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 one...it 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 day...as 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 Creeper...it'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.