When I was growing up we went to the Smokie Mountains almost every weekend. Usually we would hit Florida a couple of times a year as well and there would be side trips to visit aunts and uncles in other states. Hardly ever were one of these vacations planned.
Typically we would come home from school on Friday with Mom and Dad waiting with the big surprise announcement. "We're leaving for Florida. How fast can you pack?" Me and Billy and Rhonda could be ready to go in less than an hour. Rhonda and I shared a trunk and it would be packed and loaded along with all the other family luggage faster than my mom could do her make up and her hair!
Usually she would spend the day before we left washing clothes (which is why we kids could pack so fast). She would fry chicken and make homemade doughnuts so that we could make good time on the road and not have to worry about stopping to eat somewhere. My mouth is watering just thinking about that stuff.
I would always sit in the middle. That way I could lean up between the seats the whole way and eavesdrop on my parent's conversations. It also gave me the greatest input as to which tourist trap we would stop at along the way and we didn't miss many of those.
We would drive around until we found a motel that met our requirements (mostly a pool with a slide). We had our favorites but since we never planned anything many times we would have to stay wherever we could find a vacancy. In our family whenever daddy said, "are you ready to go have a good time?!", that meant it was time to go eat at some wonderful restaurant. We loved pancake houses and steak houses but we appreciated all kinds of restaruants and always went all the way!
The Smokies have those great fish farms as well. You go to a fishing pond and the trout are so hungry that you can hold a hook with a piece of corn on it over the water and the fish will jump out and grab it. My favorite place would let us buy little bags of corn and we would incite a feeding frenzy by throwing in in the pond by the handfuls. It was great!
After we would catch enough fish for all 5 of us, there was on onsite restaurant to fry it up fresh for us. The first time they brought those fish out to us our anticipation and excitement was completely killed by the site of the heads of the fish still attached to them on the plates. Mom and dad had to promptly gather the plates and ask the chef to cut the heads off so we could eat it. I still don't like for my food to stare back at me to this day. It may be the gourmet way but it is NOT my way.
I could go on and on about those vacations but it is time to stop now.