Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stone Mountain Camping

Eliza Grace and I joined some fellow American Heritage Girl (AHG) families for a camp out last weekend at Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina.

I had detailed in a Facebook post how much I dislike camping in general, but I have to admit that, despite the never ending rain, I really enjoyed myself!  Of course that was due to the companionship rather than sleeping outdoors.
We arrived on Friday evening with enough daylight to set up the tent, wander around the campsites, find the all too important bathhouse, and visit with neighbors.
That night we built a little fire that survived the rain long enough to let us make s'mores and then we headed off to bed.
The next morning I set up the cook stove and Eliza Grace whipped up some chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Afterward she even did the dishes!
Then, despite the continued misty rain, we headed off with some AHG friends to hike to the top of Stone Mountain.
The canopy of trees kept us fairly dry for most of the hike up.
There were a couple of rock plateaus along the way and they had all kinds of natural holes and waterways on the rock face.
We sort of felt like we were exploring the moon with all the little craters.

We also came upon the occasional cool little tree growing out of the rock. 

They made nice resting spots.
And of course the views to the west were amazing.
That's Grandfather Mountain out there.
 Beautiful flora everywhere.
 Finally, we made it to the top for the ultimate view.
Eliza Grace had to get closer to the edge to see that tree. However, I was happy to stay further back.
The hike back down the mountain included some serious rain from which no amount of tree canopy could protect us. 

By the time we were back at the bottom, we were soaked to the skin and ready to be somewhere warm and dry which, sadly, the tent was not.  Which explains why we sat in the car with the heat on for about 15 minutes. After a quick change of clothes, I turned off the car, covered Eliza Grace in blankets and let her take a nice long nap in the front seat. 

Dryness and a good nap do wonders for the camping soul!

That evening we had all had it with the rain, and did not relish the idea of cooking in a downpour, so we decided to run into town for pizza.  

If you're ever in Elkin, NC, we definitely recommend Amalfi's Pizza!

The next morning Eliza Grace and I packed up the tent and all our other paraphernalia in record time (our new "instant tent" is REALLY easy to take down) and we decided to do one more quick hike to see a nearby waterfall.  It was only .6 miles round trip from the trail head so we figured we could hike it, take a few pictures and be back in 30 minutes at the most.

We were wrong.

The trail started off just fine.  We even came across this chimney that stood there all by itself on the side of the trail.
But then the trail began a downhill slope and kept getting steeper and steeper.  

We should have been slightly deterred by the signs that kept warning of maiming and death. Seriously, there were a couple of them along the trail.  

For some reason, we kept walking.
Once we arrived at the top of the waterfall, we had to walk down a ~40 degree decline on the rock face. Did I mention it was misting once again at this point?
Then to get to the bottom of the waterfall, there were the stairs.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 stairs in total.
There was a brief respite landing halfway down with all the very necessary warnings about how we would perish if not careful.
Then we headed down more and more and more stairs.
Finally, we made it to the bottom of a very pretty waterfall to a fairly anti-climatic little pool.

Eliza Grace took this action water shot.
We walked a bit further and found this lovely little fairy-sized waterfall in the creek.
And there's a cute little wood sprite now!
After enjoying the beautiful, peaceful sights and sounds of the woods, you know what we had to do then. 

Go back up.
All ~350 steps and back up the 40 degree incline.

Eliza Grace literally hopped up the steps.  She stopped about every 75 steps or so just to see if I was still alive. It was so thoughtful of her.

People, she wasn't even winded when she reached the top.  

I know I was the same way back when I was 12. But alas, I am 12 no longer.

Regardless, I was so proud of us both and it was worth every achy, stiff leg muscle I hobbled around on the next day.

Overall we had a great time and we definitely recommend you check out Stone Mountain State Park, NC!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Seventh and Third!

Our five week summer track out flew by and here we are again at the beginning of a new school year.

First a look back - first day of 6th and 2nd:
And today - first day of 7th and 3rd:
Love my babies-  growing up so well!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beach Tripping!

We have some really great friends that we went to the beach with over the Easter Weekend.

The weather was horrible - cloudy and rainy - but the company was divine!

We had a wonderful time playing Heads Up, Bocci ball, Left-Right-Center, arm wrestling and coloring Easter eggs.  

If all that isn't fodder for a fun weekend, I don't know what is!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Battle Stations!

Today we took a day trip to Wilmington, NC with the sole purpose of touring the USS North Carolina battleship.

The skies were Carolina blue and the temperature was lovely.

The self-guided tour can take anywhere from 1-2 hours so we took our time wandering and pondered what life was like as a sailor on this vessel during WWII.

The Enlisted men's mess hall.
Big kettles, big griddles.
Eliza Grace was very pleased to see that the sailors had regular access to her favorite food: ice cream.
You could turn and move many of the levers, buttons and gears in the engine and other mechanical rooms. The spaces full of electrical panels and fuses were amazing. Rows and rows of equipment that had to be maintained and carefully adjusted with hundreds of switches are, in today's ships, monitored and controlled with a computer screen and the touch of button.
The laundry drop off area.
This area was once a garbage shoot but is known now as the "wishing well."  Eliza Grace and Will took turns dropping quarters down the 4 stories to see if they could land their coin in the bucket at the bottom.  The money is used to help maintain the ship.
The 16 inch powder magazines and projectile storage areas.
Can you imagine the heat down here while deployed in the South Pacific?  Especially in the middle of battle?
Dental office.
Suture room.
Officer's quarters.
40 MM gun mounts.
The view from outside the Captain's quarters.
Signal bridge.
One of many sleeping quarters.  Imagine being Scott, 6'4" tall, and sleeping in those.
The bridge.
Will honoring those who fought and died so that we remain free.
After nearly 2 hours of climbing up and down lots of narrow ladders and ducking under and stepping over lots of steel bulkheads, we headed to the Front St. Brewery for a beverage and some ice cream. 
It was a perfect pit stop to talk about what we had seen and learned and to even further appreciate those who have and still do put their lives on the line to ensure our continued freedom.  

A debt we can never repay.