Every year for the last 30ish years all my Dad’s family gets together for our “Family Fall Leaf Trip.” What is this odd trip you might ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like. The entire family, 31 of us in total, gets together to look at leaves.
Like anything, this trip has evolved over time. The Family Fall Leaf Trip started out with the whole family loading up in a 15 passenger van my Dad would rent and driving around different mountain towns looking at leaves.
When we were little we thought this was the absolute BEST. The thought of being crammed in a vehicle with our entire family sounded like an absolute joy. The night before the trip my Dad would roll into the driveway with the van and we would be so jacked. All the kids would spend hours “exploring” it and playing inside of it. (as if we weren’t going to get enough van time over the next few days, ha!)
We no longer rent the 15 passenger van, which is actually kind of sad. Some of my best childhood memories can be tied to those vans. Now, my grandparents rent a cabin in the mountains instead. They typically rent a cabin in Wears Valley, just outside of Gatlinburg for 4-5 days.
You might be thinking, but you still haven’t told us WHY you have a family fall leaf trip… Fun fact, I’m originally from Louisiana and all my extended family still lives there, the leaves in Louisiana don’t change like the do in the mountains. So it is literally a family. fall. leaf. trip. We literally are in the mountains to see the colors of the leaves change. I remember my cousins diligently collecting colorful leaves each year to bring back to their classes to show all the kids who didn’t go on a family fall leaf trip (because, really who does that) the fall colors.
Leaf collecting is still a highlight of the trip, but now that we have so many young kids and my grandparents are in their 80s, no one is really up for long hikes or long car rides. We do try and venture out from our cabin and do a few things, because let’s face it, that many people crammed into a cabin, no matter how nice, can only spell disaster. Here are a few of our favorite things from the area over the years: Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Treemont, Elkmont, Newfound Gap, Cherokee Visitors Center, AppleBarn, Gooney Golf, Goats on a Roof, Mountain Coaster, Riding Horses, and everyone’s all time favorite Cades Cove.
So, cousins, aunts and uncles come and go when they can but the spirit of the family fall leaf trip is still there.