On Sunday we woke early, ate our "continental breakfast" and then walked into Gatlinburg.
We had tickets for Ripley's Aquarium and had a really good time exploring all the unusual animals!
As with most things slapped with the Ripley's name, it was geared more for entertainment than education, but it was still an enjoyable way to spend the morning.
The one thing that really stood out for me was that the animals were so active! This turtle kept swimming over and looking at us. We could get about 3-4 feet away from him at the top of the tank.
I had never seen a saw fish this size before! It was massive!
Seahorses are one of Anna's favorite exhibits.
This octopus was awesome. It kept flinging itself from one side of the tank to the other! Anna and I both agreed we could've sat there and watched it all day!
(I doubt the other patrons would've appreciated that)
My favorites were the cuddlefish. I've seen them occasionally at aquariums over the years, and even Newport had an exhibit going for a short time. I just find them to be the most interesting little creatures. This tank was filled with 50 babies who were hiding in the rocks.
Anna liked the penguins, too!
After the aquarium we wandered through the town. Although it was cute, it was filled with tourist-trap type of stores and attractions. It reminded us alot of Niagara Falls, or the boardwalk in Ocean City. While it was okay to walk through, the crowds of mulleted and teased hair people sucking on cancer sticks gave me the heebie-jeebies. It was also insane to have a pedestrian crosswalk every 20 feet or so, and still have people jaywalking. Seemed like an accident waiting to happen with 4 lanes of traffic navigating through the town. In fact, as we were leaving an ambulance appeared up the street, presumably to scrape a tourist off the road.
With our bellies full of yummy food and Kilwin's ice cream we hit the road and waved good-bye to Gatlinburg.
Along the way we drove to Little Greenbriar's School. This was an old one-room schoolhouse that educated children from an unbelievable nine miles around. And I don't let my child go farther that the very nearby cul-de-sac. I just can't imagine letting little ones go traipsing through 9 miles of forested hills to get to school!
Anna looks right at home, don't you think?
Our drive home was mostly uneventful, with the exception of running into more of those hot rod people in a traffic jam in the middle of Tennessee. At one point, after crawling about a mile in an hour, they started pulling off the road, popping their hoods and setting themselves in their fold out chairs. It was like the car show followed us! =P
Despite that we had a great time and would love to go back and explore the mountains some more!