Wednesday, September 16, 2015
We set off in the 2011 Sienna, two adults, three kids, one dog, and about 600 pounds of assorted gear, food, equipment, clothes, stuffed animals (yes, seriously), and a healthy sense of adventure in the left seat. The healthy sense of trepidation sat in the right seat.
Notwithstanding the typical crowds that can be expected on Labor Day weekend in the mountains of Western North Carolina, we managed to snag a drive-up campsite at the NPS' Curtis Creek Campground, just a few miles up a dirt road from the small town of Old Fort, NC. Continuing up that same dirt road about 5 miles and 3000' of elevation gain, one will pop out on the Blue Ridge Parkway at around milepost 350 or so.
We stopped off at Curtis Creek and briefly set up camp at Site Number 11, then piled back in the van with GG, who met us at the campsite. We headed up that little dirt road, winding and wending higher and higher through the tulip poplars, oaks and laurels as we watched the outside temperature gauge on the van drop from 71, to 68, to 64, to 62 (you'll lose around 3 degrees per 1000' of elevation gain). Once we hit the Parkway, we rolled west and North about 5 miles to Hwy 128, the turnoff into Mt. Mitchell State Park. You gain another 1200' or so before you reach the summit parking lot - by the time we got there, it was down to 57 degrees and alternating between sunny blue skies and misty foggy interior of passing clouds.
|Mt Mitchell Overlook|
We had packed a picnic lunch and feasted among the stunted pines, spruces and firs on the north side of the summit. Once sated, we loaded up and trooped off through the woods for the 1 mile walk to the summit of Mt. Craig, 6647' high and just up the ridge from Mitchell.
The last time I had passed through these woods, Anna and I had just finished the Black Mountain Crest Trail. It's hard to believe that was more than 7 years ago. The trail, though short, had a lot more up and down than I remembered. We made it mostly up Craig to a nice little rock outcrop, took a break, and then turned back. The kids were amazed to be able to see clouds passing by and around us at the same altitude. They are some good little troopers, scrambling up and down the rocks and running through the pines and ferns. They almost made it back to the parking lot before the issue of being carried ever came up.
|Basically atop Mt Craig|
|Amidst the boreal conifers, on the trail back from Mt Craig|
Doc bemoaned the lack of wine in our alcohol-free campsite - surely the only drawback of this location is being locating in the "dry" McDowell County. I will concede than GG and I shared a small nip of single malt, purely for medicinal purposes. Doc can't quite stomach the heavy peat odor.
Monday, August 24, 2015
So now there is only one left at Children's Corner Daycare. Sam has been proud to announce to all the ladies at daycare that he is "the last Shawberry left here!" I thought I'd be more nostalgic for our days of wrinkled knees and drool and thumb sucking. I thought watching them go off to elementary school would be harder than this. But, somehow, their eagerness to tug my hand down the path of life is just so much fun.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
The floor of the lobby, by the big plate glass windows, also appears to be a great place to take pictures:
Thursday, August 20, 2015
We got all the kids kitted out for soccer this fall while we were down at the beach, ransacking the Dick's Sporting Goods out on Mt Pleasant.
Of course when we got back to the condo everyone wanted to play. Sam surprised me by putting up some great defense against Jack's burgeoning dribbling skills, the post-block hand violation notwithstanding:
Sunday, August 16, 2015
On the way down to the beach this month, Jackson really got going with some coloring and ginned up this prized piece of art entitled the aquarium. featured are all of the various sorts of sea creatures that Jackson expected to find down at the beach:
Little did we know we would have such a prescient Aquarius with us in the car. we ended up finding about half of the described number of animals plus a few more that were unexpected.
In total we saw: two bucks, several stingrays, a dozen or more sand dollars, a few starfish, eight or nine hermit crabs of varying size with shells from the size of a quarter to the size of a softball, schools of fish from minnows to menhaden, a whole lot of egrets and seagulls and pelicans, and a few dead jellyfish. Oh, and Doc is pretty sure she saw a shark in shallows, stalking her and the young 'uns.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
We've been building up this birthday into something special, and she's been enjoying every minute of it. On Sunday she got to pick out her cupcakes, and yesterday we had a small party at school. Matilda managed to pull all that off by himself (cupcakes, plates & napkins, gift bags, emergency re-allocation of gift bags due to extra kid in the class, etc etc) since Doc was out of town attending to urgent matters of familial import. Last night, we got some cool gifts from Aunt Rae and Callie & Emma and made them into jewelry in the oven.
Today we all slept in, had breakfast together, and then Caroline and Doc played hooky all day while Sam went to school (Jack is off at Nana-Camp). First they got a check up (but no shots!), then they got their hurh did. Caroline loved every minute of the salon, especially the wash / blow dry part.
We had a great lunch date at Mad Hatter, and there was cake baking and decorating this afternoon, and cupcakes left over. GG came up for dinner and we just had a grand old time. The whole day, Caroline was just glowing, gliding around and glancing approvingly at everything that was happening. Just like all was right with the world, and everything was as she expected it to be, a perfect birthday.