The last bit of summer

Our last weekend of summer before school begins has come to an end. It was a good one. I'm so glad that we were able to take advantage of this fab weather. Kind of last minute we decided to go camping. There was much talk about a camping trip all past month but the when was the question. Since there was not enough time to head down to the Smokies as we envisioned we decided to stay closer to home.

Given that packing for any camping trip is nothing short of a crazed manic adventure I tried to be the organized freak that I am and keep myself together. Well, that never works with charged up little girls and a neurotic cat underfoot. I was nearly at wits end about an hour before Keith was due to come home when Olivia was riding my patience. She began to take things I had intended to pack in the van and moved them around. I said to her "Stop doing that or I'll give you a knuckle sandwich." And she replied "I'm not hungry, Mom." and dashed off. At least she made me laugh and forget some of my stress.

Keith was glad to be home and on the road to fun. I packed up some supper sandwiches to eat on the way through traffic. Thankfully our decision to head out Friday afternoon worked to our advantage. Yeah the traffic was awful for a bit, we got over it as the mountains came into view. We were able to find a nice site right across from a family with little ones. The hustle began as we got out the tents. While there was a minor threat of rain the wind blew it away before it could become much trouble. Although for our own minds' sake we all slept in the same tent the first night, no sense in having the children soaked.

The next day the girls were up early and ready for fun. Our crisp cool morning breakfast of pancakes turned out well, better than in the past, even the coffee was drinkable. Of course for all the girls cared we could have remained at the site all day while they played in their tent. Yeah, but that leaves little fun for us so a-hiking-we-ah-went. We packed our day bag and took the Appalachian trail down to the Doyles River falls.
It was a nice hike plenty of elevation gain and loss. We ate lunch on some rocks in the shade and there Leah discovered the tasty-ness of Coke Zero. By the time we made it back to the trail head the girls were very tired. Me included. Keith ran back to the campsite to get the van and bring us all back. He's such a good guy. While we tried to rest at the site before supper the girls met the children across from us. There was no rest as a game of ball began and extra bodies were needed. The young boy, he's 4, was quite a pistol. He charged over to me on his bike with training wheels. He sat back in the seat and began a conversation. He charming way was delightful and his North Carolinian accent was evident as he described his bike in detail. I asked him how long he's been riding. He leans back thinks a moment and then tells me "I've been ridin' this here bike about 1, no, 18 years, yeah." I inquired further by giving a raised eyebrow and saying "Oh? Really? That long?" Then he yells over to his mother "Hey! Mahhhom! How long have I been ridin' this bike? 18 years!?" She yells back "Two years, son!" He looks at me and then states "Well, these bikes, you can only ride for two years, an' then you need another." With that he rode off. He was quite a funny kid. That night we stuffed our faces with smores and watched the stars. It was so clear and there were even a few shooting stars. I really liked camping at this site, near as you can get to the top of a mountain. The nightly wind really made you note the difference between elevation.

Sunday morning we went to the non-denominational service in the amphitheater. It was a lovely view to sit on that mountain and look upon the clouds. Afterward breakfast and then off for another hike. This one was not as difficult. We hiked to the top of Loft Mountain. It mostly was along the Appalachian trail where we encountered plenty of people yet it was still peaceful. I liked this hike the most because being on top of mountains looking into the valleys below is comforting to me. Eastern European Mountain people are in my heritage. I enjoy watching the birds glide above and feel the wind blow around me. Quiet. Sights. Solitude. Just a good place to think.

Keith told me that during the time Leah and I were lagging behind Olivia was chatting up with him. Since she complained horrendously yesterday she talked incessantly about how she's not going to complain on this hike. We were not sure which is worse. As she and Keith were marching through a narrow meadow she looked around and the asked "Daddy, how do you spell tree?" Keith told her, t-r-e-e. She then follows with "How do you spell sassy tree?" Keith kept his composure and spelled it out for her s-a-s-s-y t-r-e-e. Then she asks "Are we going to find any sassy trees on this hike?" I bet it was hard for him to keep that laugh inside.

And you all think we hike in boredom.

After the hike we took a shower and felt so much better. After that shower I was ready to go another few days but glad to know that Monday morning we'd be heading home. The last evening by the fire was lovely. The cool mountain breeze kicked in after 6pm and that made being near the fire more fun. We finished off the smores and topped off the night with hot chocolate. Silly me left the mint Schnapps at home.

I assumed to be able to get another undisturbed night's sleep that night and would have if not for Leah. At 1am she freaked out. I staggered out of our tent, you coulda sworn I was drunk, really, I nearly fell on my face getting out of that tent, and made my way to the screaming child. There I found a very distressed Leah pawing at a dead asleep Olivia. For some reason Leah HAD to sleep on the other side of the tent. The part where Olivia has been sleeping for the past two days. Why? I don't know. But Leah HAD to sleep on the other side and was pushing her sister around the tent. Trying to talk sense into a sleepy freaked kid is nothing easy. Some how it worked out. The best part was that Olivia slept through Leah's fiasco. Amazing.

The last morning was sad. It's always sad for Keith and I to leave the mountains. No hot breakfast today. Just pop tarts and fruit. While the girls played we took down the tents and packed up. The plan was to return in time to go to the pool one last time. And wow did everyone else have that idea too. It was a little cold in the pool but refreshing. And now the summer closes for another year.

Back to school tomorrow. It goes so fast.


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