Monday, January 19, 2015

Keep Calm and Ski on

     The weekend has come to a close and all have safely made it back to Auburn. The overall assessment was very positive, with Scouts agreeing that it was a great experience. As we checked out of the motel, the management had high praise for the conduct of our Scouts and said they would be willing to have us return any time. Of course, it should be noted that in contrast to some of the other youth groups staying in the same motel, our Scouts seemed almost angelic!

     Following a good breakfast at the local Flapjack House, the troop loaded up the cars and headed down the road to Pigeon Forge. The final entertainment for the trip was the opportunity to race at one of the many go-cart tracks. Scouts (and a few leaders, siblings, and parents) made high speed turns around three different tracks. Liam best summed up the go-cart experience using words such as "awesome" and "great."

Creighton tops the crest of the upper track. 

     As we left Pigeon Forge, it seemed that every person in the area was attempting to leave at the same time. The result was an hour's journey for the few miles out to I-40. However, once on the Interstate, it was smooth sailing for home. Even Atlanta traffic seemed tame in contrast to Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. With a lunch stop in Athens, TN, the last of the vehicles pulled into the church parking lot around 5:30 PM local time.

Liam, Ethan, Jason, and Joe enjoy lunch at Subway.

       Although a campout critique will be conducted as part of the next troop meeting, several of the Scouts expressed their thoughts about the favorite elements of the trip. Although the go-carts and scenic chairlift were enjoyable, the overwhelming favorite activity was the skiing.

  Aiden said that he "enjoyed learning to ski," even though he didn't spend a long time doing it.

  Ethan noted that, "it was great hanging out with friends and having fun in the snow."

  Creighton observed that "no one quit skiing" but instead gave it their best shot. He also said that "skiing with friends was the best part" of the trip.

  Josh flatly stated that "skiing is [his] new favorite sport!"

  Rusty loved the trip because he, "discovered that skiing is something that [he] can do well."

  The assistant senior patrol leader, Will, offered the opinion that the newer Scouts and the veteran Scouts had "bonded through fellowship" as a result of the shared experience.

  The final word came from Andrew as senior patrol leader. He commented that the trip was "good overall and a good learning experience for the younger Scouts to try something new." The troop certainly met the challenge and had a great time in the process.

     For more photos, check out the online photo gallery.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Skiing through a Winter Wonderland

     Our day of skiing did not start out promising. The skies were gray and rain was falling as we made our way to the aerial tramway at 8:00 AM this morning. However, by the time we were issued our boots, skis, and helmets at the Ober Gatlinburg facility; the rain had stopped and the overcast was clearing. Before long, the sun peeked over the mountaintop and heralded the start to a beautiful day.

Jason and Ethan peer out the rain-soaked tram windows
as we start our ascent to Ober Gatlinburg. 

     While the more experienced skiers headed straight out to the slopes, most of the Scouts attended ski school to learn the basic skills they needed to know before their own travels across the snow. While most picked it up pretty quickly, there were a few Scouts (and some adults) who spent more time horizontal in the snow than upright on their skis. However, as the morning wore on, the balance and confidence began to emerge, allowing most to claim some measure of success.

Scouts line up to practice their moves
under the watchful eye of the ski instructor.

     At lunchtime everyone came in from the slopes to refuel, rest, and refit. Although there had not been any problems, the Scouts seemed to have trouble remembering to stay with a buddy. It was easy to become separated during a ski run and several had lost track of their assigned buddy. During lunch, the leadership reiterated this safety requirement and in the afternoon this was not as much of an issue. Despite the crowds during the holiday weekend, the skiing was great and the opportunities for fun were numerous. In addition to skiing, Scouts also had the option to go ice skating, ride a scenic chair lift to the top of the mountain, or visit the wildlife exhibit. They also took advantage of the numerous eating establishments to fulfill a need for something to snack upon.

Andrew, Will, Trey, Kyle, and Josh pause at the
top of an intermediate slope before beginning their descent.
     As darkness began to fall, the troop gathered at the Seasons of Ober restaurant to enjoy a good dinner. Many elected to try one of the more unusual menu items - mac & cheese stuffed chicken. The verdict seemed mixed, with several claiming it to be haute cuisine while others were less than impressed. Following the meal, part of the group turned in their equipment and headed back to the motel. The rest of the Scouts, and accompanying adult leaders, stayed out until the slopes closed at 10:00 PM. Everyone has made it back to the motel at this hour and will soon be fast asleep. A hearty breakfast is planned for the morning at the Flapjack House prior to heading back to Auburn.

     For more photos, check the online photo gallery.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Getting in touch with our inner tube

     The expectation was high as we headed upwards to the land of manufactured snow and it did not disappoint. Scouts, leaders, and family members hit the snow slides this afternoon with much enthusiasm.

All aboard for the journey upward.

After a 2.1 mile journey up the mountain on the aerial tramway to Ober Gatlinburg, we were issued our tubes and headed to the top of the slides on the conveyor belt - aka the magic carpet. The weather was beautiful and the snow was cold as we made numerous trips down the slides at breakneck speeds. For some, the speed was not diminished at all by the rubber pads at the bottom of the slides and the ride ended with a resounding thump into the padded barriers beyond the end point of the slides. However, that just made the run more exciting.

Heading down the slides at top speed. 
     After an hour and a half of tubing, we loaded aboard the tram and headed back to town. After another walk around the main drag, we settled in for a nice dinner at Blaine's. We received excellent service from both the management (who were able to get us a table for 18 in a reasonable time) and the waitress, who carefully looked after our every need.

An intimate setting for eighteen hungry Scouts. 

     After returning to the motel, we held a short meeting to update everyone about our activities on the morrow. Several Scouts had numerous questions about everything from ski school and the different types of slopes to the food we would eat. Following the meeting, the new assistant patrol leader of the Carnivorous Panda Patrol received a birthday surprise. Scouts sang Happy Birthday to Everett in celebration of his twelfth birthday and helped him eat some nice cupcakes, courtesy of his father and GiGi's Cupcakes. The boys are now in their rooms, no doubt dreaming of skis and snow.

     For more photos of the days events, check out the online photo gallery.

Around the Town

Rooming on the Gatlinburg "strip"...
a noticeable difference from the
tents and dining flies that adorn our
usual weekend outings!
Troop 50 arrived in Gatlinburg, Tenn., during the wee hours of the morning for our (now) annual January family trip. For the second year, the Scouts decided to once again hit the ski slopes of East Tennessee. After a rush hour departure from Auburn (or at least for what passes as rush hour in Auburn), we made a dinner stop in Cartersville, Ga.. We arrived at our hotel around 1:15 a.m. local time.

The dawn came early, but after a hearty breakfast the Scouts were out on the town. After spending some time (and money) in an arcade and a candy kitchen, we hit Pizza Hut for lunch. Several large pizzas and some hot wings were readily consumed.

What do you get when you mix more than a dozen growing boys and
a number of large pizzas? No leftovers, that's for sure!

Joe (left) and Everett (right) ready to tube the slopes of Ober Gatlinburg,
or maybe that's the slopes of the Arctic Tundra?!
This afternoon, we are heading up the mountain to Ober Gatlinburg for some snow tubing. As the photo of Joe and Everett attests, the Scouts are prepared for anything. Our next post will document our success (?) running the tubes.

Check out our online photo album for more photos to come!