Friday, September 28, 2012

Raising Kids Right

I don't know if any of you parents out there worry that you are screwing up your kids royally, but I do. The responsibility freaks me out sometimes. Take this example from normal life: During dinner a couple nights ago, Dave Dave scoots from his chair (which he's apt to do) and crawls underneath the table meowing. I mean, if he's going to pretend to be an animal, why pick a cat?

You know what I'm saying? Things like I'm pretty sure the boy is going to be wearing diapers into adulthood. Or that Anna Rose still sleeps with a light on. You know what I mean? Maybe you don't. But every once in awhile I get to worrying that I'm not raising these kids right. 

But there we are this afternoon, and it starts thundering outside, and I hear Anna Rose cry, "Let's put on our bathing suits and jump in puddles!" And Dave starts chanting: "Puddles! Puddles!" And quick as lightning there we are in the rain, splashing around, and I'm thinking to myself, Self, you might not be getting everything right, but they at least know what to do when it's pouring rain outside.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Roughing It Deluxe

Last week, my parents gave me a great birthday present in watching the kids while Lia and I went to the mountains. Thanks mom and dad!

We called it our "scouting mission" week. What we meant was that over the last couple years we have accumulated a list of "things we want to try before the kids are ready to do them." The actual title of the list is shorter than that; it actually isn't even written down, but you know what I mean.

Day 1 we went on a three hour, that's right a three hour horse trail ride with Triple E Stables (recommended).

They have carved trails all over Bullhead Mountain near Sparta. Three hours, did I say that already? About two hours more than my rear end was in shape for. But Lia's a born cowgirl and I love her so much I'd chaff my ass to show her.

Later that day, Lia and I hiked up from the bottom of Doughton Park to the abandoned Caudill Cabin. We thought it was three and a half miles up then back. It was closer to five miles. I think it ended up being 9.8 miles total. And the way it had been described to us was that it was a pleasant hike by a creek. It was pleasant. The views were pleasant. The cool ruins along the way.

The waterfalls. All that was pleasant. But it was not easy.

And it was getting late. And the Caudill Cabin is famous because Mr. Caudill, his wife and his fourteen children died in a hundred year flash flood. It didn't help that it was getting close to evening. We were deep in the forest. Lia mentioned that she kept thinking that she heard what she described as "the wood children." Plus the fact that we had just watched the Hunger Games, which was set in woods just like this all added up to a quicker pace than I probably would have liked.


On the hike Lia mentioned that on the way home from Chicago the week before, she had read this article by Jay Heinricks called Roughing It Deluxe. The premise of the article is about finding vacations that are adventurous but also relaxing. Lia was talking about it as if it was the kind of vacations she'd like to take some if it described the vacation we were on...

We crossed the creek below a waterfall. Crawled over a fallen pine. The wood children were whispering. And I thought to myself: relaxing? really?

We made it back to the car in one piece. Ate at Maddy's in Elkin. Got the small plate. Had enough leftovers for dinner the next day.

Day 2 we decided to "rest our legs" and do the Virginia Creeper Trail (see earlier entry).

Fifty-three miles, a face plant, and one mild concussion later and day two was not exactly what I call a leg-rester. (recommended)

Day 3 we headed back up to Virginia to go to Grayson Highlands, our favorite state park within two hours of Winston-Salem. (recommended). To us, it's the closest thing to hiking out west. There are huge rocks. You're above tree line. And you can see forever.

Plus you get the bonus of wild horses, something you don't get out west. We've taken the kids here several times, but there is so much park that we hadn't seen. So from the Massie Gap parking lot we headed up the Rhododendron Trail over Wilburn Ridge (my favorite trail) through the keyhole then to unchartered waters down the beautiful Pine Mountain Trail to the AT which loops back around in and out and in and out of the park back to the car basically. Twelve miles. A perfect loop. Full of everything.

But restful? Not in your life.

There's a different kind of rest I guess.

Day 4 we did take it a little easier. A nice easy kayak down the New River (recommended - Riverside Canoe).

It was a scouting mission. Like the Virginia Creeper, we want to take the kids tubing down this next summer.

And like the Virginia's going to be a winner.

We took a side trip to Thistle Meadow Winery then to the Blue Ridge Arts Gallery (recommended). We were gifted an incredible sunset and we headed to bed for our final day and our final adventure...

Day 5 our super friend and realtor extraordinaire Shirley Richardson showed us an incredible property not for us but maybe for one of our friends...hint hint hint.

I'll tell you, the place is awesome. 8,000 square foot house WITH a 1,600 foot cottage WITH 200 acres WITH a 12 acre deer fence WITH a 2 acre pond WITH three koi ponds WITH basically your own mountain WITH a fifty mile view all for about $800,000. That's right. It was once on the market for $10 million. (recommended).

From there, we drove to Fries, VA and did a nice little 18 mile training run. That's right, after horseback riding, biking, kayaking, and multiple hikes, we went for an 18 mile run. Restful? Are you kidding me? We found ourselves on the way back to Fries (we did an out-and-back) smack dab in the middle of a Senior Olympics Bike Race, which turned sunny for us as we received a hearty cheer as we finished our run.

Lia killed it. Unfortunately, she's been gimpy this last week. We need a healing. If you're so inclined, send up a prayer for her left leg. Admittedly, we might have slightly overdid our "relaxing" vacation. But golly was it adventurous.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Virginia Creeper - The Country's Easiest Bike Path

That's what the brochure said. "The Virginia Creeper is considered to be the country's easiest bike path. " I took them at their word...

Which is probably why I wasn't entirely paying the trail my full attention as we were gliding by this gentle stream with cows on the other side lowing above the dewy grass, the sun taking the nip off the temperature, a glorious morning and Lia and I were soaking it in when my front wheel hit a rock, turned perpendicular, and sent me nose, teeth and face first into the gravel.

Below is me before the accident. Take a good look because it's the last picture you'll ever see me wearing these sunglasses:

Here is me with my bell truly rung. I know exactly now what that means. It was one of those moments I was truly thankful to have a doctor for a wife. She pressed here, pushed there, bent my nose one way then the other, checked my teeth, and said: "it's just a few scratches, you'll be fine." She kept looking at me funny if she wasn't entirely sure...

We kept going and made it to Damascus with time to spare - We felt so good in fact that we decided to bike to the trail's end in Abingdon then back.

34 miles later we didn't feel as great. It was Lia's first time biking over fifty miles, and it had been awhile for me -  I can tell you for certain that no trail feels like the easiest trail in the country after fifty miles.
But concussion, cuts, and gravel that's still stuck in my hand aside - it's a great trail. I'd recommend it to anyone. Just pay it attention - a little. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Girls versus Guys Weekend

Lia and Anna Rose left the house at 4:15 this morning to fly to Chicago for a girls weekend with Grammy, Auntie Cara and Cousin Evy. I received this picture at 1:13pm from Cara. Looks like we have officially entered into the world of the American Girl. 

If only it wasn't so cute...

Turns out Anna Rose and "Julie the American Girl" have a lot in common. They are both free spirits who love animals. I heard over the phone that Anna Rose also picked up Julie's pet bunny Nutmeg among other accessories. 

When they called they were on their way to the aquarium probably getting some frou frou drink on the way. 

Me and Dave. We went to the gym. Then we went by Sports Authority to pick up some lures. I bought Dave Dave his own bag of worms. I was like if Lia can get our daughter an American Girl Doll, I sure as heck can get my son a bag of worms. 

He hid one worm in the book I was reading. Scared the willies out of me. 

We made a Lego Castle for our worms. We also went to Home Depot just to walk around.

Then we carried massive sticks while we waited for Grandma and PopPop to arrive.

We ate ribs and barbecue. Came home and watched football while I followed the Wake game on line. Go Deacs! 

Dave went to bed with his worms.