Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013: A Train Ride in North Carolina

One of the most enjoyable (though exhausting) days of our vacation was the day we drove from Gatlinburg through the national park to Bryson City, NC. There, we caught a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad out to the Nantahala Gorge. 



















This trip started with a very long car ride through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The distance was only about 40 miles, but it took us over two hours of driving on a two-lane, winding road through the mountains. We arrived in plenty of time for our 10 a.m. train, and both Nick and Henry couldn't wait get on board. 



















We chose an open-air car so we could feel the breeze as the train moved. I think we ended up with the perfect seats for someone with little kids--they could see through the wall and watch the train move!

Nick was showing off his ticket.









































We sat facing out, toward the scenery. 



















The kids were allowed to stand on the seats, as well, so long as an adult was watching out for them. 





































Being on a train like this never got boring for the boys. 

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The scenery was really beautiful, and it gave us a nice picture of this part of the world. 



















Our seats were relatively comfortable, and we could move around as much as we wanted to take pictures or, well, chase the kids.



















There were lots of children on this train, and I can understand why. We also lucked out; it was a relatively cool day (in the 80s) and the breeze kept us comfortable.



Oh, and did I mention there were drinks? I managed about half of this Tequila Sunrise, which was pretty yummy. 



This train trip runs along the river, and water views are always my favorite. From our noisy, creaky train, the views seemed especially peaceful. 



Oh, and did I mention there were balloons? A balloon artist traveled around making creations for all of the kids. 


The problem with balloons, though, is that they inevitably pop, resulting in lots of tears. Our balloon artist actually made replacement balloons when she walked through our car a second time. 


The only stop on this train ride was at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where we saw people rafting on a gorgeous and very exciting part of the river. 



We only had about an hour to visit this beautiful place. I wish we'd had longer to explore. 

Nick wanted to go kayaking. I think he'll have to wait a few years. 


Greg let the boys wade in a safe part of the river, and they loved it, even if they did get quite wet. Henry eventually required a complete outfit change. 


How many times do you get to experience a place like this? It was truly amazing. 



This place would make a nice day trip, actually. I could spend a day exploring, picnicking, and listening to the water. 



I was kind of sad when we had to get back on the train, but at least we had another hour of beautiful scenery to watch as we chugged along. It rained part of the time, but even that was pretty to watch from the comfort of our train. 


I'm so glad we decided to go on this trip.  :)





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