a day of it.
This was our first time at this particular aquarium. I love learning and my kids enjoy seeing new animals. So this was a fun experience had by all. The aquarium only takes a couple hours to go through unless you stop for some of the classes/shows that they have throughout the day. We got the opportunity to pet different sea creatures as well as observe different ones as well. We pet a horseshoe crab. We let little fish feed off the dead skin on our hands. And we pet a manna ray. Boo wasn’t going for touching these creatures. And when the little fish were nibbling on my hand she was worried they would eat my rings. She was too cute. I think one of her favorite parts was the shark tunnel and the jellies.
She absolutely hated the HUGE crab. I mean they were seriously HUGE about as big as me. Which is absolutely crazy. I had never seen a crab so big. Boo thought they looked like giant sea spiders and walked way around them to avoid them. Boo’s most favorite part was the penguins. Of course who doesn’t love penguins. That is one of Andy’s favorite creatures. They are so cute. But I think his love for the hose animals stems more from his love of the movie Mary Poppins than anything else. It was pretty cool that they had name bands on their arms. So you can actually see what each penguins name was.
One of the most interesting creatures we saw was a Sea Dragon. I had never seen one before and it looked like a cross of a sea horse and some kind sea plant. It was super cool.
After we spent a couple hours at the aquarium we headed down the road a ways and visited Cade’s Cove. In my memory this was the first time I had been there. Of course I may have been there as a kid and not remembered it since I lived in East TN for 8 years when I was a little girl. Cade’s Cove is a really cool historic area of an old farming community. It consists of 6+ cabins/homesteads, 3 churches and a mill (visitor center) and numerous walking/riding trails.
The area is picturesque. It felt so tranquil. What I would not give to live in a place like that where you were surrounded by nature and nestled into a valley of the Great Smokey Mountains. Even as overcast as the day was it was still beautiful and I can only imagine the scene with flowers blooming and the sun shining. Lucky for us the rain that threatened held off until the very last 15 minutes of our driving tour. Of course we got out and did view some of the cabins and churches. It would be pretty awesome to hike the cove though.
On the drive to the cove Andy and I were talking and we both mentioned that we hoped we would see bears. That was the one thing I wanted to see more than anything, because I had never seen a bear in the wild. And God just showing us how much he cares even for the little things we ask provided that to us. We not only saw a bear we saw a mama bear and her cub about 30 feet below the road scrounging for food. She didn’t seem to mind that a number of people had pulled over to the side of the road and were taking her picture. She and her cub just went about their business. It was amazing. God is so amazing.
If you are ever in East TN I highly recommend stopping in both places. It was an awesome Saturday.