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  • Writer's pictureMiranda

KenTen with Family & Friends

In Kentucky and Tennessee we had an 11-day vacation from Harvey, our RV. Instead we opted for a hotel stay with my sister, Belinda, and her family in Hebron, KY, a suburb of Cincinnati. They spent an extended weekend driving down to meet us and make memories. We had been counting down the weeks and days until we would see the Reiers since we left.

We were waiting in the parking lot of the hotel when they pulled in after a 15-h0ur drive! Dinner and then a swim in the pool before settling into our adjoining rooms (kids and adults) for chatter, laughter and planning. We had four days together and we were going to make the most of them!

A visit to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum filled our hearts and minds. We toured a life-size replica of the ark first, thinking deeper about why flooding rains occurred, how God protected Noah and his family, what caring for all the animals could have been like, and starting again after the waters receded.

After a quick tailgate picnic lunch in the parking lot, we were off to the Creation Museum about 45 miles away. Beautiful gardens, a 4-D movie experience of the first six days of creation described in Genesis, and exhibits that contrasted biblical views versus world views on a variety of creation aspects were highlights of the afternoon.

We capped off the day with pizza worth driving to Indiana and then back to Kentucky for, more time in the pool, and planning our next days. The "cousin energy", as we have called it since the kids were little, was abounding and could be heard as you walked down the hotel hallway. Thankfully no noise complaints were made by other hotel guests.

The next morning our families headed south to Mammoth Cave National Park. We didn't realize that reservations were needed for the deep cave encounters, 2-5 hours underground. So instead, we settled for about an hour tour of the largest portion of the cave system and a 3.3-mile hike in the Park along the river before heading to stay with college friends, the Rustads, in Bowling Green, KY.

Chuck grilled his special smash burgers and everyone contributed sides for a buffet dinner. Sean then proceeded with a southern tradition of bourbon tasting. This was very fitting as we had followed the Bourbon Trail traveling south the 200 miles from northern Kentucky to Bowling Green with Chuck and Paul resisting a stop. The fact that we were were driving the RV and pulling the car-hauler trailer probably had a little to do with no stops.

Our final two days together were set aside for doing kid-friendly things in Nashville, TN. Back in April, the adults had been to Nashville and had a great time! So we had a good idea of what was kid-friendly and what else we wanted to see and do. The weather was beautiful and Sean and his girls (Jessi had to work) were able to join us one of the days too as we...

  • Ate at Biscuit Love

  • Took photos by the Wings mural

  • Got coffee at Starbucks

  • Visited shops in the Gulch

  • Drove down Broadway (not in Harvey the RV, which had been suggested)

  • Listened to music as we strolled down Broadway

  • Tried on boots and hats

  • Shopped for souvenirs

  • Walked the Pedestrian Bridge

  • Ate southern fried chicken at Hattie B's (Belinda will do the Hot spice level next time)

  • Toured the 9-acres of indoor gardens and waterways at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and met up with a friend from home

  • Took photos by the "I Believe in Nashville" mural

  • Sampled Whiskey, for those over 21

  • Visited the American Pickers store

  • Listened to song writers tell the story behind their songs and sing them at The Listening Room. This was a favorite!

We packed the four days with the Reiers for sure, but oh so good! Three am goodbye with hugs and a prayer for safety and they were headed home.

We were blessed to have the Rustad's continue to host us in their home for the next week. It was a great time catching up with dear friends and living life in a space larger than 26 feet. We had bedroom doors that closed, personal space for school and work, a full kitchen to cook in, a non-public laundry room, a lawn to help care for, and even a piano for Chuck and Ben to play.

Kate especially loved the time as she quickly made friends with their daughters who are her same age and just a few years younger. Dolls, horses, movies, bike rides, hammocks, and art filled their time together after school and on the weekend.

We shared meals together including Cranberry Turkey Wreath (see the recipe in our Cranberry Blog), a soup buffet, all things smoked (chili, pork butt, and ribs), steak and charcuterie boards.

We even got dressed up and had an adult date night out!

The kids got an opportunity to dress up as well...Kate a hip hop dancer, Ben a cowboy and Mallory sported a pumpkin patch t-shirt and sweater she bought at a boutique earlier in the week. We spent Halloween with the Rustads and learned that holidays in the south are a BIG deal!

We got to join in the fun carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. Facebook chatter set the time, a food truck arrived, and families filled the streets starting at 4:30pm. We pulled a wagon with waters and back-up pillow cases for the kids to dump their candy buckets into as they got too full. This occurred many times over the next two hours. Mallory quickly abandoned meandering with the kids for passing out candy with Sean at the Rustad's home.

By dark, our trick-or-treating was done and the candy at the Rustads was gone. The kids didn't want the evening fun to end so Ben decided to hand out the candy he had gotten as more trick-or-treaters came. The girls added their candy too after they had sorted and traded for their favorites. The entire neighborhood had been so welcoming to us Minnesotans!

November 1, we hit the road again with freshly washed bedding and restocked cupboards for the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.


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